What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia – which is also known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) – refers to a condition which causes widespread pain all over the body. Sufferers of fibromyalgia may also experience other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, insomnia, heightened sensitivity to pain, stiffness in the muscles, headaches, concentration and memory problems, mood issues, anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It has been found that women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but therapies such as osteopathy and physiotherapy can help to alleviate symptoms, while there are also medications which can help.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The root cause of fibromyalgia is yet to be determined. However, it is understood to be linked to the presence of particular chemicals in the brain, at abnormal levels, and the changing of how the central nervous system processes the pain messages which are sent around the body. The central nervous system refers to the brain, nerves and spinal cord.

Some people may be at more risk of developing fibromyalgia because of inherited genes.

Emotionally or physically stressful times are understood to have the ability to trigger fibromyalgia in people. These could be events such as a serious operation, an injury, the death of a relative, or relationship problems.

Treatment options for fibromyalgia


Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) can be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, helping to relieve the symptoms of the condition. Manipulations performed can focus on easing muscle tension, while reducing joint pain and improving joint mobility through treatment plans which are tailored to the individual. Massage can also be a part of the treatment plan. Osteopaths are able to alleviate symptoms such as muscle pain, headaches and fatigue.


There is a range of physical exercises which are able to address fibromyalgia. Exercise programmes can be designed to focus on self-management, including a range of stretches and strength building exercises. These are able to improve fibromyalgia sufferers’ quality of life by battling against stiffness, pain and fatigue. Physios can help to correct poor posture which could be inhibiting muscle function, and gradually improve muscle flexibility through stretching and relaxation routines.