Fibromyalgia is a name given to a common group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness. Unlike various forms of arthritis, sufferers of fibromyalgia tend not to experience any inflammation or damage to the painful areas.

The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • Pain - which usually involves aching, stiffness and tiredness of muscles
  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Poor sleep
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Irritable bowel (diarrhoea, stomach pain)

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can either be very mild or severe and may come and go at different times. 

What causes fibromyalgia?

Currently the cause of fibromyalgia is not known (idiopathic). Research suggests that it may be the result of the body becoming extra sensitive to pain due to an overactive pain system.

Although no cause is yet known, fibromyalgia tends to be more common amongst people who have: 

  • Inflammatory arthritis (for example, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • An illness, such as a virus (or following an illness or infection)
  • An injury or trauma which causes pain
  • Emotional stress or depression

How is it diagnosed?

For many people, the condition starts without any obvious cause, making it difficult to diagnose. There are no blood tests or scans that can test for fibromyalgia so doctors tend to look at a number of signs that are common amongst patients. This may include widespread pain and tenderness of the body lasting more than three months.

How can fibromyalgia be treated?

Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. But, the good news is that fibromyalgia does not cause any lasting damage to the muscles or joints. With the right advice most people find they learn to manage the pain and tiredness over time. 

What can I do?

Learn about fibromyalgia and play an active role in your treatment. Not all the information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. You can also access more information and support via the sections below.

Learn ways to manage pain. It can be useful to change the way you think about or react to pain. Take a look at Dealing with pain for some tips. 

Live a healthy life. Staying physically active, balancing activity and rest, eating a healthy diet, and keeping a healthy weight is important for looking after your overall health and wellbeing. But, it can also help with managing symptoms. Learn more about ways to stay healthy. 

Talk to your doctor about medicines. Some people may find that their pain or other symptoms can be controlled with certain medicines. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicines as even natural and over-the-counter medicines can have side effects.

Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. It is natural to feel scared, frustrated, sad or angry. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life. Arthritis and emotional wellbeing

Download our free information sheet - Fibromylagia

More information and support for Fibromyalgia

The ME/CFS/FM Support Association Queensland Inc. provides support, information and the opportunity for sufferers of fibromyalgia to network and share experiences through their various initiatives and resources. For more information visit

Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis. 

Register for Arthritis Assist to speak one-on-one with someone else living with arthritis. 

Register for our online exercise program, Arthritis Moves!

Download some of our free handy information sheets on fibromyalgia and for managing arthritis.