Fibromyalgia is a name given to a common group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness. Although the cause of fibromyalgia is not yet known, research suggests that it is the result of the body becoming extra sensitive to pain due to an overactive pain system. 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. With the right advice and professional input, many people find that they are able to manage their pain and tiredness over time.

What causes fibromyalgia and how is it diagnosed?

Currently the cause of fibromyalgia is not known (idiopathic).  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, such as, widespread pain and tenderness of the body lasting more than three months.

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 can fibromyalgia be treated?

There are many ways in which the symptoms of the condition can be treated. Some of these are: 

  • Staying active
  • Balancing activity and rest; and
  • Keeping a healthy weight.

You can find articles on these topics on our Arthritis Insights page

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 doctor or healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. You can also access more information and support via the sections below.

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 with other sufferers through their various initiatives and resources. For more information visit their website at or phone on (07) 4632 8173

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. 

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

Call our free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak with a member of our health team.