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.

Download our free Information Sheet - Fibromyalgia

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.

For more information on fibromyalgia download the Arthritis Australia information sheets on the condition and exercise and fibromyalgia.

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. Reliable sources of further information are also listed in the section below.

Contact Arthritis Queensland on 1800 011 041 for more information or to speak to a health educator about fibromyalgia.


Getting Help

Arthritis Queensland provides information, education and support for people with fibromyalgia. Call the free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak to one of our health educators.

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

Further Information
To find a physiotherapist, ask your doctor or call the Australian Physiotherapy Association on 1300 306 622 or use the ‘find a physio’ feature at

To find an occupational therapist, ask your doctor or call Occupational Therapy Australia (QLD branch) on 07 3852 6755 or use the ‘Find an OT’ feature at 

To find a psychologist, ask your doctor or contact the Australian Psychological Society on 1800 333 497 or visit their website at 

Versus Arthritis (previously known as Arthritis Research UK)

American College of Rheumatology

Arthritis Foundation (US)