Fibromyalgia is characterised by chronic widespread pain and joint stiffness, as well as systemic symptoms manifesting as mood disorders, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and insomnia.1,2 It does not have a well-defined underlying cause; however, it can be associated with rheumatoid disease, psychological disorders, infections and diabetes.1


Quick facts

  • Fibromyalgia is the most common widespread pain condition, with a greater prevalence in women than men.3,4
  • Key risk factors for fibromyalgia include having a first-degree relative with the condition5 and the presence of some autoimmune disorders.6
  • Central sensitisation is considered to be the main mechanism underlying fibromyalgia;1 an increased response to stimulation mediated by central nervous system (CNS) signalling results in heightened responses to painful stimuli (hyperalgesia) and painful responses to non-painful stimuli (allodynia).5
  • Approximately half of patients with fibromyalgia have small fibre pathology suggesting involvement of the peripheral nervous system.7
  • In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) developed a set of diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia that consider the severity of accompanying symptoms, such as fatigue, bowel disorders and the extent of widespread pain.