Health conditions


What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a common health condition. It causes widespread pain and sensitivity to touch.

While men and children can also have fibromyalgia, women are most often affected.

What causes fibromyalgia?

It is unclear why people get fibromyalgia. Theories include:

  • genetic sensitivity
  • environmental triggers, such as:
    • physical or emotional stress
    • illness.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:

  • sleep disturbances
  • muscle and joint stiffness in the mornings
  • headaches
  • numbness and tingling of the hands and feet
  • restless legs syndrome
  • depression or anxiety.

A number of other health conditions may also occur.

Diagnosis of fibromyalgia

Your healthcare professional will be able to help make a diagnosis. They may refer to you to a specialist.

The most widely used clinical criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia is sourced from the American College of Rheumatology (external site):

  • pain and symptoms over the past week, based on the total of:
    • number of painful areas out of 18 parts of the body
    • plus the level of severity of these symptoms:
      • fatigue
      • waking unrefreshed
      • cognitive (memory or thought) problems
  • plus a number of other general physical symptoms
  • symptoms lasting at least 3 months at a similar level
  • no other health problem that would explain the pain and other symptoms.

Treatment and management of fibromyalgia

Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are many treatments which can help, such as:

  • improving your sleep routine
  • a balanced diet
  • relaxation
  • meditation
  • exercise.

Medication may also be important in managing your pain.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor or healthcare professional
  • Visit painHEALTH (external site), a website developed by WA Health, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia. painHEALTH is dedicated to helping sufferers of osteoarthritis and other forms of chronic pain and musculoskeletal pain
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222



This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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