Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness
Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks ("fibro fog")
Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
Tension or migraine...
Fibromyalgia is a common condition that causes painful muscles. The pain is severe and involves many muscles as well as tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissue areas. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, cognitive dysfunction, depression, and anxiety.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that involves abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, as well as changes in bowel movements - constipation or diarrhea, or alternation of both. People with IBS often experience anxiety and depression.
Millions of people have at least one of these conditions. Fibromyalgia affects 5 million U.S. adults, and an estimated 25 million to 45 million people in the U.S. have IBS.
If you have fibromyalgia or IBS, you may be more likely to have the other one, too.
In one study, 32% of people with IBS also had fibromyalgia symptoms, compared with 4% of people without IBS. Another study showed fibromyalgia occurring in 20% of people with IBS. And studies have estimated 32% to 70% of people with fibromyalgia also meet criteria for IBS.
Both are functional disorders. There isn’t anything wrong with the structure of the organs, but with how they work.
Fibromyalgia and IBS don't always go together. They're two separate conditions.
But there is relationship between two, says Michael J. Pellegrino, MD, a fibromyalgia expert at Ohio Pain and Rehab Specialists in North Canton, Ohio and an expert on WebMD's Fibromyalgia Exchange. Pellegrino, who has fibromyalgia, says he also has intermittent IBS that he considers mild.
“There’s some connection because they come in clusters, but we don’t know what it is right now,” says Albena Halpert, MD, an assistant professor of gastroenterology at Boston University's medical school.
Researchers see a possible pain link between IBS and fibromyalgia. In short, people with those conditions respond to pain differently than people without the two conditions.
IBS patients are hypersensitive to intestinal pain; people with fibromyalgia are hypersensitive to skin and muscle pain. There is a lowered threshold to pain sensation in general, Halpert says.
It’s been also found that people treated with a certain group of antidepressants, known to affect when pain is felt by someone, for both conditions responded favorably. This led to the idea that the disorders were possibly linked by a similar underlying cause.
In fibromyalgia, the central nervous system may be highly sensitive, making someone feel more pain than what someone without fibromyalgia would feel in a similar situation. And the central nervous system is not as able to block or inhibit the pain compared to someone without the condition, Pellegrino says.