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Fibromyalgia in Children and Teens

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Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Children and Teens continued...

The soreness can start in just one part of the body, but eventually it can affect other areas. Children with fibromyalgia have described the pain in many different ways, including stiffness, tightness, tenderness, burning, or aching.

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia in teens and children include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping and waking up tired
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Stomachache
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Dizziness
  • Restless legs while sleeping

One of the many reasons why teen fibromyalgia is so frustrating is that the symptoms compound one another. For example, the pain of fibromyalgia makes it difficult to sleep. When kids can't sleep, they feel more tired during the day. Being tired makes the pain feel more severe. The symptoms become a cycle that is difficult to break.

Fibromyalgia can be so debilitating that it causes many kids with the condition to miss school an average of three days each month. Having fibromyalgia can also be socially isolating. Teens with fibromyalgia can have trouble making friends and may feel like they're unpopular because of their condition.

If a doctor suspects fibromyalgia in a child, there is a test that may help diagnose the condition. The test -- called FM/a -- identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. Because the test is new, insurance may not cover it. Ask your doctor if the FM/a test is right for your child. 

Treating Fibromyalgia in Teens and Children

A team of specialists works together to treat fibromyalgia in children and teens. This team can include a:

  • Pediatric rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating children with arthritis and other rheumatologic diseases)
  • Psychologist
  • Physical therapist

Though there currently is no cure for fibromyalgia in children (or adults), several good treatments are available to help manage its symptoms, including:

Coping strategies. One of the most effective ways to treat fibromyalgia in teens and children is by using coping strategies to manage the pain. A technique called cognitive behavioral therapy helps children with fibromyalgia learn what triggers their pain and how to deal with it. It's very helpful for improving kids' ability to function, and relieving their depression. Other behavior-based approaches to treating fibromyalgia include muscle relaxation and stress-relieving techniques (such as deep breathing or meditation).

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