Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood chronic pain condition. It is associated with widespread aches and pains, poor sleep and cognitive function, fatigue, and muscular tenderness.

Fibromyalgia symptoms

Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Diagnosing the condition can be difficult, as there are no tests to identify it directly. Like IBS, this is a functional condition, as opposed to structural, which means that imaging, biopsies, and blood tests will not show markers for the condition. Therefore, diagnosis is more about ruling out other similarly presenting conditions, such as:

  • rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatological conditions
  • chronic fatigue or ME
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)


Previously, diagnosis was based on a set list of tender points across the body. Diagnostic criteria is now more focused on:

  • tenderness on both sides of the body, above and below the waist
  • feeling fatigued, and waking up unrefreshed
  • difficulty concentrating (“fibro fog”)
  • symptoms that last for at least 3 months

Symptoms may wax and wane, but generally they will be present to some degree throughout. Severity of symptoms form part of the diagnostic criteria, and a diagnosis can be made whether a person’s experience is mild or severe.

Who is Affected?

Fibromyalgia is most commonly diagnosed in women between the ages of 20 and 60. It can also affect men, but only 10% of people diagnosed are male.

There are associations with other conditions, such as migraine, thyroid issues, and hypermobility. It is unclear exactly how the conditions are linked, but there may be a predisposition to developing fibromyalgia if you already have another condition.

There is a lot that is not yet understood about the condition, and it can start for no apparent reason. Sometimes it begins after trauma, whether physical or emotional (including break ups or bereavements). It might also follow a viral infection or surgery of any kind. Studies have suggested that there may be an increased risk of developing the condition after Covid 19 infection.

Managing Fibromyalgia

Research shows that the best management strategy for fibromyalgia is exercise. For a condition characterised by fatigue and muscle pain, this is not an easy strategy to get into alone. Your osteopath can help by providing a personalised exercise plan, which we can revisit as time goes on to upgrade or adapt where necessary.

Stress management is also important, especially for those with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Seeking treatment for this may help to manage fibromyalgia symptoms. Acupuncture has also been shown to have potential benefits in symptom management.

Massage and gentle joint articulation may help too. The aim is to help the brain and body recognise that these movements are safe, making it easier for you to continue your activity in day to day life. There may be some discomfort associated with treatment as the muscles are more tender, so we will be sure to communicate well with you throughout your sessions. Everything needs to be done with your consent, so don’t hesitate to speak up at any point if you’re uncomfortable.

Make an appointment for your Fibromyalgia in Alsager by contacting 077 7593 1609