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HeadWay, Issue #139 -- Fibromyalgia, Migraine, and Headaches
February 22, 2016

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In this issue:

Fibromyalgia, Migraine, and Headaches

Say what?! Musculoskeletal

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Fibromyalgia, Migraine, and Headaches

It's well known that migraine patients often experience pain in various parts of the body, and that fatigue is a common symptom. Many migraine symptoms continue to plague patients even "between attacks".

But widespread pain, including headache, and fatigue, are common symptoms of fibromyalgia (fibro) as well. Could there be a connection? Should migraine patients regularly be checked for fibro as well?

The Mayo Clinic defines fibro in this way:
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Those with migraine will find many of these symptoms to be very familiar.

The link between migraine and fibro is well known. Sometimes migraine is actually listed as a "symptom" of fibro, but it's more likely that both disorders come from a common cause. Both are known to have a genetic connection.

Headaches in general are very common in fibro patients. And that's not the only issue common to both migraine patients and headache patients. Other conditions include irritable bowel syndrome and allodynia.

A study released in January 2016 indicated that frequent headache is actually the strongest predictor for fibro, followed by back and neck pain (see Predictors of fibromyalgia: a population-based twin cohort study.).

All this being said, not every migraine patient has fibro, and not every fibro patient has migraine.

Should I be Tested?

It will take time to get a proper diagnosis. There are other conditions that need to be ruled out before you can be properly diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It's best to see a doctor or specialist who is familiar with the condition. If you suspect that you may have fibro, getting a proper diagnosis will help your doctor choose better treatments for both your fibro and headache condition.


Fibro is treated with lifestyle changes (keys being finding ways to sleep better, exercise, and a healthy diet), complimentary treatments (massage, supplements), and certain medications (usually medications originally developed for depression, seizures, or other types of pain which have been used successfully for fibro).

If you suspect that you may have fibromyalgia as well as migraine, consider finding a specialist. Realize that a diagnosis will not come instantly, and that although treatment can make a big improvement in your quality of life, there is no cure.

For more useful information about fibromyalgia, see:

Say what?! Musculoskeletal

So if I have musculoskeletal pain, does that mean pain in the muscles and bones? Well, it could have to do with bone problems, but the musculoskeletal system is more than that. It includes bones, muscles, and joints, tendons and ligaments, and even nerves. Any kind of "connective tissue" holding your bones and muscles together may be included.

For a discussion of different types of musculoskeletal pain, including fibromyalgia, see Musculoskeletal Pain by Dr. Alexandra Villa-Forte.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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