Is fibromyalgia mental or physical?


Fibromyalgia is a real condition not imagined. The condition affects people of all ages and backgrounds, although it is seven times more likely to be diagnosed in women than men. Fibromyalgia often develops between the ages of 30 and 50 but it can occur in people of all ages including the very young and very old, especially when it is the result of an accident or injury.

Fibromyalgia and Physical Pain

Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder. It specifically means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, generally all the softer, more fibrous tissues in the body. There is a sense, according to most patients, of ‘aching all over’, with the related symptoms of a chronic case of flu, but 24 hours a day. Muscles often feel as if they have been pulled or worked too hard and there are instances where muscles may twitch or feel like they’re burning.

Physical symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • widespread pain
  • extreme sensitivity
  • headaches
  • tender point pain
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • fatigue
  • stiffness
  • cognitive problems (also known as brain fog) e.g. trouble remembering and learning new things, problems with attention and concentration, slowed or confused speech
  • dizziness and clumsiness

Fibromyalgia – Mental Impact

Fibromyalgia is often viewed as an “invisible disability”. It is misunderstood by most people as it is often thought of as a physical condition, ignoring the huge correlation it has with mental health.

There are also psychological features that arise with fibromyalgia syndrome including:

  • depression – this is because fibromyalgia can be difficult to deal with, and low levels of certain hormones associated with the condition can make you prone to developing depression
  • sleep disturbances – symptoms include not feeling refreshed, even after a full night’s sleep, as well as trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
  • mood changes

Depression, along with many other mental health conditions, is something that people living with fibromyalgia frequently experience, and can severely impact their quality of life. In addition to depression, there are several psychological conditions associated with fibromyalgia, including:

  • anxiety
  • borderline personality disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • PTSD
  • Perfectionism
  • neurotic tendencies
  • higher levels of stress and anger

Treating Fibromyalgia

The treatment of fibromyalgia varies considerably from patient to patient, dependent on individual symptoms. No single treatment works for the condition and most sufferers find themselves handling a range of medication and treatments to deal with both the physical and mental side effects of fibromyalgia. Medication is most commonly teamed with lifestyle changes to help alleviate the worst symptoms.

Alternative Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia

In addition to medication, many people with fibromyalgia try other methods to help treat the condition. Hydrotherapy is becoming more popular as well as gentle exercise and swimming, often tailored by an expert in the field. Cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy have been known to ease the psychological symptoms of the condition which can in turn exacerbate some of the physical pain. Self-help groups and support communities are also heralded as very successful by some individuals.

From an alternative therapies perspective it is possible to use acupuncture, massage and reflexology in treating fibromyalgia, although there is no evidence to suggest these therapies help in the long term. You should seek medical advice before taking part in any of these activities or therapies so as not to worsen any symptoms. 

If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, CRPS, or any chronic pain condition as a result of an accident that was not your fault, and even if you have an existing claim, get in touch with Brian Barr Solicitors to see if we can assist. It is simple and hassle free to move your claim to Brian Barr Solicitors who are experts in dealing with chronic pain litigation. Call us today on 0161 737 9248 or visit our website ( to find out more.

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. The blog is for information purposes only as we are not medical professionals. We do not endorse any medical advice provided and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider before any changes to treatment and / or management of your condition is undertaken.


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