Is Fibromyalgia Pain Different From Chronic Pain?

There are several key differences between fibromyalgia pain and chronic pain. While chronic pain usually refers to pain that lasts for a relatively long period of time (aka more than 12 weeks), it can range from mild pain to serious pain, and might be constant or random. On the other hand, fibromyalgia is typically marked by the widespread musculoskeletal pain and the other symptoms that come with it, such as fatigue, depression, and headaches. Both conditions can be detrimental to your quality of life and can be emotionally and mentally draining. However, although the symptoms between the two conditions might overlap, they are two separate disorders.


One of the key differences between the two conditions is the cause behind them. Chronic pain syndrome is usually triggered by a pre-existing condition such as arthritis, back pain, or any injuries. However, what puzzles medical professionals is that fibromyalgia often affects patients without any identifiable cause. If you were to take an x-ray, it would not be possible to find any kind of nerve or tissue damage. The interesting thing about this is that the two conditions can even exist together, with fibromyalgia leading to chronic pain syndrome.

Fibromyalgia Pain

Just like chronic pain, fibromyalgia pain is a type of condition that is still difficult for experts to understand, diagnose and treat. However, research has shown that the pain is due to repetitive stimulation of the nerves that results in a change in the pain receptors in the brain. As such, they become significantly more sensitive and might register other sensations as pain even when they are not. Although until this day there is no known cause for it, there have been correlations between people who have pre-existing infections or who might have been through severe emotional or physical trauma, and a higher risk of suffering from fibromyalgia pain. The disorder has also been shown to be more prevalent in people who have certain genetic predispositions.

Treatment for Fibromyalgia Pain

Unfortunately, there is no known effective cure for fibromyalgia. However, treatment methods include those that aim to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for people with fibromyalgia pain. This can consist of prescribed medications such as painkillers, anti-depressants and muscle relaxants. There have also been positive effects with lifestyle changes and incorporating alternative treatment methods such as psychotherapy and acupuncture. With the combination of these methods, as well as occupational and physical therapy, you can strengthen your body and help you to feel better in the long run.

For both pain disorders, the one thing in common is the importance of having an understanding network of support. The fact is that it is hard for others who have not experienced such pain to comprehend what you are going through. Instead of wasting your energy to make them understand, you should build a strong support system that can include people from support groups and treatment centers. Many people who suffer from chronic or fibromyalgia pain have found that counseling and talking to people going through the same thing helps tremendously.

Contact the Head Pain Institute

If you need relief from pain, contact the Head Pain Institute.  Schedule an appointment with one of our medical professionals at 480-945-3629 or email us at