What did your survey tell us about migraine and fibromyalgia?

At the beginning of this year, we asked you to help tell us more about the many ways migraine impacts your life. Among the many questions we asked, there were questions about other types of pain you might also have. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition experienced as widespread body pain, with sleep problems, fatigue, depression, and digestive problems. We know people with migraine often have other pain conditions, like fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, it’s important to recognize it so you can get it treated.

Fibromyalgia is a challenging pain problem. Many doctors never learned about fibromyalgia during training and there are a lot of misconceptions about this diagnosis. It usually takes several years of symptoms and seeing many doctors before people finally learn they have fibromyalgia. In an effort to help make the diagnosis easier, the American College of Rheumatology put together new criteria to help doctors recognize this condition. In the survey, we asked you to complete questions so we could determine how many of you with migraines might also have fibromyalgia.

What did we learn from the survey?

In January and February, 1446 adults with migraine took our online survey. Among those, 24 percent — nearly one in four migraineurs — met criteria for having fibromyalgia. We decided to investigate the differences between migraine sufferers with and without fibromyalgia. Here’s what we found:

  • Migraine frequency was higher among migraineurs who also had fibromyalgia.
    • Most migraineurs without fibromyalgia had 2 or fewer migraines per week.
    • Most migraineurs with fibromyalgia had chronic migraine, having 15 or more migraines per month.
      • Fibromyalgia symptom severity also increased as the number migraine attacks per month increased.

Fibromyalgia and Migraine

  • People with both migraine and fibromyalgia were more likely to have mood problems.
    • One in three migraine sufferers without fibromyalgia had depression.
    • One in three migraineurs without fibromyalgia had anxiety.
    • Two in three migraineurs with fibromyalgia were depressed.
    • Two in three migraineurs with fibromyalgia had anxiety problems.
      • As fibromyalgia severity increased, mood correspondingly worsened.

What does this teach you about migraine and fibromyalgia?

This study shows that migraine and fibromyalgia often go hand-in-hand. If you typically have migraines more than twice a week, you might want to see if you may also have fibromyalgia. If you have widespread aches and pain, mood problems, fatigue, or trouble sleeping, you may have fibromyalgia. You can complete the fibromyalgia screening questionnaire by clicking here. If you think you have fibromyalgia, be sure to talk to your doctor about how fibromyalgia is treated.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (5)
  • Julie
    6 years ago

    I wanted to Thank Dr. Marcus who took the time to answer my questions and address my concerns over Fibromyalgia. I had no idea I could also have a comorbid condition along with my Chronic Migraines. She shed light on the subject for me and I took the info to my PCP to educate them and as a result I got my diagnosis after initial testing was done to rule out other conditions. I have always found info on this sight very valuable and once again Migraine.com came to my rescue. Thank you again! Julie

  • not so joy
    6 years ago

    I started my chronic headaches at 18 and migraines a year or so after. I wasn’t diagnosed with fibro until after a car accident when I was 30. The accident was a mitigating circumstance, my doctor decided that between my genetics & my pain level at all diagnosis pain points, I was destined to get fibro at sometime.

  • Dr Marcus author
    6 years ago

    A huge thanks to everyone who shared their experiences in this survey.

  • Diana-Lee
    6 years ago

    Was there any information about which condition came first for our Migraine.com community members?

    Do we think this comorbid relationship may be related to central sensitization?

    Do we have any idea why some patients with frequent Migraine attacks develop fibro while others do not?

  • Dr Marcus author
    6 years ago

    Those are all great questions, although this study did not provide information to answer them. We previously conducted a study evaluating fibromyalgia tenderpoints — body areas that tend to be especially sensitive to pressure in people with fibromyalgia but not in other chronic pain conditions. We’d planned to use people with headaches as a control group. When we tested the headache people for tenderpoints, 40% had tenderpoints like the fibro folks, although they weren’t reporting widespread pain. Like you, we have postulated that migraine results in central sensitization that results in pain sensitivity in other regions of the body than the head. One might speculate that migraine occurs first, since migraine typically begins around puberty and fibro most commonly around age 45. Whether aggressive early treatment of migraine and prevention of the transformation to chronic migraine would also decrease risk for fibromyalgia is, however, not known, but would be an interesting research question.

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