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Is Fibromyalgia A Type Of Chronic Pain?

July 3, 2023

For those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the question of whether it is a type of chronic pain disorder might seem like a moot point. After all, the condition’s hallmark feature is widespread pain that lasts for months or even years. However, medical professionals and researchers have spent considerable time and effort trying to define and understand fibromyalgia, including how it relates to other types of chronic pain.

In this article, we delve into the nature of fibromyalgia and chronic pain, how they compare and contrast, and the latest advances in diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding Fibromyalgia

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder that affects the way the brain processes pain signals. It is a chronic condition that impacts an estimated 10 million people in the United States alone. The condition is characterized by widespread pain and tenderness in muscles and soft tissues.

People with fibromyalgia often experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, depression, and anxiety, among other symptoms. Medical experts believe that fibromyalgia is a neurological condition that results from a combination of environmental, genetic, and other factors.

Despite being a common condition, fibromyalgia is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Many people with fibromyalgia go undiagnosed for years, and some are even told that their symptoms are all in their head. This can be frustrating and disheartening for individuals who are struggling with this condition.

Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia

One of the hallmark symptoms of fibromyalgia is widespread pain that affects multiple body parts, including the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. This pain can be intermittent or persistent and ranges from mild to severe. In addition to pain, people with fibromyalgia may also experience other symptoms, which can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Brain fog or cognitive difficulties
  • Depression or anxiety

These symptoms can be debilitating and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. People with fibromyalgia may struggle to perform daily activities and may have difficulty maintaining employment or participating in social activities.

Causes & Risk Factors

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not completely understood, but researchers believe it is the result of changes in how the brain and spinal cord process pain and other sensory information. Certain genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors have also been linked to fibromyalgia. Some of these include:

  • Family history of fibromyalgia or chronic pain
  • Physical or emotional trauma
  • Ongoing stress or disturbed sleep patterns
  • Infections or illnesses
  • Gender (women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men)

While anyone can develop fibromyalgia, certain factors may increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. For example, women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, and the condition is more common in middle-aged individuals. Additionally, people who have a family history of fibromyalgia or chronic pain may be more likely to develop the condition themselves.

It is important to note that fibromyalgia is not caused by poor diet or lack of exercise, as some people may believe. While a healthy lifestyle can help manage symptoms, it is not a cure for fibromyalgia.

The Nature Of Chronic Pain

Defining Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by injury, illness, or a combination of factors. The pain can be mild, moderate, or severe, and it can be constant or intermittent. Chronic pain can also lead to disability, decreased quality of life, and emotional distress.

Chronic pain is a challenging condition to diagnose and treat effectively. It requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes of the pain, as well as any associated psychological and emotional factors.

Common Types Of Chronic Pain

There are several types of chronic pain conditions, each with its own unique set of symptoms and challenges. Some of the most common types of chronic pain include:

  • Low back pain: This is one of the most common types of chronic pain, affecting millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by injury, muscle strain, or degenerative disc disease.
  • Arthritis pain: Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation in the joints, leading to pain and stiffness. It can affect any joint in the body, including the hands, knees, and hips.
  • Nerve pain: Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is caused by damage to the nerves. It can be a result of conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or shingles.
  • Headaches: Headaches are a common type of chronic pain, affecting millions of people worldwide. Migraines, in particular, can be debilitating, causing intense pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the muscles and soft tissues of the body. It can cause widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that causes extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest. It can also cause muscle pain, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Impact Of Chronic Pain On Daily Life

Chronic pain can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life and overall health and well-being. It can affect a person’s ability to work, participate in leisure activities, and maintain relationships with others. People with chronic pain may experience feelings of depression, anxiety, and social isolation as a result of their condition.

Managing chronic pain can be a lifelong challenge, requiring a comprehensive treatment approach that addresses the underlying causes of the pain, as well as any associated psychological and emotional factors. Treatment options may include medication, physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage.

Comparing Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain

Similarities Between Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain

While fibromyalgia and chronic pain are not the same condition, they do share some common characteristics. Both conditions involve ongoing pain that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. They can also result in other symptoms, such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties, that can make it challenging to perform daily activities.

Additionally, fibromyalgia can be considered a type of chronic pain or pain disorder due to the condition’s hallmark pain symptoms that persist for three months or longer.

Differences Between Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain

Although fibromyalgia and chronic pain share some similarities, they are distinct conditions. Chronic pain can arise from a variety of causes, such as injuries, surgeries, or diseases, while fibromyalgia is thought to be primarily a neurological condition related to pain processing.

Additionally, chronic pain may be accompanied by inflammation or physical damage, while fibromyalgia is not typically associated with visible tissue damage.

The Role Of Central Sensitization In Both Conditions

One theory that has emerged in recent years to explain the similarities and differences between fibromyalgia and chronic pain is the concept of “central sensitization.” Central sensitization refers to changes in the way that the brain and spinal cord process pain signals, resulting in heightened sensitivity to pain and other sensations.

Central sensitization is thought to occur in both fibromyalgia and chronic pain and may be one of the key mechanisms underlying these conditions.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain

Diagnosing fibromyalgia and chronic pain can be challenging and requires a thorough evaluation of a person’s medical history, symptoms, and physical examination. In some cases, imaging tests or blood tests may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of pain. In many cases, a definitive diagnosis may require referral to a pain specialist or neurologist.

Medications & Therapies For Fibromyalgia

Treatment options for fibromyalgia may include medications, such as antidepressants or pain relievers, as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, or yoga, may also be helpful for managing symptoms.

Alternative Treatments & Lifestyle Changes For Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain management typically involves a multimodal approach that combines medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. Alternative treatments, such as mindfulness meditation or biofeedback, may be helpful for managing chronic pain. Lifestyle changes, such as exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction, can also be beneficial in reducing pain and improving overall health and well-being.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy For Chronic Pain

Ketamine therapy is another treatment for chronic pain. This approach involves the use of ketamine, a medication that can target and reduce pain signals in the brain. It works by blocking certain receptors and resetting the pain response. Ketamine therapy has shown potential in providing relief for individuals with chronic pain conditions.

The treatment is administered under medical supervision and has been found to be safe for many patients. With its growing recognition as a valuable option, ketamine therapy offers hope and improved quality of life for those living with chronic pain.


At Soft Reboot Wellness, we recognize the importance of distinguishing between fibromyalgia and chronic pain. As a leading ketamine infusion clinic, we understand that these conditions demand unique approaches in diagnosis and management. By comprehending the specific characteristics and underlying mechanisms of each condition, our dedicated healthcare professionals are able to offer more tailored and effective treatment options.

If you or a loved one are struggling with chronic pain, we invite you to take the first step towards a brighter future. Contact Soft Reboot Wellness today and discover the transformative potential of our specialized care. Together, we can provide the support and relief you deserve.

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