A Question to Ask Youself: Is Your Fibromyalgia Primary or Secondary?


This question will seem strange to many. But it is in fact very applicable. What we meant is really this: is your fibromyalgia triggered by an unknown cause (therefore primary), or did it evolved from a former medical condition (hence, secondary)?

Based on research done till date, fibromyalgia can manifest from other medical condition especially those which are pain related illnesses. For example, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Experts explain that the constant pain experience in these pain conditions can cause changes in the how our brain and nervous system perceive pain, eventually leading to increased central sensitivity.

The reason why you need to know if your fibromyalgia is primary or secondary because it can determine the direction of your treatment. For instance, if you were suffering from myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) prior to being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, treating the symptoms of your primary medical condition, in this case, trigger points, may help you alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms. If your fibromyalgia is secondary and the primary medical condition is MPS, acupuncture or stretching therapy can work exceptionally well for you. However, a fibromyalgia patient with rheumatoid arthritisc(RA) as their primary medical condition may not see results from the same two treatments. Instead, treating the characteristic inflammation of RA with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could work the best for the latter. The above example could also explain why people with fibromyalgia respond to different treatments or drugs differently.

Another reason why you should really be asking yourself whether your fibromyalgia is primary or secondary is because many medical conditions that trigger fibromyalgia can remain undiagnosed for years. This is because the symptoms can blend seamlessly with the large pool of fibromyalgia symptoms. An expert in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue and author in About.com, Adrienne Dellwo wrote that she would not be as functional if she did not find out that she is also suffering from MPS after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

It is important to find the root of your fibromyalgia or rather what triggered your fibromyalgia. Discuss with your doctor to find out if you have any underlying medical conditions or even food sensitivities that could be causing your fibromyalgia symptoms.


  1. Dwello, Adrienne. “Is Your Fibromyalgia Primary or Secondary?” About.com Health. N.p., 10 Mar. 2016. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
  2. Chandola H C and Chakraborty A. Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome-A Dilemma. Indian J Anaesth. 2009 Oct; 53(5): 575–581.
  3. Schmerz. Diagnosis and therapy of myofascial trigger points. 2003 Dec;17(6):419-24. Wolfe F, Michaud K. Severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), worse outcomes, comorbid illness, and sociodemographic disadvantage characterize ra patients with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol. 2004 Apr;31(4):695-700.
  4. Staud R. Are patients with systemic lupus erythematosus at increased risk for fibromyalgia? Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2006 Dec;8(6):430-5.

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