Fibromyalgia and Migraines


Migraine, as most migraine sufferers know all too well, is one condition which is commonly linked with other medical conditions such as depression, asthma and hypertension (high blood pressure). One condition which is less often mentioned in relation to migraine is fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body alongside extreme tiredness. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies feelings of pain by affecting the way the nervous system processes painful and non-painful signals. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that fibromyalgia has been linked to migraine.

In one past study a high co-occurrence of fibromyalgia and migraine was reported at over 30%, while another large epidemiologic study from 2015 found the prevalence of migraine among fibromyalgia patents to be 55.8%. Migraine headaches can lead to the development of fibromyalgia pain, while the hypersensitivity which comes as part of fibromyalgia can lead to more migraine attacks.

Unfortunately having both migraine and fibromyalgia means that the likelihood of having depressive symptoms is higher, as is the likelihood of more intense migraine pain and more severe migraine related disability. 

Fibromyalgia, like migraine, does not have a cure, but there are good treatment options available. These include painkillers and antidepressants, talking therapies (CBT and counselling), exercise programmes, and learning relaxation techniques.

As the co-morbidity rate for fibromyalgia and migraine is so high, and the impact of suffering from both conditions at once is so great, it has been suggested that clinicians who care for migraine patients should consider screening for comorbid fibromyalgia, especially in those patients who have moderate to severe depressive symptoms.

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