The Link Between Fibromyalgia and PTSD

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Fibromyalgia is one of the more painful disorders out there. Muscles and soft tissue are affected by this disorder, making them painful.

This leads to a host of other issues, including having trouble walking, sleeping, and doing any daily activities.

This disorder has been mainly found in women, which make up around 90 percent of the cases of fibromyalgia.

Men can also get this disorder, but the symptoms are generally milder and there isn’t nearly as much pain as there is in women.

There isn’t a specific thing that people have linked to the cause of Fibromyalgia, but there are a few things people have noticed might cause it. Two of the most popular ideas are poor physical condition and stress.

Another one is microtrauma. This is where a small amount of damage occurs somewhere in the body and the pain from that never goes away.

None of these ideas have been proven, but people are finding new things to link to this disease every day. One of these things is PTSD.

PTSD – What’s the Link?

Posttraumatic stress disorder is something that is triggered by a traumatic event. You may have been the one to go through the event or have just been around to witness it.

Regardless of how it came about, some of the symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. People with this disorder generally will replay the event uncontrollably in their mind, unable to stop it.

Many people in very different situations can get PTSD. One of the largest ways for people to get PTSD is through war.

Other reasons might include some sort of attack on you or your family, psychological abuse, or other horrific things that might happen to you or the ones you are close to.

There have been some links from PTSD to fibromyalgia. One of these links has been through veterans of war, who have seen a lot. PTSD is prevalent in those who went to war and those who were victims of war.

Male PTSD Victims

As men were the primary soldiers for a long time, there have been many studies completed on them. PTSD doesn’t affect every veteran of war, but for those it does affect, it seems to have left a mark.

In a study, around 49 percent of men who had PTSD had many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. There was around 5 percent who had depression, but not PTSD, and also had fibromyalgia.

However, the men who didn’t have either PTSD or depression did not show any signs of fibromyalgia.

What Triggers It?

Knowing those statistics, it makes it much easier to figure out exactly what is the cause of PTSD victims having fibromyalgia symptoms. First, it’s the obvious one: an injury.

Soldiers have a very high chance of getting injured in war. It could be a number of different things, but any of these have a chance of being incredibly detrimental to your health.

You might heal from one of these injuries, but that doesn’t mean your mind can fully heal.

Any sort of injury causes stress on the body. Wherever that injury happened, the pain may never fully go away, even years after it is fully healed. This pain can be attributed to fibromyalgia and might make the symptoms worse.

Next, it’s another obvious one: stress. Seeing any sort of traumatic event will be incredibly stressful.

Not only are you witnessing something that can hurt you physically, but also mentally.

Sometimes, a mental injury can be a lot worse than a physical one. You can always heal from a physical injury, but it becomes much harder to heal from a mental one.

The stress that comes from any sort of traumatic event is bound to stay with you. It is, after all, one of the ways your body tries to cope with what has happened.

This stress can cause physical pain to manifest in the form of fibromyalgia. Then, not only do you have mental pain, but also a lot of physical pain.

Finally, there’s anxiety. An anxiety that comes from PTSD is also something that may happen in fibromyalgia.

Therefore, these two things can be linked to each other. The anxiety from a traumatic event might shift over to fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia and PTSD

What Can We Do About It?

With such clear and distinct links between fibromyalgia and PTSD, it becomes difficult to understand exactly what we can do to alleviate the symptoms of both.

The usual ways to treat these are a little different from each other, but there are still ways to treat both.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the treatments that has been suggested to try on those with both PTSD and fibromyalgia. This is a way to understand what thoughts lead to bad emotions, feelings, and behavior.

Using this, they might be able to figure out what things might cause their pain to flare up and what causes their emotions to jump all over the place.

Physical therapy might also be a great way to combat both. This is more used for those with fibromyalgia, but it could be beneficial to those PTSD victims who went through an injury.

This way, they can not only treat the pain of the fibromyalgia but also help with their recovery.

Medication is also something that is generally used in both of these, though the medications do differ. In PTSD, anti-depressants are widely used.

For fibromyalgia, it is more about pain management than anything else, though those who also have depression might be using anti-depressants as well.

Group therapy is also an option for both. Those with fibromyalgia might seek out a group of people who suffer from that disease so they can know they aren’t alone in their pain.

For PTSD victims, some will benefit from not only talking about their experience but also knowing others who have gone through traumatic experiences. This can also extend to family therapy for PTSD victims.


Even with all of these treatment options, there still isn’t enough known about these two ailments to give a good idea of what to do.

Everyone goes through this differently, but knowing that there is a link might help some people come to terms with what they have.

Adele Alexander is a medical advocate in the United States who has been living with fibromyalgia for seven years. She has used her experience managing and overcoming symptoms to help others in similar positions.


  1. I have fibromyalgia and after reading this i could have ptsd after having been through 2 traumatic situations in the last couple of years but also I lost my dad when I was 12 and then I was left a single mom with 2 children one was a new born in 2004.

    • You have TMS.. read one of dr. Sarno’s books and you will heal

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