Who Is Most at Risk for Developing Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is both widespread and not fully understood -- which means that millions of people have a chronic condition that can be difficult to explain and to diagnose. And doctors, researchers, and patients don’t fully understand it.

In fact, there’s even some disagreement about how many people in the United States have fibromyalgia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4 million adults have fibromyalgia, but the National Fibromyalgia Association puts that number at about 10 million people.

The two most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain throughout your body and fatigue. You may also experience the following symptoms:

Not all fibromyalgia patients have the same set of symptoms, which is one of the reasons the condition can be difficult to diagnose.

Further complicating our understanding of fibromyalgia is the fact that while there are known risk factors, many of them have only been weakly associated with the disease. For example, more women are diagnosed with fibromyalgia than men, but that may be because fewer men seek treatment or because physicians are less likely to recognize fibromyalgia in men.

Established, known risk factors

There are two risk factors that have been clearly established to be associated with fibromyalgia.


Although anyone at any age can have fibromyalgia, it most often occurs during middle age. Additionally, your risk of developing fibromyalgia increases as you age.

Some types of arthritis

If you have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Other potential risk factors

Additional research is necessary regarding other factors that seem to be associated with fibromyalgia. Scientists and physicians have noted a link between the factors below and fibromyalgia, but it’s not clear how they’re are associated:


Women appear to be more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. In fact, twice as many women are diagnosed with it than men, according to the CDC. Other groups estimate that women are up to nine times more likely to have fibromyalgia.

Experiencing a stressful or traumatic event

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or if you have lived through a traumatic event, such as a car accident, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Childhood abuse may also raise your risk.

Repetitive use injuries

Being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or a similar injury that is due to overuse of a joint could raise your risk of later developing fibromyalgia.

Certain viral infections

Previous illnesses may make it more likely you’ll develop fibromyalgia later.

Family history

Researchers believe there may be a genetic cause for fibromyalgia. It may be that you have the genetic potential to develop the disease under certain conditions. If other people in your family have fibromyalgia, you may have an increased risk of developing it.

Physical inactivity

Being inactive appears to make it more likely you’ll develop fibromyalgia. Exercises is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia pain, as well.


There seems to be some link between obesity and fibromyalgia.

If you’d like to learn more about the risk factors for fibromyalgia, as well as what you can do to protect yourself if you have an elevated risk, book an appointment at Revive Medical. Whether you’re near San Diego, California, or Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, you can give us a call during regular business hours, or feel free to use our online scheduling tool at any time.

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