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Understanding and Managing Fibromyalgia

Kaylin Goh | 28 March

By Mandy Mercuri (Guest Post)

A good quality of life and well-being… we all want that, right? Yet, if you are living with symptoms such as widespread pain, fatigue, brain fog you may think this is near impossible and be wondering ‘how can I have a normal life with fibromyalgia?’ 

At MoreGoodDays, we believe wholeheartedly that you can live well with fibromyalgia. But let's start by covering some of the basics -  like the causes and symptoms. And then we share some of the top treatments so you can feel prepared to begin living well with your condition. 


Fibromyalgia is a complex condition typically marked by widespread pain, fatigue, brain fog, and poor sleep, just to name a few. Often misdiagnosed and misunderstood, even nailing a simple definition is difficult - but the latest scientific evidence confirms that fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system affecting pain processing, and also involves our immune system.

So if you think that sounds a bit ambiguous and complicated at the same time, well, you’re right - but there is no longer a too hard basket for fibromyalgia as research into how the neuro-immuno-endocrine system functions continues to develop. 


Everyone’s fibromyalgia is different: different locations, fluctuations in pain, severity of symptoms. If you are experiencing this, whether you are diagnosed or not, it's understandable to want to know the cause of your debilitating symptoms - it literally feels like it’s taking over your life. There has to be something going on, right?

Research suggests fibromyalgia is likely a disorder of the central nervous system affecting pain processing, and also involves our immune system. An underlying process in fibromyalgia is thought to be nociplastic pain or centrally sensitised pain, a disorder of pain-related processing. 

For the central nervous system to become sensitised there is often a situation/event/circumstance such as trauma, stress, illness or injury. It is thought that these stressful events trigger changes in body systems (nervous system, hormonal/stress response systems, and immune system) and these may persist and cause fibromyalgia  symptoms because of their sensitising effect on the nervous system. And to be very clear, the pain is still very real. The cause  however, is just not damage but sensitisation. Your system has become overprotective.  

As we learn more about the human genome we are finding many genes linked to pain. Researchers have been keen to identify if there is a specific gene associated with a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia. Short answer - yes, evidence suggests that around 50% of fibromyalgia can be explained by genetics.


Persistent pain is the most obvious hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can cause persistent physical or mental fatigue (commonly referred to as ‘brain fog’), disrupt your sleep and mood & emotional changes. You may notice changes in how sensitive you feel to things like touch, light, odours, sounds, changes in temperature, and pressure. 

There are also some other tell-tale symptoms that you might be experiencing including headaches, migraines & regional pain, digestion issues, jaw & facial pain, feeling dizzy, sensations of numbness or tingling, coordination difficulties with balance and gait, and urinary incontinence. 

So you can probably see how complicated fibromyalgia is and why it can so commonly be mistaken for other conditions. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms you may want to discuss with your healthcare professional and keep reading if you want to know…


If you are seeking a diagnosis the doctor will want to know as much information as possible about your symptoms - when they started, what type of symptoms you experience, what situations make them worse etc. It can be helpful to start tracking your symptoms as a way of having all this information to hand when your appointment rolls around. 

Often people refer to a diagnosis in stages and these relate to how long the condition has been present and its severity. A rheumatologist, who is ​​trained in rheumatic diseases that affect joints, bones, muscles and other connective tissues, may help with your formal diagnosis and will conduct a physical examination including tender points and possibly request blood tests, urine tests and/or scans such as an X-ray or ultrasound. While fibromyalgia can be diagnosed from your symptoms alone, this does not exclude that you might have a rheumatic disease as well – it is not uncommon to have both. 

There can be a pot of medical jargon and terminology to get your head around so be kind to yourself as you build up your knowledge and understanding. Remember too that you are always within your rights to ask questions of your practitioners and advocate for yourself - after all, you know your body the best and want to firmly put yourself in the driver's seat on, what can be, a turbulent health journey. 


So, maybe you have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, now what? Living well – despite pain – may seem a contradiction in terms, but it truly is possible, and the ‘how’ is within reach. We know the best treatment for fibromyalgia is one that takes a biopsychosocial approach

Below we outline some treatment options that can really make a difference to your pain levels and your sense of overall wellbeing. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes or magic pills and often, the approach is to come at your fibro from multiple angles with each of these forming a holistic overall plan for living well. 

Many of these symptoms are challenging and may result in making some adjustments to your life. But they don't need to mean you have to stop doing things you enjoy. Sure, maybe there will be a few modifications and tweaks but you can fully participate in an enjoyable meaningful life with fibromyalgia - just like some of MoreGoodDays' amazing fibro warriors


There are some excellent evidence-based approaches to managing fibromyalgia (and we can dive into these in more depth in a future article) but for now, here is a list:

  • Education
  • Pacing and exercise
  • Diet
  • Psychological approaches such as cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy and pain reprocessing therapy
  • Investigating and understanding your flare up triggers
  • Managing energy levels and sleep
  • Addressing stress (there are many proven ways to calm the nervous system including rest, meditation, calming hobbies, aromatherapy or massage)

And, you are probably keen to know if medications can make a difference? We see medications as an enabler. Medication might just take the edge off the pain enabling you to be more active or undertake some of the other suggestions above that can bring about the biggest improvement to your wellbeing. Being such a complex condition with multiple symptoms, medications for fibromyalgia are individual and consideration of the multiple impacts of side effects should be discussed with your healthcare team. 


Sometimes living with fibro can be confusing and overwhelming but you are not alone and help is available. 

If you have questions, please check out our beginners guide - ‘Everything you need to know about Fibromyalgia’. 

Download our mobile app today to learn more about your fibro and proven tools to help reduce symptoms and live well with fibromyalgia. Visit our website at


Mandy lives with chronic back pain following major corrective surgeries for scoliosis (a “S” shaped curved spine) when she was a teenager. She has a PhD in Environmental Science and published in peer-reviewed journals, fiction and non-fiction anthologies and has been blogging for the past 10 years on mindfulness and self pain management. When not writing, meditating, or hanging out with her family, you’ll find Mandy curled up reading or walking Max, the lovable but slow-witted springer spaniel.

You can view her full profile on MoreGoodDays' website here.

MoreGoodDays is a digital healthcare company providing evidence-based support for people living with fibromyalgia to get their lives back. For more information, please visit us at

As an exclusive offer for Zea customers, MoreGoodDays is offering 10% off their Flare Relief Bundle or Long Term Pain Rewiring Program. To redeem, create a MoreGoodDays account through your web browser at and then you can click on any locked section to proceed to payment and use discount code Bqk1KQUB.