The fatigue associated with fibromyalgia is more than fatigue.

The fatigue associated with fibromyalgia is more than fatigue.


The research was based on previous studies that included patient comments indicating that fatigue was a symptom that deserved to be evaluated in treatment trials. At present, the success of a therapy depends primarily on the effectiveness with which it reduces the pain associated with fibromyalgia, with little or no attention to fatigue. In addition, there is no clear understanding of the key characteristics of fatigue to be measured.

During the interviews, open-ended questions were asked of patients, such as: “Tell me about your experience of fibromyalgia”. Therefore, the purpose of the interviews was not to ask specific questions about fatigue, because the researchers wanted to know what patients had. Tell spontaneously your symptoms.

The average duration of fibromyalgia symptoms for the 40 participants was 6.6 years, their average age was 49 years and 70% of them were women. Asked about their experience of fibromyalgia, they reported the following symptoms, with no indication:

  • pain (78%)
  • fatigue (43%)
  • difficulty sleeping (18%)
  • mobility problems (10%)

Remember that this was based on your unsolicited comments about fibromyalgia. When asked to rate the three main symptoms, the order was essentially the same, but the percentages were much higher.

Fibromyalgia-related fatigue has been described as an overwhelming feeling of fatigue that has not been alleviated by sleep or rest and is often not proportional to effort (ie. participants described fatigue after doing very little), “say the authors. Participants also noted that their fibromyalgia fatigue was not just “normal fatigue”.

Participants described their fatigue in more detail in the following eight categories that many of you can probably identify:

  • Feeling of overwhelming fatigue (43%): sometimes to the point that they could not do anything.
  • Not relieved by rest or sleep (38%): fatigue persisted even after what the patient thought was a good night’s sleep
  • It is not proportional to the effort provided (63%): it does not take much to trigger this symptom
  • Sensation of weakness or heaviness (28%): the body is heavy, weak or lacks strength.
  • It’s hard to feel motivated (83%): it takes a lot of effort to get things done, like getting up and moving forward in the morning
  • Difficulty doing the things they want to do (60%): Fatigue makes it difficult to do what they want or need to do.
  • Having to do things more slowly (38%): it takes longer and some patients felt that it was related to the feeling of heaviness or weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking or remembering things (68%): Fatigue affects the ability to concentrate, difficulty remembering things, difficulty thinking clearly or staying focused

“Men and women described the fatigue experience and its impact in a very similar way,” write the authors. Summarizing their findings about fibromyalgia, “Fatigue seems to be the second most important symptom and its impact on patients’ lives is considerable.” The many fatigue symptoms associated with fibromyalgia will be a challenge. Evaluate the impact of this symptom in therapeutic trials. But the results of this study could lead to better tools for accurately measuring “fatigue” in patients with fibromyalgia.

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The articles on this page and the comments are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to replace medical advice or other professional advice. Consult your doctor or other health care professional about your symptoms and medical needs.

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