While it’s not yet fully understood, research shows a strong connection between fibromyalgia and migraine symptoms.

In 2021, chronic pain affected over 51 million adults in the United States alone. Over 17 million of those adults experienced debilitating chronic pain that restricted their daily activities.

Both fibromyalgia and migraine episodes can cause chronic pain that makes it difficult to function from day to day. And for people who have both conditions, research suggests that fibromyalgia may even make migraine symptoms worse and more frequent.

Below, we’ll explore what science says about the relationship between fibromyalgia and migraine, including what treatment options are available for both.

Research shows that fibromyalgia and migraine often occur together and that fibromyalgia can affect the frequency and severity of migraine episodes in people who have both conditions.

The following studies demonstrated a connection:

  • In one study from 2019, researchers found that migraine symptoms were twice as prevalent in people with fibromyalgia versus those without. And in study participants who experienced migraine episodes, the risk of fibromyalgia was up to 1.5 times higher.
  • A similar study found that over 30% of participants with migraine symptoms also had fibromyalgia, with the condition being more prevalent in those with chronic migraine and migraine episodes with auras.
  • Several studies also found that fibromyalgia may affect migraine frequency and severity. In one study from 2018, fibromyalgia was associated with higher headache severity and higher migraine-related disability.
  • Another study from that same year found that participants with both migraine and fibromyalgia experienced more frequent and painful migraine episodes, as well as lower quality of life.

Most of the studies on fibromyalgia and migraine don’t distinguish between different migraine types, such as complex or ocular migraine. However, some of the research does suggest that people with chronic migraine and migraine with aura may be more affected.

What’s happening in the brain when you have fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition that’s characterized by body-wide pain and tenderness, chronic fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure of what causes fibromyalgia, but evidence suggests that it affects the way the nerves of the brain receive and transmit information related to pain. Because of this, people with fibromyalgia appear to be more sensitive to pain than those without the condition.

Was this helpful?

First-line treatment for fibromyalgia and migraine generally involves medications that reduce pain.

While there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, there are four medications commonly prescribed to help manage pain:

Research has shown that roughly a quarter of people living with fibromyalgia can find pain relief with these medications.

Migraine treatment also involves a combination of pain medications and other medications that may be helpful for reducing migraine frequency. Medications for migraine include both preventive and acute episode medications.

Preventive medications include:

Acute migraine episode medications include:

If you have both fibromyalgia and migraine, a combination of medications may help reduce your symptoms. However, you and your doctor will work closely together to decide which treatment options work best for you.

Complementary and integrative treatments may also be helpful in reducing pain and improving the quality of life in people living with fibromyalgia and migraine episodes.

One review from 2020 found that acupuncture was beneficial for reducing pain in people living with chronic pain conditions, including chronic migraine. And additional research suggests that acupuncture may also be helpful for reducing pain due to fibromyalgia.

In another review from 2019, researchers found that activities like yoga and tai chi appear to help reduce migraine frequency and severity. Research also suggests that activities like yoga may be helpful in reducing fibromyalgia pain and improving functioning and mood.

Other complementary treatments that may be helpful for chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and migraine include therapeutic massage, mindfulness, and certain supplements. However, researchers are still exploring just how effective these approaches can be for these conditions.

Living with fibromyalgia

Over 4 million adults in the United States — or roughly 2% of the population ― live with fibromyalgia. If you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with the condition, you can check out these resources that offer education and support:

Was this helpful?

Research shows that fibromyalgia and migraine commonly occur together and that having one of these conditions may increase the risk of having the other.

Studies also show that for people who experience migraine episodes, fibromyalgia may affect the frequency and severity of those episodes.

Medication is the most common treatment approach for helping manage pain in both fibromyalgia and migraine. However, several other complementary approaches could be beneficial for reducing chronic pain levels and improving the quality of life in people with both conditions.