Fibromyalgia often causes widespread pain throughout the back.
Back pain is one of the most common features of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition often accompanied by fatigue and sensitivity to touch.
Back pain in fibromyalgia can range from mild to severe and can become a source of significant discomfort and disability.
Here’s how to differentiate fibromyalgia back pain from other types of back pain as well as tips on managing the condition.
Back pain is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and mood disturbances.
The pain associated with fibromyalgia can be described as a deep, aching pain that’s often accompanied by stiffness, tenderness, and sensitivity to pressure.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that’s commonly characterized by the following symptoms:
- Widespread pain: aching or burning pain that’s typically felt throughout the body, including the neck, shoulders, back, and hips
- Fatigue: feeling tired, even after getting enough sleep
- Sleep disturbances: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or waking up feeling unrefreshed
- Cognitive difficulties: problems with concentration, memory, and other cognitive functions
- Mood disturbances: anxiety, depression, and mood swings
- Headaches: frequent headaches, including migraine episodes
- Sensitivity to touch: increased sensitivity to pressure or touch
- Stiffness: stiffness in the muscles and joints, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods
How to tell if your back pain is fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia back pain is typically described as a deep, aching pain that’s felt throughout the entire back and can be accompanied by stiffness and tenderness. While the pain can be very intense, it doesn’t cause any visible changes to the affected area, such as inflammation or swelling.
In addition to back pain, fibromyalgia is often accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, mood disturbances, headaches, sensitivity to touch, and stiffness. The pain may get worse with stress, physical activity, or changes in the weather.
In contrast, other types of back pain may be caused by a specific injury or physical trauma, such as a muscle strain, herniated disc, or osteoarthritis. The pain may be localized to one specific area of the back and accompanied by symptoms such as muscle spasms, limited mobility, and weakness.
The findings show that fibromyalgia pain tends to have a greater overall impact on daily life than chronic lower back pain. Fibromyalgia pain also interferes more with a person’s sense of touch, movement, and balance.
Fibromyalgia back pain is often widespread, covering the entire back from the upper to lower regions. This pain can also radiate to other areas, such as the neck, shoulders, hips, and chest.
The pain can feel worse in certain areas, such as the upper back, lower back, or both, and may also extend to the neck, shoulders, and hips. Some people with fibromyalgia also report pain in the chest and ribcage area, which can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack or other cardiac condition.
Fibromyalgia back pain between shoulder blades
Fibromyalgia pain between the shoulder blades may feel like a deep aching pain accompanied by feelings of tenderness. You may feel tightness between the shoulder blades, making it difficult to move your neck and shoulders.
You may also experience a burning or shooting sensation that radiates to other parts of the body.
Fibromyalgia lower back pain symptoms
Fibromyalgia lower back pain is similar to the pain experienced in other parts of the body in terms of the quality of pain (such as dull, aching, or stabbing) along with the presence of accompanying symptoms like stiffness and tenderness.
The pain can be felt in the area above the hips and below the ribcage and can sometimes radiate down to the buttocks and thighs. The severity of pain and accompanying symptoms may vary from person to person.
Finding relief for fibromyalgia back pain may involve using a combination of medication and non-medication approaches.
Medications may include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Antidepressants: duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), or amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Anticonvulsants: pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin)
Non-medication approaches may include:
- physical therapy
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation
- massage therapy
- chiropractic care
Fibromyalgia back pain is characterized by a deep, aching pain in the back region that’s often accompanied by stiffness and tenderness. You may also experience fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and mood symptoms like depression.
If you have back pain, the first step is to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional. They can perform a physical exam, review your medical history, and discuss your symptoms with you to determine if fibromyalgia may be the cause of your back pain.