Fibromyalgia Flare Ups: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

fibromyalgia flare up

Chronic fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain and exhaustion. It can also cause other symptoms, such as sleep problems, memory issues, and mood swings. Fibromyalgia flare ups can involve widespread pain, fatigue and other symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, depression, irritable bowel syndrome and headaches. It is important to recognize the signs of a fibromyalgia flare-up and provide support to help manage them.

Fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is more common in women and tends to run in families. Some research suggests that trauma, such as physical or emotional abuse, may trigger the condition. Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary from person to person. They can range from mild to severe and can come and go over time. The most common symptom is pain, which can feel like a dull ache or a burning sensation. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.

Fibromyalgia flare-up triggers

There are a number of potential triggers that can cause a fibromyalgia flare-up. These include physical or emotional stress, weather changes, lack of sleep, and certain medications.

Physical or emotional stress is a common trigger for fibromyalgia flares. When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones that can make the pain worse. Emotional stress can also lead to disturbed sleep, which can make the pain worse.

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Weather changes can also trigger a flare-up. For some people, cold weather makes the pain worse. Others find that humid weather is a trigger. Lack of sleep can trigger a flare-up. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have a chance to repair the damage from the day. This can make the pain worse.

When these types of stresses disrupt the body’s normal routine they can trigger a flare-up of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. It is important to identify what aggravates your symptoms by keeping a log of your activities, what you eat, and how you sleep for several weeks so that you can identify any patterns that may exist between these factors and your flare-ups.

Understanding the reasons why your symptoms worsen will help you take better control of them.

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What causes a fibromyalgia flare?

  1. Physical, emotional, and psychological stress

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes chronic pain and fatigue. Flare-ups, or episodes of increased symptoms, can be triggered by physical, emotional, or psychological stress.

Physical stressors include things like illness, injury, and lack of sleep. Emotional stressors can be things like anxiety, depression, and grief.

  1. Weather changes

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can cause widespread pain and fatigue. Flare-ups are periods when symptoms are worse than usual.

There are many potential triggers for flare-ups, including weather changes. Cold, damp weather is a common trigger for people with fibromyalgia. This may be because the cold can cause muscle and joint pain, and the dampness can add to

  1. Physical injuries

Physical injuries are a common trigger for fibromyalgia flares. Even minor injuries can cause significant pain and other symptoms in people with fibromyalgia.

The exact mechanism by which physical injuries trigger flares is not fully understood. However, it is thought that physical injuries may cause or exacerbate existing nerve pain.

  1. Hereditary factors

There is some evidence to suggest that fibromyalgia may be hereditary. Studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) who have fibromyalgia are more likely to develop the condition themselves. However, more research is needed to confirm this link.

  1. Sleep disturbances

Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being, but it can be especially important for people with fibromyalgia. Poor sleep can worsen pain and fatigue, two of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia. It can also make it more difficult to manage other symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.

  1. Digestive disorders

Digestive disorders are a common trigger for fibromyalgia flare-ups. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is particularly common in people with fibromyalgia and can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is another digestive disorder that has been linked to fibromyalgia flare-ups.

  1. Nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies are a potential trigger for fibromyalgia flare-ups. While there is no specific diet that has been proven to help with the condition, some people find that certain foods can trigger their symptoms. Common triggers include coffee, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and gluten.

Eating a healthy diet and getting enough vitamins and minerals is important for everyone, but it may be especially important for people with fibromyalgia. Some nutrients that have been linked to improved fibromyalgia symptoms include magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and CoQ10.

There are many potential triggers for fibromyalgia flares, and everyone experiences the condition differently. However, some common triggers include nutritional deficiencies, certain foods, and stress. Eating a healthy diet and

  1. Hormone imbalances

Hormone imbalances can be a trigger for fibromyalgia flares. This is because hormones play a role in regulating pain and inflammation levels in the body. Estrogen, in particular, has been found to be a key player in fibromyalgia flares. Women with fibromyalgia often report that their symptoms worsen during times of hormonal changes, such as around the time of their period or during menopause.

There are a number of other potential triggers for fibromyalgia flares, including stress, lack of sleep, weather changes, and certain medications. Identifying your own personal triggers can be helpful in managing your condition. If you think a particular trigger is causing your symptoms to flare, try to avoid it or take steps to reduce its impact.

What are the symptoms of a fibromyalgia flare?

  1. Pain in key points

The symptoms of a fibromyalgia flare in the key points can include:

  • Tenderness, pain, and stiffness in specific areas of the body.
  • Fatigue and lack of energy.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or nighttime waking due to pain.
  1. Body pain

Fibromyalgia flare-ups can cause a variety of types of body pain, including:

  1. Generalized Pain: This type of pain is felt all over the body and can be described as aching, burning, stabbing, or tingling sensations.
  2. Muscle Pain: Fibromyalgia sufferers may also experience muscle pain due to increased muscle tension due to fatigue or stress. This type of pain can be described as tense, stiff muscles that are difficult to move around in.
  3. Joint Pain: Joint pain associated with fibromyalgia typically affects the joints in the hands and wrists but can also affect other joints in the body such as hips or knees; this type of pain usually causes stiffness when moving around or using certain joints for activities like lifting heavy objects or climbing stairs.
  4. Fatigue: Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia and can occur during a flare-up. This may be due to a lack of sleep or excessive physical activity. Sleep hygiene practices such as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, limiting napping during the day, limiting screen time before bed, avoiding eating large meals late in the evening, and creating a dark and quiet sleep environment can help reduce fatigue during a flare-up.
  1. Mood disturbances: Mood disturbances associated with a fibromyalgia flare can include the following, consider using a mood tracker to manage them:
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Memory problems or feeling like your brain is “foggy”.
  • Sleep problems.
  1. Cognitive dysfunction: The symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in a fibromyalgia flare can include: pain, fatigue, work problems, a messy household, difficulty concentrating and multitasking, short-term memory loss, difficulty putting sentences together, and feeling disoriented or confused. Additionally, it may be difficult to drive safely due to impaired judgment and motor skills.
  1. Anxiety and depression: The symptoms of anxiety and depression in a fibromyalgia flare can include:
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
  • Restlessness or feeling like you have to move constantly.
  • Irritability, anger, frustration, or rage towards others.
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Withdrawal from family and friends.
  1. Gastrointestinal symptoms: The gastrointestinal symptoms of a fibromyalgia flare can include: abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing or chewing food, feeling full quickly after eating small amounts of food, and nausea.
  1. Urinary symptoms: The symptoms of a fibromyalgia flare involving the urinary system include:
  • Difficulty urinating or increased urination frequency.
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Urinary tract infections or cystitis.

How do you manage and treat a fibromyalgia flare?

Step 1: Understand the cause of the flare

The causes of a fibromyalgia flare can vary from person to person. Common triggers include stress, lack of sleep, changes in medication or treatment protocols, weather conditions, and holidays.

To prevent or manage flares, it is essential to review the common triggers and take steps to modify them. Pacing yourself, managing stress levels, and getting adequate sleep are all key components in prevention. Additionally, keeping a journal will help you identify patterns that may help lessen your flares over time.

Step 2: Identify triggers and make changes to manage them

  1. Review the common triggers for fibromyalgia flares, such as stress, lack of sleep, certain foods or drinks, and weather changes.
  2. Keep a journal to track your symptoms, diet, exercise habits, and other activities that may be triggering your flare-ups.
  3. Identify patterns in your disease by giving each symptom a number between 1-10 to quantify its severity and noting down any potential triggers that may be contributing to it (e.g., certain foods).
  4. Talk to your healthcare provider about treatments such as medications or cognitive behavioral therapy that may help reduce flares in conjunction with lifestyle changes such as pacing yourself better and reducing stress levels through techniques like mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises.

Step 3: Create a daily routine that reduces stress

Creating a daily routine that reduces stress can help manage and treat a fibromyalgia flare by providing an outlet for releasing pent-up emotions, reducing physical tension and pain, improving sleep quality, reducing fatigue and tiredness, enhancing mental clarity and focus, reducing reliance on medication(s), and providing a sense of control over the condition.

Step 4: Massage daily

Daily massage is an important part of managing and treating a fibromyalgia flare. It can help reduce stress, increase relaxation, improve sleep quality and promote overall well-being. Massage can also help relieve muscle pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia flares.

Additionally, it can improve blood flow to the affected area which helps speed up the healing process. Furthermore, daily massage helps individuals better manage their condition by providing them with an outlet for releasing tension from their muscles that may otherwise contribute to flare-ups.

Finally, regular massage treatments can also provide an outlet for finding joy in life despite the discomfort caused by fibromyalgia flares.

Step 5: Use soothing techniques such as hot baths

Hot baths can help manage and treat a fibromyalgia flare by providing relief from pain, relaxation, and warmth.

Taking warm baths or showers can help reduce pain, relax the body and mind, increase blood flow to the muscles to aid in healing, improve sleep quality, and boost overall well-being.

Step 6: Try using herbal remedies

  1. Follow good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time each night and avoiding screens (TV, smartphone, tablet) within an hour of bedtime.
  2. Apply heating pads and take warm baths or showers to help ease pain and discomfort caused by a flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms.
  3. Pace yourself on days you’re not feeling well by determining what needs to be done today and what can wait until the flare is over to reduce stress levels associated with completing tasks quickly due to lack of energy/motivation/pain tolerance at that moment (e.g., taking longer than usual to complete homework).
  4. Practice meditation and breathing exercises regularly to reduce stress levels associated with dealing with chronic pain from fibromyalgia as well as find joy in life despite discomfort from physical symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches/pains, etc.

Step 7: Get physical activity

Getting physical activity can help manage and treat a fibromyalgia flare by reducing stress, improving sleep quality, and promoting overall health.

By getting regular exercises, such as aerobic activities and stretching, individuals with fibromyalgia can reduce their pain and improve their overall well-being.

Regular physical activity also helps reduce the number of flare-ups experienced by those with the condition.

Step 8: Manage your sleep schedule

  1. Establish a regular sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends.
  2. Maintain a cool and dark bedroom environment: Keep your bedroom cold and avoid using screens (TVs, smartphones, tablets) within an hour of bedtime.
  3. Apply heating pads or take warm baths/showers: These can help soothe pain and relax tense muscles during flares.
  4. Pace yourself on days you’re feeling ill: Determine what needs to be done today versus what can wait until the flare is over; don’t overdo it physically or mentally if possible today!
  5. Practice meditation/breathing exercises: This can help with relaxation during flares as well as coping strategies for dealing with the pain associated with fibromyalgia symptoms.
  6. Distract yourself with music/tv shows/books: Make sure they are not too stimulating (no news programs), just something that will take your mind off things for a while!

Step 9: Use mindfulness techniques

  1. Keep a log of daily routines, activities, symptoms, sleep patterns, and meals to identify the triggers of your flare.
  2. Seek assistance with stress management through psychotherapy, group therapy, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
  3. Focus on good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time each night and avoiding screens (TVs, smartphones etc.) within an hour of bedtime.
  4. Use heating pads and take warm baths or showers to ease pain and discomfort during flare-ups.
  5. Pace yourself on days you’re not feeling well by determining what needs to be done today versus what can wait until your flare is over and you’re feeling better.
  6. Practice meditation and breathing exercises as these can help reduce stress levels.

What treatments are available for Fibromyalgia?

Treatments for Fibromyalgia include medication, such as antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, naltrexone (an anti-opioid medication), talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help alter the way a person thinks about things and may help tackle fibromyalgia more positively; psychotherapy which can also help someone with fibromyalgia understand and deal with their thoughts and feelings; alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy which may help with relaxation and stress.

How can a Fibromyalgia Flare be avoided?

  1. Discuss the use of prophylactic drugs with your doctor. These include antidepressants, tranquilizers, and drugs for nerve pain.
  2. One of the best strategies to prevent or lessen the pain brought on by Fibromyalgia flare-ups is through regular, mild exercise.
  3. Moderate exercise may initially exacerbate pain, but over time it can prevent or reduce pain, increase muscular endurance and strength, prevent depression, and improve mood.
  4. Steer clear of activities that can exacerbate symptoms by elevating stress levels.

Fibromyalgia has no known cure, although medicines and lifestyle modifications can help manage the condition and lessen the chance of flare-ups. Exercise on a daily basis is one of the best strategies to control pain and prevent flare-ups. Additionally, doctors might offer advice on how to better manage symptoms.

Fibromyalgia Companion App

We highly recommend using CareClinic app for managing fibromyalgia. CareClinic allows you to easily track your symptoms in real-time, so that you can identify patterns or potential triggers of flare-ups. You can also set reminders for regular activities such as exercise or medication, as well as for self-care activities that can help reduce stress and lessen pain.

The app also allows you to track sleep patterns and diet, which can play an important role in managing fibromyalgia symptoms. Having all of this information compiled in one place makes it easier to identify any patterns or triggers that may be causing flare-ups. It is also available on iPhone and Android so you can have a secure, private, and travel-friendly way of recording your information on the go! Try it by clicking here.


In conclusion, Fibromyalgia is a condition that can be managed with the right strategies and lifestyle modifications. Taking steps to identify triggers, practicing stress-relieving techniques such as mindfulness and CBT, seeking assistance from a medical professional, and maintaining good sleep hygiene are important steps in managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Exercise on a regular basis can help reduce pain and prevent flare-ups, as well as improve overall health. It is also important to talk to your doctor about any prophylactic drugs that might be available to help lessen the severity of flare-ups. With proper management, Fibromyalgia can be managed and individuals can lead a healthy lifestyle. You can do this and more using the CareClinic app available for iOS or Android, click here to try it!

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Alexandra V.