Fibromyalgia Muscle Weakness: Strategies for Strength & Stability

Table of contents

Fibromyalgia Muscle Weakness: Strategies for Strength & Stability

Fibromyalgia can cause persistent, widespread pain across different parts of the body, coupled with profound fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Another symptom that it may cause is muscle weakness. This symptom is distinct from general fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome and it can affect your daily activities. Yet many with fibromyalgia don’t understand why it occurs or how to manage it.

In this article, we'll dive into what causes these muscle weaknesses, how to distinguish this symptom from multiple sclerosis-related weakness, and strategies to manage it effectively.

What causes fibromyalgia muscle weakness?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is characterized by a range of symptoms that complicate its identification and management.

Although you can lose muscle strength and tone if you are moving less (sometimes called deconditioning), physical muscle deterioration or nerve impairment usually are not the cause of muscle weakness in fibro. Instead, multiple factors contribute to muscle weakness, including disruptions within the central nervous system, imbalances in hormone levels, and disturbances during sleep.

Central nervous system's role

The central nervous system, encompassing the brain and spinal cord, plays a significant role in the manifestation of fibromyalgia symptoms. You might have a heightened pain response due to the way your central nervous systems interprets stimuli and signals from different parts of your body.

This improper signal processing, which involves mechanisms such as central sensitization and the inhibition of pain-reducing pathways, as well as alterations in neurotransmitter levels, often results in ongoing muscle discomfort and fatigue1.

Hormonal imbalances & their effects

Hormonal fluctuations, such as those experienced during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, can intensify the symptoms of fibromyalgia. While these shifts in hormone levels are not life-threatening, they can significantly affect daily life for those with fibromyalgia and worsen the muscle weakness that comes with the condition2.

The impact of sleep disturbances

If you live with fibro you probably already know that getting a good night's sleep can be a serious challenge. Many people with fibro experience sleep disturbances, and this can exacerbate chronic pain, ongoing tiredness and fatigue, which in turn may worsen the muscle weakness that you face3.

What is the difference between MS muscle weakness & fibro muscle weakness?

Due to similar symptoms like joint discomfort, fibromyalgia can be confused with other disorders. Muscle pain and weakness are common signs in illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Though fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis (MS) share commonalities, they are distinct conditions. MS is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system, marked by unique symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and Lhermitte’s sign – a sharp, electric sensation that runs down the back and limbs when bending the neck forward. These particular symptoms are not typically seen in fibromyalgia.

You can also rule out MS by identifying it with an MRI. Whereas fibromyalgia cannot be detected through such imaging techniques4.

Can you lose the ability to walk with fibromyalgia muscle weakness?

You might be concerned that the muscle weakness from fibromyalgia could eventually prevent you from walking. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia can significantly impact your balance and gait, also known as your walking style5.

Although you may experience changes in how you walk and maintain balance due to the pain, stiffness, and other fibromyalgia symptoms, they typically do not progress to the point of total immobility, in which you lose all ability to walk. And the really good news is that it is possible to improve your muscle strength and ability to walk when you have fibromyalgia – how far you can walk today, doesn't have to be your limit.

Strategies to manage muscle weakness in fibromyalgia

Developing a plan to tackle muscle weakness in fibromyalgia involves a multidisciplinary approach that targets the broader aspects of the condition itself. Such a plan may include physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and the incorporation of certain medications and supplements, all to relieve pain and improve the quality of life.

Let's dive deeper into these methods to understand how they can be strategically applied to manage muscle weakness.

Retraining your pain response

Our perception of chronic pain and nerve pain is profoundly influenced by our mental state, especially when such discomfort arises from physical or emotional trauma. This experience of pain is also modulated by the role that pain receptors play in our bodies.

When it comes to retraining your pain response. Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation are effective tools for recognizing stress triggers and controlling the interplay between stress and pain. At MoreGoodDays® our program provides psychological support, including cognitive behavioral therapy and stress-management tools, empowering you to navigate the emotional challenges associated with fibromyalgia.

With practice and dedication, you can gradually reshape your brain's response, leading to a reduction in the intensity and impact of your pain.

Exercise & physical therapy

Studies suggest that strength training, which can help improve muscle strength and endurance, can also be effective in reducing fibromyalgia pain6. Like anyone starting a new exercise program, it's important that you engage in a gradual and controlled strength training program, tailored to your own specific needs and limitations. Start low, and go slow, building up gradually to achieve long-term benefits.

By incorporating strength training into your routine, you may not only experience a reduction in pain but also enjoy an enhanced sense of wellbeing and a more active lifestyle. And it doesn't have to be sweating in the gym – walking the dog, a water aerobics class, a bike ride with your kids – anything that gets you moving counts.

Physical therapy can also play a crucial role in mitigating muscle weakness that accompanies fibromyalgia. Techniques such as myofascial release have been shown to be effective in improving stiffness and mobility7.

Medications & supplements

While medication can be a part of your comprehensive pain-management plan, it's important not to rely on it as the primary treatment. Medication should be seen as a tool that enables you to engage in other effective pain-management strategies to improve your condition. These strategies may include education, lifestyle adjustments, and psychological support.

Common medications prescribed for fibromyalgia pains include:

  • over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline and duloxetine, which can help manage pain and improve mood
  • pain and inflammation modulators such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • anti-seizure medications such as pregabalin and gabapentin to help regulate the over-sensitized nervous system.

Your doctor is the best person to speak to about which medication or pain relievers may be suitable for your individual situation.

Complementary therapies for muscle weakness

Alongside traditional methods for managing depression, complementary therapies such as Tai Chi, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy can also play a significant role in pain management.

These therapies may be effective in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, including muscle weakness.

Tai chi & yoga to treat fibromyalgia

Complementary therapies like Tai Chi and yoga can offer substantial benefits for individuals with fibromyalgia. These practices not only enhance flexibility, balance, and strength to combat muscle weakness, but their meditative aspects also aid in symptom management and promote muscle strengthening and repair8.

Acupuncture & muscle relief

As an alternative healing practice, acupuncture stands out as a potential source of comfort for those suffering from the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This technique is designed to enhance the body's energy flow and foster a state of relaxation, which may lead to improvements in symptoms such as chronic pain and sleep disturbances that often exacerbate muscle weakness9.

Massage therapy's role in relieving symptoms

Massage therapy can be an effective tool for managing fibromyalgia symptoms10, providing benefits such as:

  • reducing muscle tension
  • promoting relaxation and stress relief
  • indirectly addressing muscle weakness
  • improving overall wellbeing.

Managing your energy

For those with fibromyalgia, implementing strategies for energy conservation and pacing can be beneficial in navigating the day-to-day hurdles associated with muscle weakness and fatigue.

By strategically organizing your daily routine, regulating the intensity and duration of activities, and ensuring regular intervals for rest and recuperation, you can more effectively manage your energy levels and minimize the risk of overexertion.

Organizing your day to manage fibromyalgia weakness

Navigating through the day with fibromyalgia-induced muscle weakness calls for thoughtful planning and activity moderation. Consider these strategies to help manage your energy:

  • Keep a log of your daily activities and fatigue levels to identify patterns and optimize your schedule.
  • Schedule tasks that require more energy during times when you feel most alert and strong.
  • Pace yourself by moderating the speed and intensity of activities to conserve energy and prevent fatigue.

Importance of rest & relaxation

An effective management strategy for fibromyalgia-related muscle weakness requires a dedication to rest and relaxation. A good mattress, experimenting with different relaxation methods, and planning rest periods in advance can all greatly enhance the quality of your sleep. These exercises not only help to avoid extreme exhaustion but also aid in the restoration of muscle strength.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall wellbeing.

Our program also provides psychological support, including cognitive behavioral therapy and stress management tools, empowering you to navigate the emotional challenges associated with fibromyalgia.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.

  1. Gur A, Oktayoglu P. Central nervous system abnormalities in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome: new concepts in treatment. Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(13):1274-94. doi: 10.2174/138161208799316348. PMID: 18537652. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18537652/
  2. Alonso C, Loevinger BL, Muller D, Coe CL. Menstrual cycle influences on pain and emotion in women with fibromyalgia. J Psychosom Res. 2004 Nov;57(5):451-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2004.05.003. PMID: 15581648. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15581648/
  3. Bigatti SM, Hernandez AM, Cronan TA, Rand KL. Sleep disturbances in fibromyalgia syndrome: relationship to pain and depression. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Jul 15;59(7):961-7. doi: 10.1002/art.23828. PMID: 18576297; PMCID: PMC3691959. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3691959
  4. Siracusa, R.; Paola, R.D.; Cuzzocrea, S.; Impellizzeri, D. Fibromyalgia: Pathogenesis, Mechanisms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options Update. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 3891. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22083891
  5. Costa ID, Gamundí A, Miranda JG, França LG, De Santana CN, Montoya P. Altered Functional Performance in Patients with Fibromyalgia. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Jan 26;11:14. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00014. PMID: 28184193; PMCID: PMC5266716. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5266716/
  6. Busch AJ, Webber SC, Richards RS, Bidonde J, Schachter CL, Schafer LA, Danyliw A, Sawant A, Dal Bello-Haas V, Rader T, Overend TJ. Resistance exercise training for fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Dec 20;2013(12):CD010884. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010884. PMID: 24362925; PMCID: PMC6544808. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6544808/
  7. Castro-Sánchez AM, Matarán-Peñarrocha GA, Granero-Molina J, Aguilera-Manrique G, Quesada-Rubio JM, Moreno-Lorenzo C. Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:561753. doi: 10.1155/2011/561753. Epub 2010 Dec 28. PMID: 21234327; PMCID: PMC3018656. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018656/
  8. Wang C, Schmid CH, Rones R, Kalish R, Yinh J, Goldenberg DL, Lee Y, McAlindon T. A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia. N Engl J Med. 2010 Aug 19;363(8):743-54. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0912611. PMID: 20818876; PMCID: PMC3023168. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023168/
  9. Zhang XC, Chen H, Xu WT, Song YY, Gu YH, Ni GX. Acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Pain Res. 2019 Jan 30;12:527-542. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S186227. PMID: 30787631; PMCID: PMC6365227. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6365227/
  10. Massage therapy for health. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/massage-therapy-for-health

Fibromyalgia Muscle Weakness: Strategies for Strength & Stability

Table of contents

Fibromyalgia Muscle Weakness: Strategies for Strength & Stability

Fibromyalgia can cause persistent, widespread pain across different parts of the body, coupled with profound fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Another symptom that it may cause is muscle weakness. This symptom is distinct from general fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome and it can affect your daily activities. Yet many with fibromyalgia don’t understand why it occurs or how to manage it.

In this article, we'll dive into what causes these muscle weaknesses, how to distinguish this symptom from multiple sclerosis-related weakness, and strategies to manage it effectively.

What causes fibromyalgia muscle weakness?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is characterized by a range of symptoms that complicate its identification and management.

Although you can lose muscle strength and tone if you are moving less (sometimes called deconditioning), physical muscle deterioration or nerve impairment usually are not the cause of muscle weakness in fibro. Instead, multiple factors contribute to muscle weakness, including disruptions within the central nervous system, imbalances in hormone levels, and disturbances during sleep.

Central nervous system's role

The central nervous system, encompassing the brain and spinal cord, plays a significant role in the manifestation of fibromyalgia symptoms. You might have a heightened pain response due to the way your central nervous systems interprets stimuli and signals from different parts of your body.

This improper signal processing, which involves mechanisms such as central sensitization and the inhibition of pain-reducing pathways, as well as alterations in neurotransmitter levels, often results in ongoing muscle discomfort and fatigue1.

Hormonal imbalances & their effects

Hormonal fluctuations, such as those experienced during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, can intensify the symptoms of fibromyalgia. While these shifts in hormone levels are not life-threatening, they can significantly affect daily life for those with fibromyalgia and worsen the muscle weakness that comes with the condition2.

The impact of sleep disturbances

If you live with fibro you probably already know that getting a good night's sleep can be a serious challenge. Many people with fibro experience sleep disturbances, and this can exacerbate chronic pain, ongoing tiredness and fatigue, which in turn may worsen the muscle weakness that you face3.

What is the difference between MS muscle weakness & fibro muscle weakness?

Due to similar symptoms like joint discomfort, fibromyalgia can be confused with other disorders. Muscle pain and weakness are common signs in illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Though fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis (MS) share commonalities, they are distinct conditions. MS is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system, marked by unique symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and Lhermitte’s sign – a sharp, electric sensation that runs down the back and limbs when bending the neck forward. These particular symptoms are not typically seen in fibromyalgia.

You can also rule out MS by identifying it with an MRI. Whereas fibromyalgia cannot be detected through such imaging techniques4.

Can you lose the ability to walk with fibromyalgia muscle weakness?

You might be concerned that the muscle weakness from fibromyalgia could eventually prevent you from walking. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia can significantly impact your balance and gait, also known as your walking style5.

Although you may experience changes in how you walk and maintain balance due to the pain, stiffness, and other fibromyalgia symptoms, they typically do not progress to the point of total immobility, in which you lose all ability to walk. And the really good news is that it is possible to improve your muscle strength and ability to walk when you have fibromyalgia – how far you can walk today, doesn't have to be your limit.

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Strategies to manage muscle weakness in fibromyalgia

Developing a plan to tackle muscle weakness in fibromyalgia involves a multidisciplinary approach that targets the broader aspects of the condition itself. Such a plan may include physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and the incorporation of certain medications and supplements, all to relieve pain and improve the quality of life.

Let's dive deeper into these methods to understand how they can be strategically applied to manage muscle weakness.

Retraining your pain response

Our perception of chronic pain and nerve pain is profoundly influenced by our mental state, especially when such discomfort arises from physical or emotional trauma. This experience of pain is also modulated by the role that pain receptors play in our bodies.

When it comes to retraining your pain response. Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation are effective tools for recognizing stress triggers and controlling the interplay between stress and pain. At MoreGoodDays® our program provides psychological support, including cognitive behavioral therapy and stress-management tools, empowering you to navigate the emotional challenges associated with fibromyalgia.

With practice and dedication, you can gradually reshape your brain's response, leading to a reduction in the intensity and impact of your pain.

Exercise & physical therapy

Studies suggest that strength training, which can help improve muscle strength and endurance, can also be effective in reducing fibromyalgia pain6. Like anyone starting a new exercise program, it's important that you engage in a gradual and controlled strength training program, tailored to your own specific needs and limitations. Start low, and go slow, building up gradually to achieve long-term benefits.

By incorporating strength training into your routine, you may not only experience a reduction in pain but also enjoy an enhanced sense of wellbeing and a more active lifestyle. And it doesn't have to be sweating in the gym – walking the dog, a water aerobics class, a bike ride with your kids – anything that gets you moving counts.

Physical therapy can also play a crucial role in mitigating muscle weakness that accompanies fibromyalgia. Techniques such as myofascial release have been shown to be effective in improving stiffness and mobility7.

Medications & supplements

While medication can be a part of your comprehensive pain-management plan, it's important not to rely on it as the primary treatment. Medication should be seen as a tool that enables you to engage in other effective pain-management strategies to improve your condition. These strategies may include education, lifestyle adjustments, and psychological support.

Common medications prescribed for fibromyalgia pains include:

  • over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline and duloxetine, which can help manage pain and improve mood
  • pain and inflammation modulators such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • anti-seizure medications such as pregabalin and gabapentin to help regulate the over-sensitized nervous system.

Your doctor is the best person to speak to about which medication or pain relievers may be suitable for your individual situation.

Complementary therapies for muscle weakness

Alongside traditional methods for managing depression, complementary therapies such as Tai Chi, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy can also play a significant role in pain management.

These therapies may be effective in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, including muscle weakness.

Tai chi & yoga to treat fibromyalgia

Complementary therapies like Tai Chi and yoga can offer substantial benefits for individuals with fibromyalgia. These practices not only enhance flexibility, balance, and strength to combat muscle weakness, but their meditative aspects also aid in symptom management and promote muscle strengthening and repair8.

Acupuncture & muscle relief

As an alternative healing practice, acupuncture stands out as a potential source of comfort for those suffering from the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This technique is designed to enhance the body's energy flow and foster a state of relaxation, which may lead to improvements in symptoms such as chronic pain and sleep disturbances that often exacerbate muscle weakness9.

Massage therapy's role in relieving symptoms

Massage therapy can be an effective tool for managing fibromyalgia symptoms10, providing benefits such as:

  • reducing muscle tension
  • promoting relaxation and stress relief
  • indirectly addressing muscle weakness
  • improving overall wellbeing.

Managing your energy

For those with fibromyalgia, implementing strategies for energy conservation and pacing can be beneficial in navigating the day-to-day hurdles associated with muscle weakness and fatigue.

By strategically organizing your daily routine, regulating the intensity and duration of activities, and ensuring regular intervals for rest and recuperation, you can more effectively manage your energy levels and minimize the risk of overexertion.

Organizing your day to manage fibromyalgia weakness

Navigating through the day with fibromyalgia-induced muscle weakness calls for thoughtful planning and activity moderation. Consider these strategies to help manage your energy:

  • Keep a log of your daily activities and fatigue levels to identify patterns and optimize your schedule.
  • Schedule tasks that require more energy during times when you feel most alert and strong.
  • Pace yourself by moderating the speed and intensity of activities to conserve energy and prevent fatigue.

Importance of rest & relaxation

An effective management strategy for fibromyalgia-related muscle weakness requires a dedication to rest and relaxation. A good mattress, experimenting with different relaxation methods, and planning rest periods in advance can all greatly enhance the quality of your sleep. These exercises not only help to avoid extreme exhaustion but also aid in the restoration of muscle strength.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall wellbeing.

Our program also provides psychological support, including cognitive behavioral therapy and stress management tools, empowering you to navigate the emotional challenges associated with fibromyalgia.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.