Irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia both have one thing in common. They both are pain syndromes that are chronic.

Fibromyalgia is a painful common condition that involves the muscles. The pain is more often than not very severe and may involve muscles, ligament, tendons and soft tissues. The other symptoms seen in this condition are sleep problems, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, headaches, anxiety and depression.

Irritable bowel syndrome on the other hand, is a condition that is characterized by cramps, abdominal pain, bloating and changes in the bowel movement. The patient may suffer from constipation, diarrhea or both alternatively. Anxiety and depression is also commonly seen in these people.


The connection between IBS and fibromyalgia

The exact cause for both irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia cannot be pointed out. But there are some similarities between the two that cannot be ignored.

1. They are both functional disorders. The structure of the organs are found to be normal but the problem is with the way they work.

2. Research has shown that there might be a link of pain between irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. It is commonly seen that the response to pain in people with these conditions vary from those who do not have them. The patients of irritable bowel syndrome are seen to be hypersensitive to the pain of the intestines and the patients of fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to the pain of muscles and skin. The pain sensation is seen to have a lowered threshold.

3. Patients of both the condition are seen to respond positively to a particular antidepressant group. This is thought to suggest that they have a common or similar cause.

4. Both Irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia share a mechanism which is related to the increased sensitivity of the brain cells. This hypersensitivity can be due to stimuli such as light, touch and temperature changes.

5. The brain has one part that suppresses pain and another that felicitates it. The part that suppresses the pain is believed not to be functioning properly in the patients of both irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. This may lead to hypersensitivity towards pain.

6. Despite the fact that both these conditions may appear in any age group irrespective of the gender, they are most commonly seen in a female who is young or middle aged. It is also seen that these patients have a mind gut connection. Symptoms of anxiety are seen to often manifest as pain in the abdomen and the chest.

7. The common symptom that is seen in both the condition is pain. The patients of irritable bowel syndrome suffer from pelvic pain and pain while digestion. In fibromyalgia the pain may occur in the limbs, neck and all over the body.

Management of IBS and fibromyalgia


Irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia can both be treated by means of drugs and non-drug methods. Drugs which are generally used include Tricyclic antidepressants and Duloxetine. The non drug methods of treatment include cognitive behavior therapy, exercise and destressing.

Many of these methods of treatment only relieve the symptoms and do little to treat the psychological and other underlying causes. Nevertheless, these treatments are worth a try as they bring about a huge difference in the quality of life that the patients lead.

This is republished article. Originally this article was published by