Combination Headaches: People with fibromyalgia can suffer from a combination of both headache types (tension and migraine).

Headache Triggers

No one is exactly sure of the triggers that cause severe headaches in people with fibromyalgia. Sleeping problems and fatigue are probably related to the increased number of headaches suffered during the illness.

Muscle spasms and pain caused by fibromyalgia may also increase the frequency of headaches. Migraine headache triggers include light, sound, and weather. Stress often triggers frequent tension headaches.

Causes of Headaches in Fibromyalgia

Headaches are an extremely common symptom of fibromyalgia. In fact, more than 50% of people with fibromyalgia suffer from constant headaches or migraines.

There are a number of interesting theories as to why people with fibromyalgia suffer from so many headaches. Many of these theories rest on the idea that the same dysfunction that causes fibromyalgia also causes migraine headaches.

  • Sleep Disorders: Migraine and tension headaches may affect people with fibromyalgia because of the disordered sleep that fibromyalgia often causes. Numerous studies conducted on migraine sufferers found that their sleep patterns were significantly disturbed, particularly by sleep apnea. Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer from sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders. This may be the reason why so many people with the syndrome suffer from morning headaches. Sleep disorders also tend to make the severity and frequency of headaches worse.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD): A large percentage of people with fibromyalgia also suffer from another disorder referred to as TMJD. This disorder causes muscle and joint pain in the face, jaw, and neck, and often causes severe migraine headaches. This disorder may account for the large number of headache sufferers among fibromyalgia sufferers. TMJD also causes bruxism (grinding of the teeth) in many fibromyalgia sufferes, which can also contribute to headaches.
  • Low Levels of Serotonin: One of the most widely held theories posits that migraine headaches are actually caused by the same factors that cause fibromyalgia. This would mean that the migraine headaches aren't actually a symptom of fibromyalgia, but are actually a concurrent illness. Recent studies performed on people with migraine headaches show low-levels of serotonin in their brains. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to communicate pain signals to different parts of the brain. People who don't have enough serotonin don't seem to be able to communicate pain signals effectively, resulting in increased, and even severe, pain. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain.
  • Low Levels of Magnesium: The mineral magnesium is also found in low levels in both migraine sufferers and people with fibromyalgia. Studies support that these low magnesium levels may actually be a cause for migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.

How do Headaches affect Fibromyalgia

Unfortunately, headaches can make fibromyalgia pain much more intense. Headaches, especially migraines, tend to increase your fatigue, making pain much more difficult to tolerate.

In fact, 36% of fibromyalgia sufferers with chronic migraines experience greater levels of depression and pain in their illness.

If you have severe headaches with your fibromyalgia, contact your health care provider to find a treatment that is suitable for you.

Table of Contents
1. Chronic Headaches
2. What causes headaches?
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