What is Fibromyalgia? Dr. Norman Swan

by | Neurological, Pain

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome caused by neurological rewiring after the actual injury. Even though the injury has healed the brain fails to realise this and continues to send pain signal. It’s a serious issues requiring full body therapeutic treatment.


Fibromyalgia is another word for a chronic pain syndrome. This is a problem where you have pain in a part of your body. This pain is often preceded by an injury you might’ve had, let’s say, to your back. That injury has now long healed but you are still left with pain.

Cause of Pain

You can get the pain in your pelvis, in your arm and you can get chronic headaches. Fibromyalgia is a very difficult problem, because the pain is very real, but it’s caused by short circuits, rewiring in the brain, by the original injury. That original injury and cause of pain is gone, but you’re left with the rewiring in your brain. This rewiring continues to give you that pain signal.

Prognosis and Treatment

Some people call it fibromyalgia. I don’t like the name fibromyalgia. It makes you think that the problem is actually still here in your arm or in your pelvis or in your head in terms of headaches and it’s not. It’s actually a problem in your nervous system. In order to deal with it, you actually have got to deal with your whole body, not just that part of your body. You must work to get the whole body fit and to begin exercising. You need to have psychological ways of actually managing the pain. These do help by the way, and you must not get hooked on painkillers, because the painkillers are remarkably ineffective in fibromyalgia.

Therefore, I don’t like calling it fibromyalgia. I tend to call it a chronic pain syndrome because that’s what it is. It is a very real pain and it needs a very widespread approach using lots of different techniques to help you get better.

Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist