What Causes Flair Ups in Fibromyalgia?

Written by zoobia ilyas
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What Causes Flair Ups in Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating pain disorder. (Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

During fibromyalgia flare ups, sufferers experience more pain and fatigue than usual. While some causes of flare ups are out of the sufferer's control, others are not. Learning which conditions aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms allows sufferers to better manage and even prevent flare ups.

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Exercise and physical exertion can trigger fibromyalgia flare ups. Fibromyalgia sufferers often experience intense pain in their muscles, as well as fatigue, after vigorous exercise. To prevent fibromyalgia flare ups, sufferers should only exercise five to 10 minutes each day, increasing the length of each workout gradually. They should also limit other sources of physical activity, such as appointments or extra responsibilities in the workplace, to avoid inflicting more stress upon the body.


Fibromyalgia sufferers experience flare ups when in stressful conditions. The anxiety associated with stress aggravates fibromyalgia symptoms, leading to severe headaches, muscle pain and anxiety attacks. Although researchers can't explain precisely why emotional stress triggers fibromyalgia flare ups, some believe that a body under stress emits hormones that affect how sufferers interpret physical pain. To avoid flare ups related to stress, sufferers should take breaks during stressful conditions, meditating throughout the day.

Environmental Changes

Changes in weather patterns or noise and brightness levels can cause fibromyalgia flare ups. Sudden environmental changes cause and intensify pain, headaches and muscle soreness. Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia also report experiencing depression during flare ups. Although there is no concrete evidence linking environmental factors to fibromyalgia flare ups, sufferers identify cold, wet and humid weather as a particularly significant factor in worsening fibromyalgia symptoms. To prevent surprise flare ups, fibromyalgia sufferers should prepare for weather by wearing warm clothing, sealing drafts inside the home and installing bright lights to mimic sunlight. They may also want to consider moving to a warm climate with low humidity.


Smoking aggravates fibromyalgia symptoms by interfering with how well muscles function. Smoking pushes nicotine into the bloodstream, decreasing how much oxygen circulates throughout the body. Muscles are deprived of the oxygen they need to repair themselves. As a result, fibromyalgia sufferers experience an increase in muscle pain and soreness.

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