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Those with IBS More Likely to Have Fibromyalgia

Those with IBS More Likely to Have Fibromyalgia

IBS is not the only condition I have to contend with. If anything, blogging here and in other places, it’s become clear that there are many co-morbid conditions one can suffer from. This includes fibromyalgia.

I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2015, when I began to experience widespread, chronic pain throughout my body on a daily or near-daily basis. By that time, I had had IBS for nearly 20 (specifically 17 years). I was already familiar with pain, albeit pain that was usually somewhat restricted in the area of my body impacted and its scope. Earlier this year, my diagnosis of fibromyalgia was further confirmed by a blood test that found certain biomarkers indicative of an autoimmune issue that is associated with fibromyalgia patients.

The connection between IBS and fibromyalgia

But was I rare in my experience of both IBS and fibro? As it turns out, not at all. In fact, IBS is relatively common in those with fibromyalgia and vice versa. A peer review study published in 2017, further confirmed this co-morbidity. Following up on the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to clarify the relationship between fibro and IBS, it found that the risk for developing IBS increased over seven-fold if one had fibro, compared to those without fibro.2

According to the UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders, both IBS and fibro share many characteristics, such as both occur predominantly in women, both are characterized by disruptions in sleep patterns, both are functional pain disorders (which means a specific biological marker or reason hasn’t been identified with certainty), both can be treated by some of the same modalities and medications, including talk therapy and certain kinds of anti-depressants. The Center further notes that “While IBS is a condition characterized by visceral (intestinal) hypersensitivity, [fibro] is a condition of somatic (skin and muscle) hypersensitivity. There have been several studies, which have shown that IBS patients have normal or decreased somatic sensitivity.” The Center concludes that due to these similarities and intersections, the two disorders may share a potential common cause.3

How to manage IBS and fibromyalgia

In the meantime, I find that both my IBS and my fibro benefit from eating an anti-inflammatory diet, gentle/low impact exercise and a good night’s sleep, and attempting to keep my stress to a minimum.

Do you have both fibro and IBS? If so, what works best for you to keep both under control? Answer in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Yang, T. Y., Chen, C. S., Lin, C. L., Lin, W. M., Kuo, C. N., & Kao, C. H. (2017). Risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Fibromyalgia Patients: A National Database Study. Medicine, 96(14), e6657
  2. Chang, L. The Association of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from