Can an Infection Trigger Fibromyalgia?

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Fibromyalgia is a very frequent syndrome of unknown cause, characterized by generalized pain, fatigue and a number of tender points to palpation. There are many theories on what causes fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that affects women seven times more than men. But there is no conclusive scientific data that points to a singular, specific culprit.

In fact, no sole cause is suspected. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that often gets placed into several categories of disease, depending on the diagnosing physician. This chronic condition has been diagnosed as autoimmune, rheumatic and neurological because it presents with elements of all three and then some. 

A person with fibromyalgia suffers from extreme pain and sensitivity. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, tingling limbs, muscle pain, bone pain, depression, and more. Because fibromyalgia can have such a big effect on the body, in many cases, strong treatment methods are used, such as sleep medication, anti-seizure medication, and antidepressants.

In simplest terms, fibromyalgia is believed to be a change in the central nervous system that heightens pain perception. This change can be brought on by genetics, emotional stress, or, as a new study concludes, physical trauma or infection. Recent evidence has emerged to suggest that fibromyalgia may be the result of insidious damage caused by a chronic infectious disease.

If this is the case, a modified treatment plan that focuses on eradicating the infection and boosting the immune system may prove fruitful in helping patients achieve full remission of disease. In multiple studies, it has been shown that fibromyalgia symptoms are often related to infections, viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. Tick-borne infections, such as Lyme disease, are also often connected to fibromyalgia in some cases. Some fibromyalgia patients even show metal or chemical sensitivities.

True cause of Fibromyalgia may be infectious disease

According to several studies, fibromyalgia patients have a greater chance of having an infection of some kind than someone without fibromyalgia. This indicates that there may be more to the fibromyalgia story than is widely accepted in the medical community.

So, what infections can lead to fibromyalgia symptoms? There are actually a large number of infections and toxicity issues that can lead to fibromyalgia symptoms in the body. According to The Road Back Foundation, 55 percent of fibromyalgia patients state that a “flu-like” virus was the trigger for their symptoms. Many patients with fibromyalgia have lymphocytosis. This is an elevated white blood cell count, which is often indicative of an infection.

In fibromyalgia, it generally means that chronic infection has affected the lymphatic system. Lymphocytosis is often caused by a chronic bacterial, viral or fungal infection. In fibromyalgia, lymphocytosis may be due to Lyme disease, chronic candida syndrome, parasitic infection or a virus. Usually, fibromyalgia occurs when an infection penetrates the lymphatic system and into the connective tissue or nervous system.

Infections that have traveled this far usually do not respond to traditional antibiotics, according to Dr. Dino D. Prato, a naturopathic doctor specializing in fibromyalgia. Several studies have confirmed the link between fibromyalgia and hidden infections. So which infection is the cause of CFS and fibromyalgia? The simple answer is that it isn’t a specific infection, but rather an immune dysfunction.

This allows many opportunistic infections, ones that cannot survive in a healthy immune system, to cause problems. Many antibiotic sensitive infections, including Lyme disease, can be involved. Unfortunately, the lab tests available for these are unreliable, and doctors do not consider any of the Lyme tests to be especially helpful. If chronic diarrhea is present, doctors will do stool testing for Clostridium difficile.

This infection was present in 22% of people with CFS/FMS .Treatment is pretty straightforward. Doctors recommend use of compounded nose sprays for six weeks to treat possible toxin producing nasal staph infections. In 1998, researchers from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London looked at 250 patients with glandular fever or with an upper respiratory tract infection.

After the primary infections were over, 47 percent of glandular fever patients showed signs of fibromyalgia after the fever. Up to 20 percent still showed signs of FMS after 6 months. Only 20 percent of respiratory infection patients showed signs of fibromyalgia at any point after the infection.

The mechanism by which an infection leads to fibromyalgia is probably related to inflammatory or autoimmune changes caused by the infection that starts the fibromyalgia cascade. The actual clinical infection resolves and is long gone, yet fibromyalgia symptoms continue.

Sometimes, the infecting virus or bacteria may hang around and create a persistent low grade infection which activates the autoimmune responses, thereby “triggering” the fibromyalgia. Many times, though, the infection has long disappeared, but permanent changes occurred in the body, and these changes caused fibromyalgia to develop.


The first and most important step in treating fibromyalgia as an infectious disease is to identify the infection. This means being evaluated for Lyme disease, chronic candida syndrome, parasitic infection, and viruses. Once the bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infection has been identified, it will be much easier to eradicate. In addition to treating the infections, augmenting immune function can be very helpful.

Most importantly a simple low-cost mineral called zinc, 20 mg a day for four months. Zinc is arguably the most important nutrient for immune function, and is routinely low when chronic infections or inflammation are present, as these cause large zinc losses in the urine.

After supplementing for the four months, make sure your multivitamin has 15 mg of zinc in it. Taking the zinc will not result in a dramatic clinical response on its own, as often occurs from treating the infections directly, but it will set the stage to allow your immune system to recover. A number of other treatments can also augment immune function, including a good probiotic.

Further prospective studies are needed to better understand which types of infection or trauma are more likely to lead to fibromyalgia and which patient characteristics are most likely associated with development of fibromyalgia after precipitating events.


  • Can an Infection or Injury Trigger Fibromyalgia? via Health line
  • Can Infections Cause Fibromyalgia? via Progressive Health

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