The Seven Types of Fibromyalgia Pain

You hear a lot about “fibromyalgia pain,” but those of us with fibromyalgia (FMS) experience several kinds of pain.

Medically speaking, only a few of the pain types I talk about here have names and definitions. But just as Eskimos have several words for snow, I think we need to have several ways to name, define and categorize our pain. I’ve created some of my own categories, based on my experience and on conversations with other fibromites.

My hope is that understanding the medical terms will help us communicate better with doctors, while my categories will help you understand your illness and let you know you’re not alone.

Living with Pain

It’s difficult to live with pain, especially when it’s unpredictable. The more you learn about your pain and its triggers, the better you may be able to manage it. Finding the right set of treatments takes time and experimentation, but many of us do find significant relief.

Types of Pain

The first three types of fibromyalgia pain are medically defined:

The next four types are my own creation, which is obvious by their names. Don’t use these terms in a doctor’s office (unless you want to be seen as crazy), but these labels may help you get to know your body’s quirks, triggers, patterns, etc.:

  • Knife in the Voodoo Doll
  • Randomly Roving Pain
  • Sparkler Burns
  • Rattled Nerves

First, our medically defined pain types.


“Hyper” means excess and “algesia” means pain. Hyperalgesia is the medical term for pain amplification in FMS. Our brains appear to take normal pain signals and “turn up the volume,” making them more severe than they would normally be.

Most of the drugs used for managing FMS pain are aimed, at least in part, at reducing hyperalgesia.


Is your skin painful to the touch? A symptom that perplexes a lot of us is allodynia. That’s what it’s called when mild pressure from clothing or gentle massage causes pain. A lot of people describe allodynia as similar to a bad sunburn.

Allodynia is a fairly rare type of pain — other than FMS, it’s only associated with a handful of conditions, including neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia (shingles) and migraine.

Allodynia is believed to be a hypersensitive reaction that may result from the central sensitization associated with FMS. The pain signals originate with specialized nerves, called nociceptors, that sense information about things like temperature and painful stimuli right from the skin.

Painful Paresthesia

Paresthesias are odd nerve sensations that can feel like crawling, tingling, burning, itching or numbness. Sometimes, these sensations can be painful. Paresthesias are also associated with peripheral neuropathy, chemotherapy drugs, multiple sclerosisand migraine.

Many common FMS treatments can help alleviate paresthesia-related pain, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Some people also have good luck with vitamin B12, capsaicin cream, massage, and acupuncture.

Continue Read… NEXT: My Own Fibromyalgia Pain Categories