Fibromyalgia & IBS Go Together

Fibromyalgia (FMS), chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) frequently go together. We do know that all three conditions include imbalances of the chemical serotonin. As in fibro and CFS  it’s an imbalance in the brain, while with IBS it’s in the gut section.

Like FMS and ME/CFS, IBS by itself can be debilitating and can impose a lot of restrictions on your diet and lifestyle.

Anything that causes pain or stresses your body can exacerbate FMS/ME/CFS symptoms, so it’s especially important to treat your IBS. With some effort, IBS symptoms typically can be well managed.

Do you have fibromyalgia along with your IBS? Tragically, you are a long way from alone. Researchers have found that there is a huge overlap between the two disorders. Since both are Chronic, ineffectively comprehended, and difficult to treat issue, searching for shared conviction between the two is a path for specialists to attempt to comprehend what causes – and what may help treat – the manifestations of each. How about we investigate the cover amongst fibromyalgia and IBS.

Why Do These Illnesses Go Together?

The short answer to the question of why these conditions often occur together is, “Nobody knows.” The long answer is, at this stage, speculative. Similarities that bear looking at include:

  • All three conditions may involve serotonin imbalances,
  • IBS and ME/CFS both can begin after another illness,
  • IBS and FMS both are strongly linked to stress.

Overlap Between Fibromyalgia and IBS

Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia is a disorder which have a high rate of overlapping illness. Arthritis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and endometriosis are just a few of the diagnoses that can be found on a list of overlapping health conditions.

And IBS has no exception. Approximately half of all fibromyalgia patients have IBS. When we look at the question the other way around, approximately 30% of people who have IBS also have fibromyalgia.

Given these head count numbers, it is not surprising that there are strong similarities in the theories as to what is behind each disorder:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain hypersensitivity
  • Neurotransmitter involvement
  • Central nervous system dysfunction
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Stress

What To Do If You Have Both

Because so little is known about the causes of each disorder, there are no hard-and-fast guidelines as to what to do if you have both. Therefore, all we can do is apply a little bit of common sense.

1. Ask you doctor to test you for celiac disease. It is important that you are still eating gluten-containing foods at the time of testing in order for the test to be accurate.

2. Work to establish good sleep habits. The symptoms of both disorders appear to respond favorably to good sleep.

3. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Chronic inflammation is thought to play a role in the symptoms of both diets.

4. Engage in stress management activities. Stress may not be the cause of either IBS or fibromyalgia, but it certainly can make symptoms worse!

5. Engage in mind-body activities. Activities such as meditation, yoga and/or tai chi can help to quiet a hyper-reactive central nervous system.

Having Irritable Bowel Syndrome & FMS/ME/CFS

When you’re dealing with multiple conditions, make sure all your doctors and your pharmacist are aware of the medications, supplements, and dietary limitations you face.

The good news is that IBS treatments don’t generally conflict with FMS/ME/CFS treatments, and the focus on a healthy diet can be beneficial to your overall health.


“What Is Fibromyalgia?” NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Dated November 2014.

Rodrigo, L., et.al. “Remarkable prevalence of coeliac disease in patients with irritable bowel syndrome plus fibromyalgia in comparison with those with isolated irritable bowel syndrome: a case-finding study.” Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013 15:R201.

Tremolaterra, F., et.al. “The severity of irritable bowel syndrome or the presence of fibromyalgia influencing the perception of visceral and somatic stimuli” BMC Gastroenterology 2014 14:182.

Yang, T., et.al. “Risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Fibromyalgia Patients: A National Database Study” Medicine 2015 94:e616.

British Medical Journal. 1997 Mar 15;314(7083):779-82. “Prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms six months after bacterial gastroenteritis and risk factors for the development of the irritable bowel syndrome: postal survey of patients.”

Gut. 1992 Jun;33(6):825-30. “Effects of stressful life events on bowel symptoms: subjects with irritable bowel syndrome compared with subjects without bowel dysfunction.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association (2006) 295:960. JAMA Patient Page: Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2008 Jun;64(6):573-82. “Somatic comorbidities of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic analysis.”

By Adrienne Dellwo from verywell.com

For Discussion and Support , Join the Fibromyalgia community  Living with Fibromyalgia and CFS