Living with Fibro

Growing Pains- the onset of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. People with the condition complain of sensitive places in their body that hurt when pressure is applied

The growing pains are believed to be the onset of a condition called the fibromyalgia. It is the most common form of episodic childhood musculoskeletal pain.

It is very important to note that doctors should be careful to the clear clinical criteria before diagnosing a child with growing pain.

However, the subject of growing pains and their possible connection to fibromyalgia needs to be studied in more depth.

According to a survey conducted by AFTER (Advocates for Fibromyalgia Funding, Treatment, Education and Research) in 2007, adults with fibromyalgia were asked to recall symptoms they had experienced in childhood.

Forty-nine (49) percent of the adults recalled growing pains as the symptoms while 47 percent recalled headaches, 39 percent recalled chronic infections, 38 percent recalled stomach aches, 33 percent recalled sleep disturbances and 24 percent recalled unusual illnesses as symptoms of fibromyalgia.

This result clearly shows that growing pains were very common symptoms of fibromyalgia, especially during early childhood.

But fibromyalgia can be very hard to spot in children or teens because it is much more common in adults.

Most of the time fibromyalgia affects women over 18 years. Even so, between 1 and 7 percent of children are thought to have fibromyalgia or similar conditions.

Fibromyalgia’s growing pains in Teens and Children: What Causes It?

The causes of fibromyalgia are not known yet. It is a condition that also tends to run in the family although no gene has been discovered yet.

Fibromyalgia has also been linked to a number of health conditions, including immune, endocrine, psychological, and biochemical problems.

Just as fibromyalgia in adults is more likely to affect women, child and teen fibromyalgia also occurs more often in girls than in boys. Most of the girls with the condition are diagnosed between ages 13 and 15.

The growing pain symptoms of Fibromyalgia

One of the main symptoms of child fibromyalgia is sore spots on the muscles. These spots hurt when pressure is exerted on them, which is why they’re called “tender points.”

In order to find these points, the doctor will press with his or her thumb on 18 different areas that tend to be painful in people with fibromyalgia.

Children and teens who have fibromyalgia will feel tenderness in at least five of these spots. They will also experience aches and pains for at least three months or so.

The soreness can start in just one part of the body, but eventually, it can affect other areas too.

Children with fibromyalgia have described the pain in many different ways, including stiffness, tightness, tenderness, burning, or aching.

Fibromyalgia in children and teen

There are also other symptoms of fibromyalgia in teen and children. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Stomach ache
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Dizziness
  • Restless legs while sleeping
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • waking up tired

What does it do to your children?

Fibromyalgia in children and teen can be very frustrating to them and it can also lead to depression.

The pain of fibromyalgia makes it difficult for them to sleep and when children can’t sleep or get enough sleep they feel more tired during the day. Being tired also makes the pain feel more severe.

For a child with Fibromyalgia, it can be so debilitating that it causes the child to miss school an average of three days each month.

This can also be socially isolating since teens with fibromyalgia can have trouble making friends and may feel like they are not popular because of their condition.

There are various tests a doctor can conduct in helping diagnose the condition in a child.

one of the tests includes FM/a which identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia.

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Ways of treating Fibromyalgia in Children and teens

There are different specialists who work together to treat fibromyalgia in children and teens.

They can be a Pediatric rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with arthritis and another rheumatologic disease, a Psychologist, and a Physical therapist.

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia there are various available treatments one can take up to manage the condition. Some of the treatments include:

Coping strategies

It is said to be one of the most effective ways to treat fibromyalgia in teens and children to manage the pain.

One can use a technique called the cognitive behavioral therapy that helps children with fibromyalgia learn what triggers their pain and how to deal with it.

It helps improve children’s ability to function and relieve their depression. One can also use other behavior-based approaches including muscle relaxation and stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing and meditation.


Medications can also be used to treat fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists may try some of the medication used to treat adults in children too.

However, the safety and effectiveness of fibromyalgia drugs aren’t as well studied in children as in adults.


Another important treatment for fibromyalgia is exercise. Studies have shown that children with fibromyalgia who are active tend to have less intense pain and less depression.

A physical therapist can teach children the best and suitable exercise for fibromyalgia.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy and massage can ease some of the muscle soreness that children with fibromyalgia experience.

For teens and children who are struggling with fibromyalgia, these treatments can bring help and hope.

Getting enough rest and exercise, eating healthy foods, and relieving stress can help control fibromyalgia so that kids with the condition can stay symptom-free over the long term.

Fibromyalgia has been formally recognized since 20 years ago and it has only been taken seriously by the global medical community in very recent years.

Even though there has not been any good long-term research conducted or available that follows children and teen with growing pain into adulthood it seems to be obvious that a lot of fibromyalgia patients have had this symptom from an early childhood.

About the author

Living with Fibro


  • fibromyalgia attacked my body after knee surgery. i fought it with a lot of pain pills and tears. i was on so many medications that it damaged my stomach lining. learning to break the cycle wasn’t easy because it was painful. it caused tiredness and depression. It tries to creep in but i fight it off after following this article. Even i found that when i help others and talk about it, it brings hope to others. Learning to stop the cycle is a battle. But this article gave me hope. Thanks

  • I had horrible growing pains as a child. I’d wake during the night with severe deep leg pains and back pain. My mom would run a nice warm bath and then massage my legs and back. That usually gave me enough relief to fall asleep. I then suffered from migraines as a teen through my 30’s.

  • I remember having growing pains in my leg muscles as a young child. My mum used to rub them with something called Radian B which was for rheumatism. But my real symptoms didn’t start till within the last 10 years, I guess as I was going through the menopause.

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