The Link Between Obesity and Fibromyalgia

The Link Between Obesity and Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog
Did you know that obesity can increase your FM pain? It puts strain and pressure on our joints, which doesn’t help when we are unable to be as physically active as we should. Carrying extra weight also can increase the severity of our other symptoms, including, but not limited to, sleeping difficulties, depression, fatigue levels, IBS, etc.

If your BMI (body mass index) is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. If your BMI is greater than 30 you’re considered obese. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the word “obese” and all that it implies. A month ago my BMI was 31. Yikes! Since that time I’ve been working on my diet, changing to a much cleaner one. As a result I’ve lost four pounds. Not bad, considering I couldn’t lose even a pound the past year or so; I only gained weight.

No excuses here, but being bed-bound so frequently and eating quick, snack-type foods has really put me in a tough spot with my weight. Sweat pants and baggie sweatshirts make up a big part of my wardrobe. Can you relate? It’s really embarrassing. It’s no wonder my energy level is horrific. Obviously there are other factors involved, but being obese most certainly is a contributing factor.

I know some of the medications we take can add to weight gain. Sometimes it feels like a catch 22. When we do too much we put ourselves into a flare, but lack of activity causes us to put on weight. This is another reason why I use functional medicine doctors. They help me to determine root causes, give me a plan to address them, and in the process help me to lose weight.

There are studies that have shown a connection between those who are obese, and those who develop FM. It’s like the metaphor that asks the question, which came first the chicken or the egg? Did we develop fibro because we’re obese, or are we obese because we have fibro? I guess it doesn’t matter really. We need to address both issues in order to feel better.

According to NCBI National Institute’s of Health: “Available evidence suggests that obesity is common in FMS. Studies report that 32%-50% of FMS patients are obese and additional 21-28% are overweight [39; 40; 61]. FMS patients show greater body mass index (BMI) relative to pain-free individuals [19]. The results from the recent internet survey with 2,569 FMS patients also show the average BMI to be in the obese range [4]. Greater BMI seems to be related to greater pain/tender sensitivity as well as poorer quality of life and reduced physical functioning in FMS [39; 40; 61]. Our preliminary data [40] have suggested that BMI is linearly related to IL-6, CRP, cortisol, and epinephrine levels in FMS. However, because these results are based upon a small number of patients, they need to be considered preliminary.”

Is this something you struggle with as well?

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Pamela says:

    Lyrica made me gain 40 pounds!!…. it Helped me but the weight gain was making everything worse. I stopped taking it and am hopeful the new formulation they are working on now will get rid of this horrible side effect. Getting a good nights sleep is important to stopping weight gain. My doctor put me on trazadone a couple weeks ago to help me sleep and try to stop my sleep eating. So far it’s working pretty well for me.

      • Pamela says:

        The only addictive medicine I take is tramadol. Currently taking 200mg a day. It’s not helping enough…… ive been trying to do research and there is just so much out there that it gets overwhelming with all the side effects etc…. I haven’t been proactive enough and the older I get I realize I can’t do that any more. I talk with my doctor about these things but he just doesn’t know enough about fibromyalgia. My rheumatologist didn’t help much so I stopped seeing him 3 years ago. I felt isolated in this up to the point that I found this forum. I didn’t give it much of a voice around my family until pretty recently too. I’m glad I finally did… I was silly to think they wouldn’t be understanding.

  2. Denise Bault says:

    I certainly wasn’t obese or overweight when I first started to develop symptoms of fibromyalgia, nor was I when I was diagnosed. I was in the best shape of my life! Taking amitriptyline put 10 pounds on me the first week I took it. Another 30 pounds were added with the prescription Cymbalta. Stopped taking both. It has taken me several years to get off 30 of those pounds! I find the hardest part is finding healthy food that is easy to prepare. Some evenings it’s popcorn for dinner! It is so difficult to prepare meals some days…so I’ll reach for whatever is quickest. That may not always be what is the healthiest. I don’t think it is unusual at all for fibromyalgia sufferers to gain weight. Many days we’re bedridden and many days we just can’t cook! It has also been shown that we crave carbs on our really bad days. I know I do!

    • Robin Dix says:

      It’s really hard isn’t it Denise. One thing I do is make a big pot of soup once a week and then divide it up into bowls with lids. I have that in the evening because that’s when I’m less likely to want to fix anything. I also have multigrain rice crackers and hummus, apple with almond butter. I tend to be a Fraser anyway. Down 5lb. Since new year’s.

  3. Jenna says:

    I was put on Lyrica and 9 months later, my father brought my weight gain to my attention. The entire time I was on Lyrica, I felt like a zombie and because I wear big t-shirts to be comfortable, I had no idea that I was getting bigger. In that 9 months, I had gained 90 pounds! I went off it immediately and hoped that the weight would drop off after a while. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and to make matters worse, I continued to gain weight. For the ten years before Lyrica, I stayed the same size. I lost my muscles from being bedridden but I could always fit into my clothes. It’s been almost nine years since I gained the weight and haven’t been able to lose any of it. It’s made my life worse in a myriad of ways, not only am I embarrassed by how I look but I don’t have money to buy new clothes. The pain is worse, it’s hard to move and all my other problems are exaggerated.

    My parents have passed, I lost my friends when I first became ill and my fiance was killed at the time I started taking Lyrica. Suffice to say, it’s hard being completely alone when you’re this sick and the weight makes it impossible to meet new people.

  4. Annoyed says:

    I can say that I got fibro when I was 125 lbs. That’s not obese. I also have the same pains now aft6er gaining 100 LBS FROM MEDS AND BED REST. Exercise does not help me. if I exercise even mildly, im done. This is 10 years into fibro. I’m a veteran now and a lot of these things that we are told, are not true when you ask a person with fibro. I have pain whether im skinny or “obese”. everything cant always be blamed on weight. Of course you get worse pains as the fibro gets worse….guess what your going to gain weight due to the initial pain so why blame any of it on weight. Just tired of the same thing all the time. Exercise, eat less, loose weight. how about heres a cure….how about that

  5. TheFinalCountdown says:

    I have put on about 80 pounds in the past couple years due to Fibro and the medications (Lyrica, Cymbalta, Endep). My father passed away in his early 40’s from a heart attack and I am very afraid that I am well and truly on my way to the same fate. Exercise is nearly impossible, I can’t be bed ridden for a day or two because I spent 15 minutes doing very light exercise. Doctors are all but useless when it comes to treatment for the pain if you’re not getting benefit from the big 3 Fibro drugs. The WHO has put out several papers on the misinformation being taught to doctors in regards to pain treatment and after years of dealing with half a dozen or more doctors it really shows when you hear the same falsehoods parroted back over and over. At this point they are actively contributing to my demise and the way they shut down any possible new treatments over and over has just left me distraught and jaded.

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