Joint Issues Apparently Common Among FM Patients

Joint Issues Apparently Common Among FM Patients

Through the Fog
I recently started observing people with fibromyalgia talking about “frozen shoulder,” and other shoulder and joint issues. I wondered if there could be a connection. As such, I asked in a few FM Facebook groups if anyone else had issues with their shoulders and joints. I received more than 75 affirmative answers in one day!

Frozen shoulder, formally called adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain that dramatically limits your range of motion. I’ve had frozen shoulder on my right side for more than a year, and now my left side is starting to be symptomatic. It’s incredibly painful and makes simple activities like reaching for something, or getting dressed, seem like an Olympic event … a very painful one. Do you also struggle with this?

Another issue many appear to struggle with is TMJ. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw with your skull. TMJ can cause difficulty with chewing, and produce headaches, jaw and facial pain. I recently had my dentist make me a mouth guard to wear at night. It keeps me from grinding my teeth, and it helps to calm my jaw pain.

Bursitis of the shoulder, elbow, and hip also are common issues for those of us with FM. The bursa is a small fluid-filled sac lined by synovial membrane. Its purpose is to provide a cushion between the muscles, tendons, and the bones around a joint. Bursitis occurs when that small sac becomes inflamed. Of course, for those of us who are older, we are more susceptible to bursitis, especially if we’ve been involved in a profession that uses repetitive movements, like a painter, for example. Our body is much less forgiving. Sometimes getting a shot of cortisone can bring temporary relief of several months or more.

It’s hard enough dealing with the pain and fatigue of FM, but adding in my shoulder issues makes it so much harder. It’s difficult because I’m a side sleeper, so no matter what side I lay on it’s painful. My husband has to help me out of my coat, and pull up my pants in the back, as it’s really painful trying to reach behind my back. He has to open and close the car doors for me. It’s just another unexpected, and  unwanted symptom of this dreadful disease.

What kind of joint issues do you struggle with? How do you find relief?

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. Denise Bault says:

    I’ve got the shoulder issues – which swimming helps as well as some isometric exercises – as well as TMJ disorder. My shoulders sound like gravel when I move them. I’m a side sleeper for the most part and it is painful! I’ve also had TMJ for at least 25 years. Have gone the route of dental splints as well as trying others. Just chewed them. One I almost swallowed, so I stopped using those. Does anyone else feel like it’s swollen behind their ears from the TMJ? I also have knots in my cheeks! All very painful.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Denise, my mouth guard is very hard, there’s no way I could chew it. Maybe getting a facial massage will help the TMJ. My shoulders sounds the same lol. I have an appt soon with an orthopedic dr to discuss my shoulder issues.

      • Denise Bault says:

        Robin, I had one made by my dentist – 20 years ago that cost me $600 at the time. I found it did nothing to help the TMJ disorder, as I was still chewing IT. The guard I almost swallowed was was a softer version that actually went on the bottom teeth and had moveable “wings” for chewing. Yes, I’ve had many facial massages…even had a therapist who got into my mouth and try to loosen the knots in my cheeks. Tried that many times. EXTREMELY painful, expensive, and did nothing to relieve the pain beyond a day. I’ve spent over $300,000 on treatments, therapies, supplements, mouth guards, doctors, medications, surgeries, CPAP machines, etc., etc. So there’s not a lot that I haven’t tried, like most fibromyalgia patients. Am happy the mouth guard is working for you but sadly it really did not help me.

        • Valerie says:

          I struggle with TMJ also, and have been using a night guard for years. Mine is fitted for my bottom teeth as opposed to the top. I find if I don’t use a night or two the pain is much worse

        • Freddie says:

          Hi I have the same problem grinding my teeth but also biting my gums soooo painfull, wake up with my inner skin in my mouth clenched by my teeth making it bleed also had the mouth guard but it makes me gag. In the morning I have mouthful of sours and jaw and headaches. My Dentist said it’s where we aren’t sleeping properly not relaxed sometimes the antidepressants I take do help me but not always. I wake up in the night when having a bad attack and I am paralysed with pain and my husband has to help me just to get out of bed I can’t roll over or move for pain in my neck head back arms legs,just stuck on back can’t move with pain frightens me as I think one day I won’t be able to move at all .

    • Gill says:

      I have a great osteopath that is really clued up on FM. I have treatment every 4 weeks which includes cranial massage and can include massage inside my mouth which is extremely painful. I have used a mouth guard as well but does not really help me. My hip joints and wrists are very painful as well along with all the usual FM pain.

      • Shannon says:

        I don’t have TMJ, but I sure do find my hips and wrists hurt like hell all too often. My wrists could be from typing all the time (carpal tunnel) and my weight could explain some of my hip pain, but I don’t spend a lot of time standing. So.. it’s gotta be FM related. Whyever the reason, they hurt way too much. Keep on fighting the good fight Fibro Warriors! Blessed be.

    • LINDA VANHORN says:

      I, also have had the frozen shoulder, and TMJ, as well as bursitis. I wondered if it was from FM. I have had FM since my late 20’s and find I also have pain in my thumbs and around joint areas. Swimming in the pool has helped me as well, and it is easier in warmer weather. Rainy, cold days are the worse. I have tried a healthy diet, supplements, and heat and cold, but find very little relief. Anti inflammatories help me in the winter months, so I will do what I need to do.

  2. Christine Hughes says:

    I too have a lot of pain and a reduced movement range in my left shoulder also in my left wrist. I can have pain in the right shoulder and wrist but that comes and goes, unlike the left side which is constant. This pain in my left shoulder & wrist started approximately 6 months ago and restricts what I can now do.

  3. Rose Moore says:

    Robin, I’ve been having shoulder issues for about a year. My right shoulder was broken in a fall at work in 2006. I broke the humeral head into 3 pieces, linear fracture right humerus and right elbow area, and displaced my right collar bone. Had a lot of black and blue all over the arm for months. But it healed without surgery. I did fine for quite a while, had almost full range of motion, even with work (was an RN). But in the last year, both shoulders now are having pain, my left > right. Hard to sleep on either, can’t raise my left arm fully above my head for things, or in certain positions of extension. Oh, and I was having right hip pain and have just been treated for trochanteric bursitis. I was always told my Fibro symptoms would lessen over time, but it hasn’t. Lovely getting old isn’t it?

  4. Tanya says:

    I have a 30+ year history TMJ pain, multiple treatments, very little relief. I am a new FM diagnosis, 6 months. Now, guess what? RA. I am 50 years old and feel miserable. Medication helps and 2 hours of pool time a week also helps. What is 60 going to bring me?

    • Robin Dix says:

      Tanya, even though you’re newly diagnosed with FM, I bet you’ve had symptoms for much longer, am I right? It’s interesting how many of us have had TMJ for a really long time, way before our FM diagnosis

      • Pat Oneill says:

        I have had problems since I was 20 giny pig for doctors 100 paracetamol tramadol gabby pregab amatriptaline you name it I suffer all over body pain headaches can’t walk 49 now feel like 99 can’t sleep no energy there is a lot of problems even get face and eye pain and numbness I only got diagnosed last year so 29 yrs not knowing tabs probly done more damage

  5. Sarah says:

    I to have shoulder pain,wrist,elbow,hip,tmj. I wear a mouth peace at night for sleep apnea,( to claustrophobic for the face mask).I have severe stiffness in my hands. I was checked for arthritis and I have none. So all I can guess is it’s all related to the FM. I am also a side sleeper,I always feel like I am wrestling with my body for comfort vs sleep. Poor hubby,he is so understanding,but still doesn’t truley understand. When I am through with my WWF match about 2:30 am and have pruned myself in the claw foot an hour later, I do not want to get back into the bed to start all over.
    I stretch my shoulder by hooking onto the door jamb and slowly walk my arm behind me and when the pain /stiffness get pretty intense I try to breath it out until it subsides then walk a little more until it won’t go any further,then I have to gently move it back,I do this as needed throughout the day,first thing after getting out of bed is the worse.
    I’m curious does anyone experience, this, I will feel really great,then do something like the other day I was pushing a leaf vac,putting leaves into area for garden,after about the third dump,I push the thing back to vac more,and every muscle in my body started burning,and I could not move,I wasn’t paralyzed,but it was as if I was stuck,for about a minute or two, the burning subsided and I was able to do a bit more work but it took everything in me to finish.
    I had a similar experience while hiking with gkids I was terrified that I would not be able to continue(12 mi trail only 6 miles in) (what should of took 2daysended up being 3),and upset that it had happened. The hike was my first time experiencing it, I fought my body the rest of the hike trying to mind over matter. I would be damned if I was going to make the 16 y/o,go for help. Anyway,was curious if anyone has this issue. Thank you robin for your column,and seeing that sadly others are having the same difficulties,has helped feel less like a hypochondriac,and make it where I am able to understand more what my traitorous body is doing.

      • Sarah Gilliland says:

        How are you doing robin? It’s to hard to give up the things I love doing. I feel the old lady clock getting louder and louder. I want to push through this FM I am in the same pain on the couch as out doing the things I missed while working and raising kids. Now that the kids are grown there is so much I want to do. I’m afraid that the “lock up” incident will happen while alone on one of my ” adventures ” is why I asked if anyone else has experienced the same thing. I told hubby if I have to crawl/hike I will.
        I hope you are well, and having a good day.

    • Gill says:

      I do not know of any FM sufferers that can do that amount of walking!!! I can manage 8,000 – 10,000 steps maybe once a week but only shorter walks the rest of the week. I do suffer the next day from doing it. I get the burn very quickly – only have to walk up my stairs and my legs are complaining. Most activities have to be done in short bursts.

      • Sarah says:

        I use 2 walking sticks. I was diagnosed 8 years ago by my PC. I thought my hormones were out of whack,so 2PC, an Rh,and a Functional Medical Dr, later,ruling out MS,RA,etc. I now am a believer. this last 18 months has been the worst,I have more than doubled the lyrica,dose,and I take a handful of pain meds everyday (for other issues)that don’t do a thing towards my FM. I have to confess after a trip to CO,last summer, I have been using cannabis and it helps,a lot. But,I see a pain dr. Who drug tests me every 6 months,so I have to stop using it,for 2 of those months which causes me to increase all meds back up. While using cannabis I have cut my opiate dose down to 1/4 the daily dose and my lyrica by 1/3. I spent half my childhood in and out of hospitals,I refuse to spend my second childhood on my sofa.
        My backpack kills me to carry it,rowing my kayak causes my arms to burn, I try and try to row through it but just can’t,so I stop let it pass,then row til it burn then stop,cry for a minute,and go on. Same with my walking,but the other day when my body,locked down,was the first time I thought about just calling it quits. I am in my 2 months off cannabis. I don’t believe the hype of this is the cure all,end all,but I do know FOR ME the good I have gotten from it. I live in a state that is toughest in nation on it,if I could access CO levels of it I think I could go completely off my opiates. I do not condone illegal use of it.
        I think it is wonderful you are able to get out and walk,I know a few who,just have given up,gained a lot of weight,and feel worse now than when first diagnosed. It makes me sad,for them,and frightened for myself,worried that how much worse is this going to get.
        My apologies for my long winded reply,no one to really talk to about this who understands,til I found you all. Gill I hope your day is full and pain free!!!

  6. Denise Bault says:

    I’m constantly reaching up on door jams with both arms and leaning into them to stretch, both upward and sideways. I do the same thing in the car, only with the opposite seat in front. Always trying to stretch my arms/shoulders out. Sometimes I think if only they had “the rack” that was used to torture people in the Middle Ages. Just put me on it and pull from both ends! 🙂

  7. Tanya says:

    Robin, I have been in so much pain so long, I can’t tell you how long. I went to Johns Hopkin’s and Cleveland Clinic but they were looking only at my back, never put it all together. Miserable!!!!

  8. Connie Alvarez says:

    Robin, thank you so much for your column.It always helps to share our experiences.with each other.U just had a cortisone shot in my right hip.It made my leg and foot tingly and when I stepped out of the van,I fell because My foot was numb.Luckily I am ok and my hip still hurts so I guess the shot was unsuccessful.I was so hoping for some pain relief! U Have had Fibromyalgia since 1984.I have learned a lot since then.Everyday is a challenge but I won’t let this terrible disease ruin my life.My belief in God keeps me going and people Luke you who take the time to help others.You are a blessing and thank you fortaking your precious time to do what You do!

  9. Pat Oneill says:

    No my doctor don’t know anything about illness she asked me to look what was available for illness on morphine now pregab a d gaba gave me shooting pain from neck down body wouldn’t wish this illness on worst enemy

  10. Michelle Drake says:

    Hi! I am 43 now and had rotator cuff surgery at 40. Ripped again the next year. Other shoulder feels similar but Dr said it was “minimal” arthritis. Ha! How do they know it’s minimal? Have had tmj and alot of jaw and ear pain for awhile. Diagnosed with fibro last year. Scared at what will happen next. My parents are 81 and we have the same symptoms. Very scary and frustrating!!

  11. Pat Oneill says:

    At my surgery there are 8 doctors and they eather send me away with script or tell me in my head lot of bone a d athritic conditions in family ms bulging disc spondalitus fibro so anoing that they haven’t ruled out other condition b4 saying fibro

  12. Sheila says:

    Yes, I have shoulder and joint issues. I’ve had several torn rotator cuffs. I’ve had 2 surgeries on the right, and the last one I had, they had to sever my bicep too, because it was badly mangled. The rotator cuff repair has torn again. My Orthopedic Surgeon said that we need to schedule surgery for a total shoulder replacement. 🙁 I asked him why, because the tears didn’t involve bone. He said that there is a new surgery that helps with such problems. The new socket goes where the ball is, and the new ball goes where the old socket is.

    Additionally, I have torn my left rotator cuff twice, and I need to have it surgically repaired again. He said there is a new surgical repair procedure that could help the left one. Ugh! I also have a torn minescus in my knee, problems with broken ankles and my fingers and toes are “double jointed.”

    Well now, that paints a lovely picture!! Ha

      • amy says:

        hi robin and all

        i have fibro secondary to mixed connective
        tissue disease an overlap disease where my
        primary is lupus with overlap of rheumatoid arthritis and sjogrens. i dont know what i did to
        get the lucky bonuses but hey here i am at 47. i was diagnosed with the mixed connective tissue disease (mctd)in 2008. i have tried loads of meds and nothing has been the magic bullet and i have continued to get worse and more and more problems.
        i take prednisone for the mctd actually ironically less than i have for a long time i say that because a good deal of the damage is done, side effects from pred go on forever. so i know i took the really long winded way to get here and it was hard because they think i have septic arthritis in my right wrist and hand in addition to the fact that the ra has already made it a claw and i only have a couple of good fingers left on my left hand so it must have been important for me to explain a little? so first i take gabapentin or neurontin brand name for the fibro i am major allergic to lyrica and cymbalta and on part of my problem. second i was having really sever e pain in my right shoulder and by the figured out what i had it was bad. its called avasclar necrosis and basically for whatever reason bloodflow doesnt get to the bonecells and the dies deteriorates and wears away, so right now i have i have no humeral head the top of my upper arm bone wore away the biceps tendons are torn dont kmow why and about less than a year later i got the same thing in the left shoulder nobody could beliveit. the left is worse the whole upper arm bone is just an outer shell with very little bone inside and the cup part of the joint has chunks missing as my dr said. so….rt one is surgical with more surgery uin the future, left one nobody may want to do it because it is ver difficult and there well only be one chance and then there would not be any bone to with so my option pain management for life or mismanagement for life if i stick current pain mgmt doc. anyway i understand shoulder pain. really important to see you rheumy asap if this happens and also even though it will hurt like hell do everything you can to keep it moving, you guys know once it the end is not going to be pretty. i also have had tmj for many many years i dont know i should fortunate or not that mosf my teeth have been eroded by illness and pred and i cant grind them anymore. maybe thats a plus i always look for think that make smile or laugh or j ust make happy everyday no matter how small. people say they are amazed im always smilin and happy when they see me and that im a trooper but i just always have been this why stop now. i had stomach surgery 10days ago. ihad the surgery friday and i went home sunday and my doc wants me to pick lottery numbers. well, everybody keep your chin up i could probably help with a question or two. thanks for staying up with me and rambling insomnia writing. its nice to share with those that are in the trenches every day and get it.

          • amy says:

            actually it was a breeze everyone was
            all worried about breathing etc. i dont even remember going under good pain management good nursing and everyone thought i was kidding i was home in two days. when my visiting nurse came she said she saww me on her schedule and thought i must have cancelled surgery to be home!! anyway the discomfort has mostly passed they only needed about a 1 1/2″ incision in addition to the laparoscopy “pinpoints” rt above my belly button and they stitch the inside and glue the outside, so the glue is flaking off as it dries out. interesting and kind of weird? i wondered on another front i finished taking forteo i reached the lifetime max and my rheumy wants me to start prolia injections. any feedback, stories, whatever info you or others might have would be greatly appreciated?
            robin thanks for your caring and such a prompt response!i think this site is going to prove to be a great find for me i hope i don’t harass y’all too much. and finally as always i apologize for the quality of my typing but it is what it is…amy

  13. Denise Bault says:

    I have had friends who have had the Prolia shots. Screwed them up. I know I wouldn’t have injected into me “something to strengthen my bones” that has a potential risk/side effect of a fractured femur! That’s just downright crazy!

  14. Andrea Brown says:

    Hi, I was diagnosed last year with fibromyalgia. I was told to lose weight by the consultant and discharged. My condition has deteriated over the year and the pain has increased and spread to other parts of my body. One dr told me it’s not an illness and just gave it a name because they don’t know what is wrong. I suffer with extreme pain in my shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, ankles and toes. I suffer with insomnia due to the pain even with painkillers. I read how much the USA and other countries research fibromyalgia and it’s frustrating that her in England it is brushed aside.

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