Can Fibromyalgia Be Hereditary?

Can Fibromyalgia Be Hereditary?

Through the Fog

Did you know that siblings, children, and parents of someone with fibromyalgia are eight times more likely to get fibromyalgia than those in families that don’t exhibit the disorder? It could be the result of a genetic tendency that is passed from mother to daughter. There may also be a hormonal component, which could explain why more women than men are affected.

The genetic tendency can be triggered by a traumatic event, such as:

  • a car accident
  • an extended hospital stay
  • an injury
  • surgery
  • giving birth
  • a viral infection

A stressful event, such as:

  • a divorce
  • a death in the family
  • being in an abusive relationship

These events and situations will not necessarily result in someone getting fibromyalgia, but if you are predisposed, an event such as these can trigger it.

Although my own symptoms began many years ago, they dramatically increased after the death of my father. Although there is not a specific gene for fibromyalgia, such as the one for cystic fibrosis,  multiple genetic components can predispose a person to the disorder, given the right set of circumstances.

According to researchers, fibromyalgia is 50% genetic and 50% environmental. In my immediate family, I have two daughters who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. One daughter was 16 and one was 22, although both showed symptoms for years. I was in my mid-50s when I was diagnosed, but I’ve had worsening symptoms for years. My sister doesn’t have it, but one of her daughters does. Does it run in your family? I’m curious to know why it seems to be passed down to daughters.

According to an article on www.womens-health-advice.com:

“Four different gene variants are strongly associated with the condition. Some of the genes play a role in the nervous system’s response to pain and pressure. Others are the same genes associated with depression which is why certain anti-depression medications help to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Even if you are not depressed, you may be prescribed antidepressants as part of your fibromyalgia treatment plan. Although there are links between certain genes and fibromyalgia, a specific gene has not been identified. In other words, it’s still too soon to for genetic testing or screening to be of any use.”

I’m hopeful in the future that there will genetic testing available for FMS. I believe they are close to developing a blood test that can confirm a positive diagnosis.

Although there is an increased risk of our children getting fibromyalgia, it is not a by any means a foregone conclusion.

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. 

24 comments

  1. Marcia Harper says:

    Hi Robin I have fibromyalgia it came out when I lost my 18yr old son 3 yrs ago,my mum also has chronic pain and I’ve told her she has fibro she is now going to see her Doctor.she has had chronic pain for a very long time I told it was hereditary. We are going to get my younger sister to get checked out.x

    • Robin Dix says:

      Marcia, first of all let me say how sorry I am about your son. I can’t even fathom what that loss is like ☹️️ I’m thankful you are getting your mum and younger sister checked out. I’m here for you fellow Fibro warrior ????

      • Marcia Harper says:

        Thank you Robin it’s been a really hard road but I getting there slowly I miss him so much. I’m going to the doctors with my mum and telling him about fibromyalgia I do a lot of research into it, I like to know what I’m dealing with.I’m on morphine patches which is helping I also have ptsd so I’m on a lot of tablets that help both.

  2. Annetjie Botha says:

    I had a mysterious virus that caused severe pains, rashes, light sensitivities. Pains worse than migraine. I honestly thought i was dying, memory loss as well. It took my body about 4 months to fight it. My fibromyalgia symptoms started after that. It took 9 years to be diagnosed.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Annetjie, I was reading your comment about being diagnosed with fibro after a long illness. I often wonder if illnesses have not been what eventually triggered my fibromyalgia. My immune system is low but has been lower in the past. My sister also struggles with getting sick a lot. It is also a wonder that something in our environment isn’t a possible cumulative culprit over time. And, I have also wondered if it isn’t a kind of nerve allergy. Not sure that makes sense. I hope you are doing well 🙂

  3. Ellen Leahy says:

    I am currently 62 years old and was diagnosed in 1988, which I know was fortunately earlier than most people. But my father was actually diagnosed with it by Mayo Clinic in the late 1960’s, and they termed it muscular fibromyositis. I am fully convinced that there is a genetic link to this. The day I told my dad I was diagnosed with fibro he cried and told me “it becomes a part of you which you can’t ever get rid of”. He was never given any medication to treat the pain. He’d just like to crack open a few beers when he got home from work. Growing up, I didn’t understand why he was so crabby all the time. Now I know and I wish I could tell him I well understand what he was going through.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Hi Ellen. How sad your dad was never given any medication for the pain, I can’t imagine how rough that was. Pain can certainly make us crabby. I’m sure your dad would have understood. Sending you gentle hugs! ????

  4. Heather says:

    Hi Robin,

    I follow your blog because I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 43 and I think you are a good writer to boot 🙂 I think I’ve had fibro for many years efore being diagnosed. No one else in my family has it that I know of though, I feel that both my mother and sister exhibit similar pain issues. Neurological disorders run on my fathers side such as, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinsons.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Heather, thank you for kind comment on my writing, I truly appreciate that. ???? I think most of us have had symptoms for quite awhile before getting a diagnosis. Have your mom or sister been to see about their pain issues? Pleasure to meet you!

      • Heather says:

        Hi Robin 🙂 Seriously, I think your writing is inspiring 🙂 I need to get back into writing. I think I may even start to blog a bit about my fibromyalgia. I do think that it helps to know you’re not a lone with this disease. It also helps to turn to others who know what you’re going through. I often feel guilty for being sick so much. My husband is the only one who gets it and so I am fortunate to have him. However, when friends and family ask how I’m doing, I often lie because I feel like so much of the time I don’t feel good. Anyway! I sound depressing. I am a pretty nutty, fun loving human all that aside, lol. I appreciate your blog and request that you continue writing for people like me 🙂

  5. Angie says:

    Hi Robin! New to your blog – thanks for your advocacy! I’ve been diagnosed about 6-7 years now, I think, but have been showing symptoms since about 16 (I’m approaching 40 now). I consider myself a lucky one – it’s fairly controlled these days. My mom definitely had it but was neve diagnosed. I think her brother and his daughter do as well. Praying my son has his dad’s more robust genes!

  6. Lisa Kallas says:

    I have just stumbled across your blog, but it will be something I will return to deliberately.
    I was diagnosed 3 years ago after a nervous breakdown. I had a bad flare after my dad died last year and I am now in the throes of another. I’m on medical leave from work at present. Trialling new opioid meds this time, they are helping with my pain levels. Unfortunately my co existing CFS is what is really causing me grief at this point.
    I too write a blog, not just about my FM/CFS or my depression but about life in general. I find it extremely cathartic to be able to put my thoughts and feelings into words. Apart from it being good for me I have always said if it reaches just one person with a chronic illness or mental illness and it causes them to take action, relate or smile, then it is worth it.
    Keep up the great work that you are doing.
    Lisa

    • Robin Dix says:

      Lisa, I’m so glad you found me! My chronic fatigue is my most debilitating issue as well. Feel free to post your blog URL here or email it to me, I’d love to check it out ????

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