If you have fibromyalgia and get chronic headaches, you are not alone. Recurrent migraine and/or tension-type headaches are seen in 70% of fibromyalgia patients. I usually get a headache every single day. I have been getting headaches as long as I can remember. Headaches can make fibromyalgia even harder to deal with. They can make the pain more intense and increase fatigue and depression.
Types of Headaches
People with fibromyalgia tend to suffer from three different types of headaches; tension headaches, migraines and combination headaches.
- Tension Headaches – These headaches often feel like a band tightening around your head and can range from moderate to severe. Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions that occur in your head, neck, shoulders and upper back.
- Migraines – Migraine headaches are caused by constriction of the blood vessels and arteries. The blood vessels in your head and neck begin to constrict and then dilate causing severe pain, nausea, dizziness and eye pain. There are three types of migraines:
- Migraine Without Aura – This is the most common. You could have intense pain on one or both sides of your head, nausea, vomiting, and light or sound sensitivity. Migraines without aura can be accompanied by fatigue, anxiety or depression.
- Migraines With Aura – Migraines with aura cause visual disturbances along with the other migraine symptoms. You might see lights that look like stars or dots, zig-zagged lines or other distorted vision. Sometimes other senses can be affected. You could have ringing in the ears, notice a strange odor or your sense of taste or touch could seem off.
- Silent Migraine – This one is considered a medical oddity. I am including it because I sometimes get them. A silent migraine is a migraine with aura, but without the headache. I didn’t know there was such a thing until my doctor told me that’s what I was having.
- Combination Headache – A combination headache is having a tension headache and a migraine at the same time. I get these, too.
Causes of Headaches in Fibromyalgia
There are many similarities between the symptoms of fibromyalgia and migraines, in particular. It is believed that so many people with fibromyalgia have chronic headaches because the same dysfunction that causes fibromyalgia also causes migraine headaches.
- Sleep Disorders – Migraines and tension headaches may affect people with fibromyalgia because of disordered sleep that FMS causes. Studies have shown that migraine sufferers sleep patterns are disturbed.
- Low Serotonin Levels – Studies on people with migraines show low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to communicate pain signals to different parts of the brain. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to low levels of serotonin.
- Low Magnesium Levels – Magnesium is also found in low levels in both migraine sufferers and people with fibromyalgia. Studies support that these low magnesium levels may actually be a cause for migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) – A large percentage of people with fibromyalgia also suffer from another disorder referred to as TMJD. This disorder causes muscle and joint pain in the face, jaw, and neck, and often causes severe migraine headaches.
As you can see, there are many causes and symptoms that overlap between chronic headaches and fibromyalgia. If you suffer from headaches, you might want to read 12 natural ways to relieve fibromyalgia headaches or trigger point therapy for fibromyalgia headaches.