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A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop fibromyalgia with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing fibromyalgia. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

There are still many questions regarding the exact cause(s) of fibromyalgia, so risk factors are still being identified. Currently, risk factors include:

Gender

Although fibromyalgia may develop in men or women, women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.

Age

People between the ages of 20-60 are at the highest risk of developing the onset of fibromyalgia, although it may occur at any age.

Genetic Factors

There is some indication that genetic factors may be involved in the development of fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that people with family members who have fibromyalgia are at a higher risk of developing it themselves.

Specific Lifestyle Factors

People who have recently experienced a traumatic physical or emotional event, such as a divorce or car accident, may be at a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia.

There is evidence that fibromyalgia and obesity may be linked. Fibromyalgia patients are more likely to be obese.

Psychiatric Illness

Many people with fibromyalgia report a history of psychiatric symptoms, but many others do not. There is no clear evidence that psychiatric illness causes fibromyalgia.

Rheumatic Diseases

You may be at higher risk of fibromyalgia if you have rheumatic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis.

References:

About fibromyalgia. National Fibromyalgia Association website. Available at: http://fmaware.org/site/PageServerded3.html?pagename=fibromyalgia. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Fibromyalgia. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Fibromyalgia. Updated February 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Fibromyalgia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated July 15, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Fibromyalgia. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Fibromyalgia/default.asp. Updated August 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Fibromyalgia FAQs. Fibromyalgia Network website. Available at: http://www.fmnetnews.com/fibro-basics/fibromyalgia-faqs. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Ursini F, et al. Fibromyalgia and obesity: the hidden link. Reumatol Int. 2011;31(11):1403-8.

Last reviewed August 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.