Part 1 – Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia In Children

It’s bad enough as adults to be burdened with an illness like Fibromyalgia but it is even more of a shame when a child has it.   We don’t hear a lot about Fibromyalgia in children or the risk factors for our kids.  I worry all of the time that Logan will end up developing CFS or Fibromyalgia.  I notice that anytime he complains of something hurting, I start to panic a little inside.  I pray to God everyday asking for him to spare Logan from these life sucking illnesses. 

Dr. Mark J. Pellegrino writes articles frequently for ProHealth and I was happy to find a recent article from him on Fibromyalgia In Children and Teens – Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment

Dr. Pellegrino states in his article that the youngest patient he has seen with Fibromyalgia is 3-year-old boy.  He sees many Fibromyalgia teenagers who also have a parent with the illness. 

Risk Factors:

A child who has a parent or sibling with FM or connective tissue disease is at risk.  If this child at risk is involved in a competitive sport that stresses the muscles tennis, dancing, gymnastics risk is increased. Children can get post-traumatic fibromyalgia, especially those who have a hereditary vulnerability. A number of young female patients in my practice have been involved with dancing, gymnastics or baton twirling for many years. Hours of practice and competition have been involved. Symptoms of pain appear, and ultimately fibromyalgia develops.

Dr. Pellegrino says other risk factors in children include the presence of scoliosis. 

Postural changes cause more strain on the back muscles which over time can lead to traumatic changes that trigger fibromyalgia.  Girls are more likely to have scoliosis than boys (genetic risk). I see many youngsters who have intermittent back strains related to postural changes, and some have gone on to develop “full blown” fibromyalgia. There is no way to predict who will develop clinical fibromyalgia in those who are at risk, especially in those who are completely symptom-free.

Because girls still outnumber boys, Dr. P. says a survey in his practice has revealed that Fibromyalgia in children under 18 are 60% girls and 40% boys.  He backs up that these findings are consistent with research done by Dr. D Buskila.

Causes of FM in Children:

The causes and triggers of Fibromyalgia in children is similar to adults.  Causes/triggers include genetics, major trauma or cumulative type trauma from certain sports, infections (mono) or other viral infections. 

Common Initial Symptoms:

In children there may be generalized widespread pain, but usually there are some common initial symptoms that may be part of the “prodromal” (preceding) state that can ultimately turn into fibromyalgia.

  • Leg pains – a form of RLS in children that is worse at night.  May be dismissed as growing pains.
  • Fatigue – periods of extreme fatigue where the child may not want to do anything.
  • Sleep problems – trouble with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. 
  • Headaches – frequent migraines/tension headaches w/ neck and shoulder pain, allergies, dry eyes.
  • Abdominal pain – frequent stomach pain/aches.  Early IBS.
  • Cognitive difficulties – attention and concentration difficulties, difficulty with focusing on a topic, vision complaints.

Part 2 will include FM aggravating factors, tender points and treating children with FM.

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  1. Thank you for this, I didn’t even know children could get fibromyalgia, but my doctor mentioned it as a possibility in my daughter. Thank you for this info!

  2. Paint Zoom Review says:

    @Kitten Advice– my son was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and he is only eight. It is difficult since most doctors do not know much about the problem. I had to bring him to numerous specialists before I finally got a diagnosis that made sense!

  3. Natasha says:

    Interesting I have had a few clients lately with this disorder….I am an ex gymnast with scoleosis…..what is the test for this?7

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