Does Fibromyalgia Get Worse?

Or is there Hope for Improvement?

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Question: My fibromyalgia symptoms seem to be getting worse every year. I'm really worried that I will continue to go downhill and lose what abilities and quality of life I have left. Is fibromyalgia a progressive disease? Does it always get worse?

Answer: Fibromyalgia is not generally considered a progressive disorder, but in some cases it does get worse. It's not, however, a condition with a predictable course.

In most people, fibromyalgia symptoms go through flares (when symptoms are severe) and remissions (when symptoms are minimal or absent). Some people find successful treatments that dramatically reduce the severity of their flares as well as making flares fewer and farther between.

Some people get to a point where they consider themselves "cured" or say their fibromyalgia is "reversed." My personal preference is to call this a long-term remission. That's because a lot of people who get to a symptom-free or nearly symptom-free place have symptoms return at some point.

In my case, I've been in remission for several years, but I have some symptoms that have lingered, waxing and waning over time. Fortunately, they're not nearly as severe as they used to be.

However, some of us aren't able to find treatments that work well, or treatments may stop being effective down the road. In those cases, symptoms may remain about the same long-term or they may get worse.

Some experts say that about a third of us make significant improvements, another third stay the same, and the remaining third see significant increases in their symptoms.

I know that's not a very good answer, but it's the only one we have until researchers figure out better treatments as well as the underlying cause(s) of our illness.

The best we can do is experiment with treatments until we find a successful regimenĀ and then stick to it.