Fibromyalgia's key symptoms in normal-weight, overweight, and obese female patients

Pain Manag Nurs. 2013 Dec;14(4):268-276. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2011.06.002. Epub 2011 Oct 29.


Factors affecting the symptomatology of fibromyalgia (FM) are not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to analyze the relationship of weight status with pain, fatigue, and stiffness in Spanish female FM patients, with special focus on the differences between overweight and obese patients. The sample comprised 177 Spanish women with FM (51.3 ± 7.3 years old). We assessed tenderness (using pressure algometry), pain and vitality using the General Health Short-Form Survey (SF36), and pain, fatigue, morning tiredness, and stiffness using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ). The international criteria for body mass index was used to classify the patients as normal weight, overweight, or obese. Thirty-two percent were normal-weight, 35% overweight, and 32% obese. Both overweight and obese patients had higher levels of pain than normal-weight patients, as assessed by FIQ and SF36 questionnaires and tender point count (p < .01). The same pattern was observed for algometer score, yet the differences were not significant. Both overweight and obese patients had higher levels of fatigue, and morning tiredness, and stiffness (p < .05) and less vitality than normal-weight patients. No significant differences were observed in any of the variables studied between overweight and obese patients. In conclusion, FM symptomatology in obese patients did not differ from overweight patients, whereas normal-weight patients significantly differed from overweight and obese patients in the studied symptoms. These findings suggest that keeping a healthy (normal) weight is not only associated with decreased risk for developing FM but might also be a relevant and useful way of improving FM symptomatology in women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Fatigue / complications
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / complications*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Pain / complications*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires