A systematic review of precipitating physical and psychological traumatic events in the development of fibromyalgia

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2018 Aug;48(1):121-133. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2017.12.011. Epub 2018 Jan 10.


The role of physical and psychological trauma precipitating fibromyalgia is often encountered by physicians, yet a proper systematical review of this association is lacking. Literature searches identified 51 studies which examined the association of fibromyalgia with a preceding traumatic event of physical or emotional nature. The overall quality of evidence of studies included, as assessed by the GRADE criteria, was low, however the majority of studies described a significant association between prior physically traumatic events and the onset of chronic widespread pain or fibromyalgia. Elevated rates of psychological trauma in fibromyalgia patients were demonstrated across the literature and several studies indicate a mediating effect of post-traumatic stress disorder. Potential biological mechanisms for conversion of traumatic events into a chronic pain syndrome, such as fibromyalgia, are discussed.

Keywords: fibromyalgia; injury; psychological; trauma; trigger.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / etiology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Fibromyalgia / etiology*
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology