What is the Link Between Fibromyalgia and Bladder Problems?

What is the Link Between Fibromyalgia and Bladder Problems?

  • On May 18, 2018
  • causes of incontinence, diseases, fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is one of the misunderstood and poorly diagnosed conditions. Characterised by chronic widespread pain, the condition can have a huge impact on an individual’s life.

The condition is often associated with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Health Central asserts that 50% of people with Fibromyalgia have difficulty with doing everyday activities. Common symptoms of Fibromyalgia include constant tiredness and widespread pain. It is also known to cause insomnia and a high sensitivity to light and noise. Countlessly, however, it is common for people to be told they are struggling with mild aches or are deficient in vitamins. Jeffrey Siegel, M.D, team leader in FDA’s Division of Anesthesia ASS, asserts, “One of the challenges is that fibromyalgia hasn’t always been recognized as a specific illness”.

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Stress anxiety Fibromyalgia

The large variety of risk factors for Fibromyalgia arguably makes it harder to diagnose. Both men and women can be affected by Fibromyalgia, yet it is known to affect around 7 times as many women as men. It can also occur in people of all ages, however, most commonly develops in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Studies have shown that people who have a family member with Fibromyalgia are more likely to develop Fibromyalgia. It is also known to occur in individuals with other rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus and ankylosing spondylitis. A painful condition such as arthritis or an infection raises your chances of developing fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that physical or emotional trauma can also heighten a person’s risk of Fibromyalgia. One side effect that can shock someone diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is bladder problems and urinary incontinence.

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How Fibromyalgia Can Cause Urinary Incontinence

As Fibromyalgia causes severe muscle pain, this symptom can cause individuals to feel as if they have to urinate or experience frequent urination. In many cases, people with Fibromyalgia report chronic pain in their pelvis. This is also often known as painful bladder syndrome. In a research study called “pelvic floor and urinary distress in women with Fibromyalgia”, women with Fibromyalgia were found to report significantly bothersome pelvic floor and urinary symptoms. Results showed that the worse the impact of fibromyalgia was, the worse bladder and bowel symptoms were. This can be explained that the fact that the muscles that play a part in the pain people feel from the condition are the same ones that can make the body suffer from an overactive bladder.

Many researchers have shown that the explanation for bladder problems caused by Fibromyalgia may also be neurological. Neurological conditions affect the body’s nervous system, which plays a vital role in regulating the storage of urine in the bladder. Our nervous system also plays a part in controlling when we urinate. A large proportion of people with Fibromyalgia have chronic pain due to factors such as trauma, infections and injuries. Specialists assert that this chronic pain sensitizes the central nervous system to pain stimuli, causing Fibromyalgia. Urge incontinence is the most common type of incontinence that people with Fibromyalgia struggle with. Interestingly, a common cause of urge incontinence is nerve damage, which increases the likelihood of this link. Individuals with incontinence often have urges to urinate at night time, which is also known as Nocturnal Enuresis. Stress incontinence is the second most common type of incontinence caused by Fibromyalgia, which is leakage that occurs when pressure is put on the bladder.

Causes of incontinence in people with Fibromyalgia can also be due to other health complications. A large proportion of women with fibromyalgia report to have chronic urinary tract infections, which is an independent cause of incontinence. Surprisingly, some medications taken for Fibromyalgia can even worsen symptoms of incontinence.

Have you noticed leakages due to Fibromyalgia? Read our blogs to find out which type of urinary incontinence you may have:


Urge Incontinence: A sudden and strong need to urinate, where the bladder may feel fuller than it actually is.

Stress Incontinence: The loss of urine when pressure is placed on the bladder.

Overflow Incontinence: The involuntary release of urine from an overfull bladder. Leaks often occur without any urge to urinate.


Getting valuable support and talking to a Doctor are vital steps in managing Fibromyalgia. Matallana, a sufferer of incontinence and Fibromyalgia, states “my husband always believed me, and when you have that kind of support it makes a huge difference. Dealing with both the mental impact and not only the physical side is very important”.

Fibromyalgia and Interstitial Cystitis

People affected by fibromyalgia are more prone to a painful bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. The most recognisable symptom of this is intense pelvic pain, felt below the bellybutton. This severe pain often becomes worse during periods or after specific foods and drinks. It can also cause a constant urge to urinate, alongside more frequent urination. Interstitial cystitis can also be accompanied alongside other conditions, such as constipation or IBS. This often requires a need to avoid certain bladder irritants, such as caffeinated beverages, artificial sweeteners and spicy foods.

The diagnosis of interstitial cystitis can be a long and unclear process, as the symptoms are similar to those of a bladder infection. 50 year old Erica recently wrote to the Sun Newspaper to report how long it had taken to receive a diagnosis. She states, “It wasn’t until the autumn of 2006, more than two decades after my bladder problems started, that I was finally diagnosed with interstitial cystitis”.