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The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but there seems to general agreement that stress is a significant precipitating factor in its development. It has been commonly referred to as a “stress-related disorder” because stress both precedes its onset and aggravates its symptoms.

Some theories suggest that fibromyalgia may result from stress-induced changes in the hippocampal area of the brain; others from stress-induced disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (which affects adrenal function and cortisol production); and still others from low levels of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, caused by genetic factors and triggered by exposure to stressors, such as emotional distress, physical trauma, viral infections or inflammatory disorders. Another theory proposes that stress can affect the hypothalamus in a way that reduces sleep and the production of human growth hormone (HGH). People with fibromyalgia tend to produce inadequate levels of HGH. Cortisol, dopamine and HGH can all affect pain perception.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by lasting widespread pain and tenderness in muscles and connective tissue. It is usually accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbances and joint stiffness, and may be primary or secondary to another underlying condition. It may also include various functional problems, such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, tingling of the skin, muscle spasms, bowel disturbances, sensitivity to light, anxiety, and brain fog.

Some of these symptoms sound similar to adrenal fatigue, and people with fibromyalgia are likely to also be experiencing some degree of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal fatigue may either have preceded the fibromyalgia as a consequence of the precipitating stress, or develop as a result of the stress the fibromyalgia has caused. The tip-off that there could be a low adrenal function component involved in fibromyalgia is decreased stamina and pronounced morning fatigue.

When these are present, adrenal fatigue is likely contributing to the symptom picture, no matter the cause of the illness. Providing adequate support for healthy adrenal function during stress can be an important contributing factor in maintaining the vitality to avoid the stress-induced precipitation of fibromyalgia, and in facilitating full recovery from fibromyalgia.