Rheumatology International

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 433–444 | Cite as

An insight into the gastrointestinal component of fibromyalgia: clinical manifestations and potential underlying mechanisms

  • Mahmoud Slim
  • Elena Pita Calandre
  • Fernando Rico-Villademoros
Review Article - Pathology Review


Fibromyalgia syndrome is characterized by chronic generalized pain accompanied by a broad symptomatologic spectrum. Besides chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches and cognitive dysfunction that are extensively described in the literature, a considerable proportion of patients with fibromyalgia experience gastrointestinal symptoms that are commonly overlooked in the studies that are not specifically dedicated to evaluate these manifestations. Nevertheless, various attempts were undertaken to explore the gastrointestinal dimension of fibromyalgia. Several studies have demonstrated an elevated comorbidity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) among patients with fibromyalgia. Other studies have investigated the frequency of presentation of gastrointestinal symptoms in fibromyalgia in a nonspecific approach describing several gastrointestinal complaints frequently reported by these patients such as abdominal pain, dyspepsia and bowel changes, among others. Several underlying mechanisms that require further investigation could serve as potential explanatory hypotheses for the appearance of such manifestations. These include sensitivity to dietary constituents such as gluten, lactose or FODMAPs or alterations in the brain–gut axis as a result of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or subclinical enteric infections such as giardiasis. The gastrointestinal component of fibromyalgia constitutes a relevant element of the multidisciplinary pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying fibromyalgia that need to be unveiled, as this would contribute to the adequate designation of relevant treatment alternatives corresponding to these manifestations.


Fibromyalgia Gastrointestinal symptoms Food hypersensitivity Brain–gut axis alterations 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahmoud Slim
    • 1
  • Elena Pita Calandre
    • 1
  • Fernando Rico-Villademoros
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Neurociencias “Federico Olóriz”Universidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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