Does fibromyalgia cause excruciating pain in the legs and feet?


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. While the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia often involve muscle pain, many individuals with this condition also experience discomfort in their legs and feet. In this article, we will explore the relationship between fibromyalgia and pain in the lower extremities in detail.

Fibromyalgia and leg pain

Fibromyalgia can indeed cause significant pain in the legs, ranging from mild to severe. The pain may be described as aching, throbbing, or burning, and it may occur in one or both legs. Some individuals may also experience muscle cramps, stiffness, or weakness in their legs.

Possible causes of leg pain in fibromyalgia

The exact cause of leg pain in fibromyalgia is not yet fully understood. However, several factors may contribute to the development of leg pain in individuals with this condition:

  1. Central sensitization: Fibromyalgia is thought to involve abnormal processing of pain signals in the central nervous system. This may lead to heightened sensitivity to pain, including pain in the legs.
  2. Muscle abnormalities: Studies have suggested that individuals with fibromyalgia may have structural and biochemical abnormalities in their muscles. These abnormalities may contribute to the development of leg pain.
  3. Postural imbalances: Fibromyalgia can cause postural imbalances and muscle imbalances, which may put additional strain on the legs and lead to pain.
  4. Secondary conditions: Some individuals with fibromyalgia may also develop secondary conditions, such as restless leg syndrome or peripheral neuropathy, which can cause leg pain.

Pain in the feet and fibromyalgia

Similar to leg pain, fibromyalgia can also result in discomfort in the feet. Individuals with fibromyalgia often report experiencing pain, tenderness, and sensitivity in the soles of their feet, as well as other foot-related symptoms such as tingling or numbness.

Possible causes of foot pain in fibromyalgia

Foot pain in fibromyalgia can be attributed to various factors, including:

  • Trigger points: Fibromyalgia is characterized by the presence of tender points or trigger points throughout the body. Some of these trigger points are located in the feet, and their activation can cause pain and discomfort.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage or dysfunction of the nerves that transmit signals between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. It is possible for individuals with fibromyalgia to develop peripheral neuropathy, resulting in foot pain.
  • Foot abnormalities: Structural abnormalities in the feet, such as flat feet or high arches, can increase the likelihood of foot pain in individuals with fibromyalgia.
  • Altered gait: Fibromyalgia can affect coordination and balance, leading to changes in gait. These changes can put stress on the feet and contribute to foot pain.

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Management and treatment

Managing leg and foot pain in fibromyalgia requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving various treatment modalities. Some common strategies include:

  • Medications: Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants may be prescribed to help alleviate leg and foot pain in individuals with fibromyalgia.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy techniques, such as stretching exercises, massage, and hydrotherapy, can help improve muscle strength and flexibility, reducing pain in the legs and feet.
  • Orthotic devices: The use of orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts or braces, may provide support and alleviate foot pain caused by structural abnormalities.
  • Stress management: Stress can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms, including leg and foot pain. Techniques like relaxation exercises, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help manage stress and reduce pain.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can fibromyalgia cause swelling in the legs and feet?

Fibromyalgia itself does not typically cause swelling in the legs and feet. However, secondary conditions such as edema or venous insufficiency can lead to swelling in these areas.

2. Are there any specific exercises that can help alleviate leg and foot pain in fibromyalgia?

While specific exercises may vary depending on individual circumstances, low-impact activities like swimming, yoga, and tai chi can be beneficial for improving muscle strength, flexibility, and overall pain management in fibromyalgia.

3. Can wearing certain types of shoes worsen foot pain in fibromyalgia?

Yes, wearing shoes with inadequate support or improper fit can worsen foot pain in fibromyalgia. It is important to choose footwear that provides proper cushioning and arch support.

Currently, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia. However, with proper management and treatment, it is possible to alleviate and reduce the severity of leg and foot pain in individuals with this condition.

5. Can fibromyalgia affect only one leg or foot?

While fibromyalgia can affect both legs and feet, it is possible for the symptoms to be more pronounced on one side of the body. This asymmetrical presentation is not uncommon in fibromyalgia.

6. Are there any alternative therapies that can help with leg and foot pain in fibromyalgia?

Some individuals with fibromyalgia find relief from leg and foot pain through alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, or herbal supplements. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any alternative treatments.

7. How does fibromyalgia affect sleep, and can poor sleep contribute to leg and foot pain?

Fibromyalgia can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to poor sleep quality. Sleep disturbances can contribute to increased pain sensitivity, including leg and foot pain, in individuals with fibromyalgia.


Fibromyalgia can indeed cause excruciating pain in the legs and feet, with a range of possible causes including central sensitization, muscle abnormalities, postural imbalances, and secondary conditions. Effective management of leg and foot pain in fibromyalgia involves a multidisciplinary approach, including medications, physical therapy, orthotic devices, and stress management techniques. While there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, proper treatment can significantly alleviate the severity of leg and foot pain in individuals with this condition.

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