I came across an interesting long-term study in Finland on Fibromyalgia spanning 26 years published in the journal of Clinical Rheumatology. The severity of symptoms persists for decades in fibromyalgia-a 26-year follow-up study. There has been this sort of rumour that fibromyalgia improves with time that I have heard several times and so this study is interesting. Also, there is this question on whether we can go into remission or not. Either way, we all want to know what FM will be like in the future. We know it isn’t progressive (That we know of according to research) but we worry it will worsen with age and comorbid conditions.

Long-term study on Fibromyalgia severity

Study set-up

It started with 56 patients in 1986 who were given a base questionnaire. 42 of these fulfilled the criteria for FM at that time.

Then 26 later 36 of the patients were located again. 28 of these filled out another questionnaire. So we are looking basically at the study of these 28 individuals. Nine of the questions on the new questionnaire were identical to the old one, including questions on the quality of life and changes in symptoms.

Outcome details of the long-term severity of Fibromyalgia study

  • Three individuals (11%) had recovered from fibromyalgia. (this is a fascinating number here. Makes you want to dig a little into the reasons for their recovery.)
  • 23% reported the remission we hear about, having had one or several symptomless periods lasting at least 1 year. This does suggest that remission is indeed possible.
  • In others (n=25), all symptoms aside from pain showed a slight deterioration. So we might see a slight slide in symptoms.
  • Despite aging and the FM, functional levels remained the same over time. This is a key one. Functionality, despite aging, remained consistent.
  • The actual amount of symptoms reported didn’t change much 10.8 (SD 2.9) vs. 11.1 (SD 4.1, p=0.75 Symptom changes can lead to a lot of problems but it looks like over time we do not change overall in them.
  • Insomnia showed the most significant increase. I wouldn’t say this is much of a surprise, since it is a difficult one to manage.
  • Exercise didn’t have a significant influence on the changes of the measured parameters. But the 3 recovered individuals did exercise on a regular basis. And they speculate since 21 of 24 (who answered the question on exercise) did exercise it might be why functionality was consistent over time. Most of the participants did exercise and this could be then a key to treatment and functionality. A study of those who do not compared to those who do long term would be interesting.

Symptoms of FM have persisted in most patients for decades without significant deterioration of self-reported functional ability. About one fourth of patients had experienced long symptomless periods during their illness. Three patients (11%) reported that they have healed from FM.  


To which we can conclude in the long-term symptoms will remain but there can be extended periods of remission. And that perhaps exercise helps us maintain our current level of functionality over time. This is a positive study for long-term outlook really. At the very least it says things remain consistent over time, not worse. However, this doesn’t take into account comorbid conditions that we can develop that would, of course, complicate our health and quality of life.

long-term study on fibromyalgia severity

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16 thoughts on “Long-term study on fibromyalgia severity

    1. I’ve had FM for 20 years and this has been my experience. My functionality with it hasn’t changed. But I did have depression and chronic migraines and other things that complicated it. So I guess our comorbids can get in the way.


      1. My got worse initially. Especially in the beginning and as new symptoms cropped up, like IBS. But then it sort of settled into a normal cycle. Flares aside of course. Baseline is usually the same. Mine is pretty moderate I’d say, not nearly as severe as some. They certainly do have to rule out other things like MS though. Not that having other conditions makes us exempt from FM though. I was born with hypermobility syndrome, which does cause some of my pain and symptoms. And the FM cropped up at a young age as well, compounding it. I do hope it isn’t MS for you though because of the severity that can come with that condition. Not always though. It runs in my family. They are very similar symptomatically, but MS can cause more mobility issues. For example if you are noticing problems with gait, that wouldn’t typically be FM. Or your vision. Visual issues for FM are rare and mostly just fatigued vision, whereas with MS it is common for initially for their to be visual concerns.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sadly walking has been an issue since the fall of 2017. Getting worse. Im trying to strengthen my legs but its hard. My vision is also going. Doubling,sensitivity, blurred. I WILL find my way threw this.


      3. I know you will cope with either diagnosis. Both are difficult, but you will definitely develop strong coping strategies as you go along. It is difficult when they are still trying to figure out what is wrong. And that waiting when you don’t know if it could be MS or not, must be hard to handle. But once you know for sure you can be well prepared to know what you need to do with your strategies going forward. So I hope they do find out one way or the other for you soon so at least you know what battle you are fighting.


      4. Have you ever heard of an all natural approach? We are looking into it. I cant STAND all of thw medication.


      5. For FM too many to count. Exercise being the main thing backed by research. But for diet so many things recommended I think any one of them would be beneficial. I read a study that said no diet, like the anti-inflammatory or Mediterranean or High protein, was better than another, but all of them were better than no diet at all for health… because they promote less processed foods, more fresh and a few other basic components. I highly recommend you read the book I talk about here: https://brainlessblogger.net/2017/01/22/review-the-whole-health-life/
        To give you some insight on some natural ways to promote health and wellness overall. It is backed by a lot of great research, but isn’t bogged down by it when you read it.


    2. All is not lost, even though you may feel “why me?” Life, love and the future can still be bright. I have had fibromyalgia for over 25-years, and am now 74 y.o. I live by myself and am still able to do all for myself. There lots of supplements out there that can be of help to you. Just stay positive and take the time to look for natural therapy supplements that may be of assistance – OK they will cost you a lot of money, but ultimately, they are the only things that will help you in the end. I have tried the medical therapies, and can honestly say that none helped one little bit.
      Best of luck, you are among friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was diagnosed in 1992 at 18 and while I had times that I was feeling better than the initial onset of symptoms, 26 years and 2 children later, I am definitely worse off than I was initially. This may be because I have a stressful job, a long commute, and energetic kids under 10. Either way, definitely not improving.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What is “functionality”? Yes, I can still do everything but that doesn’t mean everything doesn’t cause excruciating pain and extreme exhaustion. Quality of life is everything. This blurb from this one study of 28 people in one country means nothing. I am sorry to burst bubbles.


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