Published on September 22, 2015 by Dan Neuffer
Last updated on September 22, 2015 by Dan Neuffer

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Were you always destined to have fibromyalgia?  Are your children destined to follow in your footsteps?

Asking “is fibromyalgia genetic?” about an illness that is generally poorly understood may not be very useful.  However, many people have suggested that Fibromyalgia is genetic.   Given the chronic and often long-lasting nature of fibromyalgia, it’s understandable that fibro sufferers wonder if Fibromyalgia is hereditary and whether it means that their children will also suffer from this condition.

Many researchers and sufferers will quickly jump to say yes, that it is genetic.  Reason being that we see this illness run in families, with particular commonality amongst mothers and daughters and with sisters.

But is that a conclusive answer to:  Is Fibromyalgia Genetic?

With the illness being much more common amongst females than men, obviously we would expect to see more commonality amongst female members of a family.  So such observations are not necessarily conclusive.

Given that many people suffer from Fibromyalgia without any family history, one might suggest that this illness is not a genetic disease per se.

There has been some suggestion of fibromyalgia syndrome occurring in clusters with no family relations.  This would suggest that the cause is more environmental, perhaps due to some type of exposure as opposed to being genetic.

Is Fibromyalgia Genetic – The Consensus?

Generally speaking, researchers agree that fibromyalgia is not hereditary in the classical sense such as in genetic disorders where a single given gene has mutated.  Real hereditary diseases are ones like Huntington’s disease where you only need one affected parent or cystic fibrosis where you need two parents to carry the gene.

However, there is general agreement that there may be a genetic predisposition.  But before making any conclusions or being worried too much about such a link, we should really consider this in more detail.

Even if there is a genetic predisposition, environmental factors may play a much stronger part.  This is of course demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of people suffering from fibromyalgia don’t actually have family members with the same illness.

However, estimates regarding the prevalence of people suffering fibromyalgia currently vary greatly from around 2% to 7%.  But if fibromyalgia becomes more common, then clearly we will see a greater number of family member connections which will likely give more weight to the genetic link, regardless of whether this is firmly established.

Fibromyalgia Genetic Predisposition – What does it mean?

Just because a common link or increased risk factor exists, doesn’t mean it will come to fruition.  Let’s explore genetic predisposition to fibromyalgia in more detail.  So what exactly is a genetic predisposition?

Genetic predisposition means that your risk of contracting an illness is higher simply because of your genetic makeup. It does not, however, mean that you will definitely develop the illness.  In the case of Fibromyalgia, there is usually a trigger to start the illness.

Based on a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis of fibromyalgia and considering families where this illness exists, an argument can be made that whilst genetics arguably play a role in all disease, it is not likely the primary risk factor.

The real question we should be asking is what is the cause of all these symptoms and how can people experiencing this illness recover?


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