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A systematic review of the association between fibromyalgia and functional gastrointestinal disorders


Erdich, S and Hawrelak, JA and Myers, SP and Harnett, JE, A systematic review of the association between fibromyalgia and functional gastrointestinal disorders, Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 13 pp. 1-17. ISSN 1756-283X (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

The Author(s), 2020. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

DOI: doi:10.1177/1756284820977402


Background:Fibromyalgia and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are common conditions presenting in clinical settings and are more prevalent in women. While the relationship between IBS and fibromyalgia has been demonstrated, a review of the prevalence of the broader group of FGID in adults with fibromyalgia has not been undertaken. The aim of this review was to systematically review the published literature, identifying the comorbidity of FGID in people with fibromyalgia, and to discuss the clinical implications, limitations of current research and areas of interest for future research.

Methods:Medline, Embase, CINAHL and Web of Science were searched during June 2019. Results were screened for original research articles meeting established criteria for identification of FGID in adults diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Results: A total of 14 studies involving 1340 adults with fibromyalgia, 363 healthy controls and 441 adults with other pathologies were included in this review. Only 1 of the 14 studies included surveyed the full range of FGID . Functional gut disorders were matched to RomeII criteria for reporting and comparison. In addition to increased abdominal pain and functional bloating or gas, IBS of mixed-pattern and constipation-types appear to be more prevalent than diarrhoea-predominant IBS in adults with fibromyalgia.

Conclusion: This review confirms previous reports that IBS is common in people living with fibromyalgia and suggests that IBS-mixed and constipation types predominate. An association with a range of FGID other than IBS is suggested, but data are limited. Research exploring the association between fibromyalgia and functional gastrointestinal dysfunction beyond IBS are warranted.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:systematic review, fibromyalgia, microbiome, microbiota, functional gastrointestinal disorders, IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, women's health, comorbidity, diagnostic criteria, FGID
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Gastroenterology and hepatology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Prevention of human diseases and conditions
UTAS Author:Hawrelak, JA (Dr Jason Hawrelak)
ID Code:142202
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Pharmacy
Deposited On:2020-12-22
Last Modified:2021-05-27
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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