Can You Get Fibromyalgia From A Car Accident?

Physical or emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked to fibromyalgia, reports the Mayo Clinic. This means a car accident can trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia that appears quickly after a car accident or physical injury is also known as post-traumatic fibromyalgia. According to the Medical Wellness Association, many medical professionals accept current evidence that “indicates that 35-65% of people develop fibromyalgia symptoms after experiencing a physical trauma.”

Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. It causes muscle pain, fatigue, sleep difficulties, and painful tender points or trigger points. Fibromyalgia can affect the whole body, or affect specific areas of the body.

A study published in “American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation”, ((1994 Nov-Dec;73(6):403-12)) specifically studied persons in whom a diagnosis of post-traumatic fibromyalgia was made to determine if the symptoms of fibromyalgia developed after a trauma. A total of 60.7% noted the onset of symptoms after a motor vehicle accident. Another 12.5% noted the onset of symptoms after a work injury, 7.1% after surgery, 5.4% after a sports-related injury and 14.3% after other various traumatic events. Fifty-four percent continued to use over-the-counter pain medications, and 39% were on antidepressants two years after the onset of symptoms. In addition, eighty-five percent of the fibromyalgia patients “continued to have significant symptoms and clinical evidence of fibromyalgia.”

A more recent study published in the journal “Rheumatology” ((2002 Apr;41 (4):450-3)) looked to investigate whether physically traumatic events, such as traffic accidents, precipitated the onset of fibromyalgia syndrome. A total of one hundred and thirty-six patients with fibromyalgia syndrome and 152 controls participated in the study. Thirty-nine percent of the patients with fibromyalgia syndrome reported significant physical trauma in the 6 months before the onset of their disease, compared with only twenty-four percent of controls.

The Mayo Clinic identified the following as some of the more common signs of fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread pain. This pain has often been described as dull and constant. The ache typically lasts for at least three months. When the fibromyalgia ache is referred to as widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of the body and above and below the waist.
  • Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even though they may have been sleeping for long periods of time.
  • Disturbed sleep. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many fibromyalgia sufferers experience other sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • Cognitive difficulties. Problems with thinking and memory is a symptom referred to as “fibro fog”. It impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
  • Other problems. The frustration of dealing with the pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia also can result in depression and health-related anxiety. Many people may also experience headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.

Women, men and even children can have fibromyalgia and it can be hard to treat. A team approach is often required for treatment. The team may include a doctor, a physical therapist, and other health care providers.

Individuals can pursue compensation for pain after a car accident caused by another person’s negligence. Whether the accident was a fender bender or fatal crash, car accidents can cause mental, emotional, financial and physical stress, any of which can help trigger fibromyalgia

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.