What is Fibro Fog? - Fibromyalgia and Cognitive Dysfunction

Fibromyalgia is typically characterized by widespread pain and is present in around 0.5-10% of worldwide population with a seven times higher presence among females than males.

Apart from pain there are symptoms of fatigue, sleep disorders, stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, memory or concentration problems etc.

Fibromyalgia and cognitive dysfunction

Studies have shown that over 50% of patients with fibromyalgia suffer from mental confusion and decline of memory and mental faculties.

Mental confusion along with difficulty in concentration and loss of memory is often termed “fibro fog”. These features are termed cognitive dysfunction and include common manifestations such as:-

  • forgetfulness and memory problems - tests reveal that the memory components affected include impaired working memory, episodic memory and semantic memory -they have a poorer free recall
  • concentration difficulties and attention problems
  • poorer verbal fluency and verbal knowledge
  • difficulty in focussing
  • impaired judgement
  • impaired ability to perform simple cognitive tasks
  • slowed or altered speech and other speech problems

Fibromyalgia research

There are studies that have compared the cognitive skills and abilities of fibromyalgia patients with healthy controls of similar age and educational status.

Results showed that fibromyalgia patients performed worse than their healthy counterparts but had intact speed of information processing.

When the fibromyalgia patients were compared to healthy adults 20 years older, it was noted that although the fibromyalgia patients had intact information processing, they had poorer verbal knowledge than older adults.

Assessing cognitive skills

Cognitive skills and memory functions should be routinely assessed while evaluating a case of fibromyalgia according to all leading recommendations and guidelines for diagnosis and management of fibromyalgia.

Cognitive dysfunction may occur uniformly among all fibromyalgia patients irrespective of their age, pain severity or the presence of anxiety or depressive symptoms.

Patients with cognitive impairment also commonly have symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Further pain severity is an indicator or predictor of level of cognitive impairment. Measures of depression, anxiety and other factors do not influence the level of cognitive decline.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, January 23). What is Fibro Fog? - Fibromyalgia and Cognitive Dysfunction. News-Medical. Retrieved on February 22, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Fibro-Fog-Fibromyalgia-and-Cognitive-Dysfunction.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "What is Fibro Fog? - Fibromyalgia and Cognitive Dysfunction". News-Medical. 22 February 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Fibro-Fog-Fibromyalgia-and-Cognitive-Dysfunction.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "What is Fibro Fog? - Fibromyalgia and Cognitive Dysfunction". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Fibro-Fog-Fibromyalgia-and-Cognitive-Dysfunction.aspx. (accessed February 22, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. What is Fibro Fog? - Fibromyalgia and Cognitive Dysfunction. News-Medical, viewed 22 February 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Fibro-Fog-Fibromyalgia-and-Cognitive-Dysfunction.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Feasting for immunity: Study highlights foods that bolster your body's defenses