Confused. Forgetful. Can’t concentrate. Mixing up your words. Experiencing short-term memory loss. Many of the 10 million people in the United States with fibromyalgia complain of these cognitive difficulties, commonly referred to as “fibro fog” or “brain fog.”
“I don’t have a percentage to give you,” says Elizabeth Lyster, MD, of the Holtorf Medical Group in Foster City, Calif., “but fibro fog is a very common complaint among patients with fibromyalgia.”
The cause of fibro fog isn’t fully understood. Many believe that it may have to do with fibromyalgia patients’ inability to sleep well. “Therefore they’re chronically fatigued,” says Corey Walker, MD, a rheumatologist at the Intermountain Health Care System in Logan, Utah. “Their minds aren’t rested.” Also, he says, fibromyalgia pain can be debilitating — it’s hard to concentrate when you’re in a lot of pain.
Another theory is that when people have fibromyalgia pain, parts of their brain do not receive enough oxygen, causing confusion or disorientation.