Fibromyalgia Symptoms in men

                    By Adrienne Dellwo Updated on 23rd July 2022                                  Medically Reviewed By Anita Chandrasekaran MDPH

               Edited by Fibromyalgia Support Northern Ireland

Fibromyalgia is often thought of as a "women's condition, " but mencan have it as well. Men with fibromyalgia are definitely outnumbered - women make up about 90 percent of cases.

Often Overlooked

Because of gender disparity, we know a lot more about how fibromyalgia affects women. Many studies are done with exclusively female participants and most healthcare providers have a lot more practical experience with female fibromyalgia patients.                                                                                    A lot of people, and even some healthcare providers, erroneously think that men don't get fibromyalgia. This can cause special problems for men who are living with it - both in getting a diagnosis and finding support. Societal expectations and stereotypes of men pose their own problems as well.

One study suggested that fibromyalgia is under - diagnosed in general, and even more under - diagnosed in men. It was a relatively small study and it didn't examine the reasons behind the under - diagnosis. However, now that the issue has received some attention, it's possible that we'll continue learning more about it.

Symptoms in Men

Some research is beginning to suggest that men's symptoms may be quite different than women's. This is an area that needs more research, but one study showed several differences in pain symptoms. It also showed that men tended to have:   

Lower reported pain intensity

Lower   tender - point count

Lower depression rates

Longer duration of symptoms when making the first complaint to a healthcare provider.

Higher over all disability due to symptoms                                                                    


Also, ongoing pain in men was especially linked to pressure - triggered by hyperalgesia ( amplified pain ) in the neck. Future research will need to determine why men have a different symptom profile, but some physiological differences may be involved. 

If you suspect you have fibromyalgia, bring it up to your healthcare provider, as he or she may not consider it because they're so accustomed to thinking of it as a women's illness.

If your practitioner dismissed the idea based on your gender, you may need to be persistent about it or see another medical professional.    

Psychological and Social Impact

Our society has certain expectations of men and specific, narrow ideas about what it means to be masculine. Even in a two - income household, the man is often thought of as the primary breadwinner. Men are supposed to be hard - working, tough, and oblivious to pain.

Everyone with fibromyalgia faces the misconception that they're crazy, lazy, or both. When a man has a debilitating pain condition, people may also view him as weak and think badly of him if he doesn't have a job. He may view himself this way as well. ( Women are not exempt from these issues, but men face them to a higher decree. )

Men with fibromyalgia report feeling like they've failed as a husband, father, and provider. It's a huge blow to the ego to be knocked down with what is sometimes considered as a" women's condition."   It's important to remember that illness is not a weakness. Instead, the ability to keep functioning at any level when you're sick shows tremendous strength.

Also remember that it's not a weakness to need mental health counselling to deal with these issues. It may help you to overcome mental and emotional barriers to getting better.