How the Stigma of Fibromyalgia in Men Is Making an Impact


Many people, even those living with fibromyalgia, consider it to be a disease that only women get. That’s what one man found out when he went to a support group and discovered he was the only man there. He got the distinct impression that some of the other group members didn’t want him there. It is clear that fibromyalgia in men comes with an additional stigma.

How can a man deal with this chronic health condition when the perception is that it is a “women’s disease”? What are fibromyalgia symptoms in men, and do they differ from the symptoms that women experience? Is there any way to get help for fibromyalgia in men? Read on to learn more about the difficulties experienced by men who are coping with this chronic health condition.

Why Do Fewer Men Get Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia? 

There doesn’t seem to be a reason why 90% of fibromyalgia patients are female. While there has been some speculation, there is no certainty as to why fewer men get an official diagnosis. A few of the ideas that researchers and doctors have posited include:

  • It is a long diagnostic process

There is no test for fibromyalgia, so your physician will wisely want to rule out other conditions first. Some doctors are reluctant to provide a diagnosis of fibromyalgia without ruling out every possibility. Men may be more likely to give up during the diagnostic process and simply to decide to live with the pain without knowing the condition causing it.

  • Estrogen reduces a woman’s pain threshold

Men may be more likely to decide to live with the pain without seeking a diagnosis or medical help because they feel the pain is something they can deal with. Since female hormones decrease the pain threshold, women may be more likely to seek medical care. 

  • The stigma seems to be worse for men

Even a man who suspects he is dealing with fibromyalgia may be reluctant to want a diagnosis because he may feel that the stigma associated with something that is considered a “women’s disease” is not worth giving the pain a name.

Regardless of the reason, it is just as likely that there are many men with undiagnosed fibromyalgia as there is to be a reason that women get the condition more often.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Men

Most fibromyalgia symptoms in men are the same as the symptoms experienced by women who have this condition. The symptom we all know about is chronic, widespread pain. However, this is far from being the only symptom that fibromyalgia patients suffer from. Some of the associated conditions and symptoms include:

  • Tender points – There are 18 particular points on the body that doctors use to make a diagnosis. There are four points in the neck, four in the limbs, and the rest are in the torso. For men, pain in these tender points is much more common than generalized pain. 
  • Chronic fatigue – This is another symptom that seems to have less of an effect on men, and perhaps this has something to do with why fewer men get a fibromyalgia diagnosis. 
  • Sleep disturbances – It can be challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep due to pain or other symptoms. 
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Restless leg syndrome – This can contribute to sleep problems. 
  • Fibro fog 
  • Abnormal sensations – Fibromyalgia in men may present with numbness, tingling, or a pins and needles feeling in the hands and feet, especially first thing in the morning. 

Coping with the Stigma of Fibromyalgia in Men

Fibromyalgia can affect a man’s relationships, career, and hobbies. Imagine the strain of a new romance when you don’t always feel up to making your next date? That can definitely give the wrong impression. Or what about a married man who experiences the gentle caress of a spouse as a painful burning sensation? 

When your health condition comes with stigma, it makes work particularly tricky. Your boss may not feel like you have a real reason for taking a day off or for being less productive than usual on the days you drag yourself in.

Even your recreation time can suffer. Hobbies like golf, bowling, and team sports can become very difficult when dealing with pain and fatigue. You may not even get the same joy that you used to out of these hobbies. 

It makes it vital to have a good support system – a core group of friends and family who won’t judge you if you don’t feel up to going out to dinner and have to cancel plans at the last minute. Finding a support group can also be helpful, but you need to be sure to find one that is going to be understanding of fibromyalgia in men. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose. 

Finding Help for Fibromyalgia in Men 

You are not going to experience the stigma of having fibromyalgia as a man if you contact an upper cervical chiropractor. We are happy to provide any assistance we can. If your upper cervical spine is misaligned, correcting the subluxation can have all sorts of beneficial effects on your central nervous system, brainstem, and cerebral blood flow.

If you are living with fibromyalgia, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, why not give upper cervical chiropractic a try. You can use this website to find one of our preferred doctors in your area.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.