What Are The Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia In Males?

Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain disorder, which affects 2% of the US population and is seven times more prevalent in women than in men. Fibromyalgia is one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.1 2 The word fibromyalgia means ‘pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons’. But it is much more than just pain and manifests as many other symptoms that vary from person to person.

Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and tenderness to touch that may occur all over the body or migrate to various parts of the body. Along with other symptoms, pain and tenderness increase and decrease over time. Fibromyalgia affects people physically, mentally and socially.3 Widespread musculoskeletal pain is the dominant feature of fibromyalgia. Pain is usually reported in proximal regions such as the neck, shoulders, hips, and thighs, but pain may also be felt in the hands and feet.4


Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia In Men

Fatigue is present in the majority of patients. Poor or disturbed sleep, with frequent night-time awakenings and difficulty falling back to sleep, is frequently reported. Feeling of exhaustion upon awakening may be severe, and morning stiffness is common.5 Symptoms of fibromyalgia in men also tend to last for shorter duration and occur less frequently than those appearing in female patients. However, a recent study shows that male symptoms may actually be more severe than those experienced by women.6

1. Pain

The pain experienced by men due to fibromyalgia is profound, chronic and widespread. It can migrate to various parts of the body and differ in intensity. Fibromyalgia is known to cause shooting pain, with deep muscular aching, throbbing, and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling, and burning accompany the pain, adding to the discomfort. Many people report that the severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Some factors that can aggravate the pain are:

  • Cold or humid weather
  • Non-restorative sleep
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Anxiety and stress

2. Fatigue

Fatigue affects all of us because of the stressful lives we lead. But, the fatigue caused by fibromyalgia is much more intense and often unbearable. The fatigue of fibromyalgia is an all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with occupational, personal, social or educational activities. Other fatigue-related symptoms include profound exhaustion and poor stamina that can render a person physically unfit.

3. Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are also often associated with fibromyalgia. It prevents the person from getting deep, restful, restorative sleep. Medical researchers have documented specific and distinctive abnormalities in Stage 4 deep sleep of fibromyalgia patients. During sleep, individuals with fibromyalgia are constantly awakened by sudden bouts of brain activity, thus limiting the quantity and quality of their sleep.


4. Fibrofog

Fibrofog is another symptom seen in men with fibromyalgia. Fibrofog causes cognitive or memory impairment, difficulties using language, and problems with learning. These symptoms tend to descend in a haze or “fog,” around the person. Fibrofogs may occur at any time with varying intensity and tend to be at their most severe during flare ups in pain. Several factors may contribute to cognitive problems in patients with fibromyalgia. These factors include co-morbid depression, sleep problems, neuroendocrine abnormalities, pain, and central augmentation of sensory input.7

5. Skin Problems

Individuals with fibromyalgia also experience skin problems. Between 70% and 80% of people with fibromyalgia suffer from skin problems associated with their illness. Skin problems include dry skin, itchy skin, and mottled skin. These skin conditions not only cause extreme discomfort but also makes it hard to wear certain clothes and eat certain foods.8


6. Morning Stiffness

Morning stiffness can be described as a tightness in the muscles and joints all over the body. It occurs in the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body. This muscle joint stiffness typically lasts for 30 minutes, though it can extend for hours. Although it is common in the morning, it can continue into the afternoon and evening. This stiffness can impede movement and range of motion besides causing aches and pains throughout the body. Most people with fibromyalgia experience morning stiffness at some point during their illness. At least 70% of people with fibromyalgia deal with morning stiffness regularly.9

Other Symptoms And Overlapping Conditions

Stress is considered as a common factor that often increases symptoms of fibromyalgia. Other symptoms that may occur in men who suffer from fibromyalgia include:

  • Irritable bowel and bladder
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Restless legs syndrome (periodic limb movement disorder)
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Skin sensitivities and rashes
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Vision problems
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Impaired coordination
  • TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorder)