We often think of fibromyalgia (fibro) as a woman’s condition. For a long time, the medical community believed the aches and pains that women reported were psychosomatic. Women were essentially told that their pain and discomfort was “in their heads.” Men often have aches and pains, but it isn’t considered manly or macho to complain. The pain that men experience is often attributed to muscle tiredness from the job. Men may have chronic aches and pains, but they don’t often go to the doctor until the pain is fairly severe.
Fibromyalgia comes from the Greek root words “fibro” meaning fibrous, “myo” meaning muscles, and “algo” meaning pain. Thus, the medical term refers to the pain and discomfort associated with the muscles, tendons and connective tissues of the body. The pain may feel like a burning sensation, aching or throbbing. The pain may affect the face, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, back, hips and extremities.
Symptomatically, the pain of fibromyalgia is generally the same in men and women; however, with men the pain may not be as intense as it is with women. Fibro is most common in people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, but it can affect men and women for their entire lifetime. Sleeping often is a problem for men and women suffering from fibromyalgia due to the pain associated with the condition. When they fall asleep, it is often difficult to stay asleep. Fatigue is usually a constant companion of people suffering from fibro. Noise may also be a problem.
My daughter has fibromyalgia; she cannot stand to have the television or radio playing at a normal level. I tell her that I can’t watch TV with her because I can’t read lips. The normal volume on the TV causes a severe headache. She also becomes irritated with a lot of noise.
The doctor will diagnose fibro by eliminating the presence of other diseases or conditions that may have the same or similar symptoms. There are certain pressure points on the body the doctor will press on. When these pressure points are stimulated, the pain becomes more intense.
There is no specific treatment or regimen to treat fibro; treatment will vary from one physician to another. There are fairly new medications on the market to treat the pain and discomfort associated with fibro, but all doctors are not in agreement that they should be used. Some doctors prescribe an antidepressant such as Elavil to treat the pain, and it is effective for some people.
More men might be diagnosed with fibromyalgia if they came forward to report their symptoms, but due to the male stereotype, men don’t usually report pain unless they can no longer deal with it. Men are considered the stronger sex and they often don’t want to admit to their frailties. Men need not suffer in silence to chronic pain of the muscles and tendons of their bodies. Pain is not something you have to suffer through. If you can relate to the symptoms mentioned in this article, see your doctor as soon as possible.