Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease mostly suffered by women. However, researches have shown that at least 5 million adults are suffering from this condition only in the U.S. Some of the most representative symptoms of the condition are chronic pain and fatigue. Lack of strength in general can lead to feeling tired most of the time, especially after working for a long period of time.
From all people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, only a small amount of 10% are men, which is the main reason this chronic disease is regarded as a problem only women present.
Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia is a tough experience, meaning that people should change most of their habits in order to avoid chronic pain and fatigue. For men it can be especially difficult. Even finding support is a difficult task for men suffering from this condition. Most groups supporting people with fibromyalgia are led by women, and sometimes they don’t believe a man can be suffering from the exact same symptoms due to the very same condition.
People sometimes think that men claiming to be suffering from fibromyalgia have some kind of psychological tendency instead of a true medical condition. It’s also unfortunate that some people claim that these men are trying to get economical aid by claiming disability.
All the aforementioned problems have led men to try hiding when they suffer from this condition. Nevertheless, it’s very difficult to hide the pain and fatigue felt by people with fibromyalgia. Having to remain in silence while feeling strong pain can cause emotional imbalance. Men with fibromyalgia are not able to do activities that have been mistakenly stigmatized as “only for men” activities. Carrying heavy stuff, practicing sports and working non-stop for a long time are some of these said activities.
Possible causes behind the condition
The causes behind fibromyalgia are still unknown, as well as the reason why only a few men suffer from it. Some of the most popular theories say there are some types of viral infections, injuries and traumas as results of a car accident and emotional distress that can help develop the condition. However, as causes remain unveiled, fibromyalgia can show up suddenly with no apparent reason.
Nevertheless, there are some biologic marks that people with this condition have in common. According to some physicians, fibromyalgia is severely characterized by an imbalance of chemical substances in the brain, for this reason is usually categorized as a neurochemical disease. People suffering from fibromyalgia often have a lower average of P Substance which is a neurotransmitter that helps the nervous system receive signals denoting pain. They also present a lower level of serotonin when compated to the average. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which inhibits pain.
The fact that fibromyalgia is way more common in women than in men has led researchers to think it may be more of a genetic disease. Some genes and hormones can make people more pain sensitive. Estrogen also reduces pain threshold and may be the reason women have a higher chance of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Testing men for fibromyalgia
Chronic pain is usually the fundamental symptom behind fibromyalgia but there are some additional symptoms such as headaches, insomnia and irritable colon. Some people also display cognitive problems regarding their memory and finding difficult to focus on a task.
The method for testing people suspected to suffer from fibromyalgia is pretty much the same for women and men. Said test consists in applying pressure to the 18 specific spots of the body called “sensitive spots”. Said sensitive spots are very responsive even to the slightest contact. If at least 11 of these spots produce a significant pain, the diagnosis should take fibromyalgia as a possible prospect. Most men do not feel anything in most spots because their pain threshold is wider.
Nevertheless, another factor playing an important part regarding men getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia is their lack of interest in going to the doctor. It’s quite an impressive fact that only a 20% of men suffering from fibromyalgia have actually been diagnosed.
Support for men with fibromyalgia
It is important for men to set aside any kind of prejudice and look for support when they are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Even though the accepting process can be very hard, it’s actually the best way to face the problem.
Regarding economical support, in case the person suffering from this condition works outside their home, there is a fetal law called Family and Medical Leave Act. which provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave each year without losing their job. All this is possible while maintaining their health benefits.
It is expected that with the passing of time inclusiveness to men suffering from fibromyalgia will increase. As of now, there are many programs looking forward to supporting men with this condition. These are some of the most popular ones:
Men with Fibromyalgia is a website dedicated entirely to the task of assisting and helping men with this condition. It was founded by Norman, a man who suffers from fibromyalgia. The main purpose of the website is to spread awareness about chronic diseases that are not usually spoken of.
Fibromyalgia Support for Men is a Facebook page created in order to serve as a space for men, who are usually family providers and protectors of a household, looking for support when going through a difficult situation as suffering from fibromyalgia is.
This space is open to any man who wants to share their own experience with the condition, any question regarding medication and treatment or just looking for encouragement to keep struggling with their condition. Community will share their own experiences as well as advice and supportive counseling in order to avoid depression and anxiety.
The amount of men suffering from fibromyalgia is not big, reading articles written by other people suffering from the same condition can be helpful, allowing readers to know they are not alone and there are others going through the same process and looking for support as well.
On this website there is valuable information about other people who have suffered from the same condition. Looking for technical information about fibromyalgia is also very useful, knowing how the condition works, how it affects the body and what kind of treatment can be used. People with this condition does not surrender, living with determination and knowing that one day there will be a cure for fibromyalgia, lupus and other chronic conditions.