Fibromyalgia symptoms in men are very similar to the symptoms found in women, although women report a higher level of pain. Experts believe that this increased pain in women is due to high estrogen levels. It is typically thought of as a women’s condition, but men have it as well, although women make up approximately ninety percent of cases. And because of this significantly higher number in women, researchers know more about how it affects women.
But what’s the truth behind fibromyalgia (FM) and why is it more commonly found in women? Is it a matter of men under-reporting their signs, or because men tend to have a higher pain tolerance than women? Are genes or hormones responsible for the differences of signs in women and men? More research is needed to understand fibromyalgia in general, but many physicians do believe that men tend to downplay their symptoms, which could be a major reason why women are more commonly diagnosed.
Signs of FM Found in Men
Most studies conducted have been made up of mostly women, and most physicians have significantly more experience dealing with female FM patients. A study done in 2014 suggested that this condition often goes undiagnosed in women and even more so in men. This was a relatively small study that didn’t examine the reasons or theories behind the under-diagnosis.
The differences in symptoms that men and women experience needs more research, but some findings have suggested that the symptom’s in men are potentially very different than in women. One study has shown that there are several differences in pain symptoms.
As we have mentioned, the most obvious difference between fibromyalgia in women versus men is hormonal. Flare-ups in women are usually triggered by hormonal events such as a hysterectomy or menopause or the menstrual cycle and men obviously don’t experience these types of hormonal events.
Currently, no studies involving male hormone fluctuations have been done, so scientists do not know what role hormones play in men.However, there is some evidence that male hormones have an impact on pain levels in certain ways.
The primary male hormone, testosterone, is believed to play a beneficial role when it comes to pain. Research has shown that testosterone can help to prevent muscle pain and fatigue. Testosterone can also help to modulate certain biological processes that are related to pain and fatigue.
The brains of women and men are not identical. One major difference that can influence what this condition is like for each gender type is the serotonin levels. Serotonin is thought to play a major role in FM. Research even suggests that serotonin levels work different in women than in men. Because of the differences in serotonin levels, some physicians believe that these drug studies should be performed on women and men separately.
The symptoms associated with FM are widespread and often vary from person to person. Some people with this condition experience widespread pain, while others more commonly complain about increased and chronic fatigue.
The indications found in men are usually quite different when compared to manifestations in women. Most research shows that men often experience milder signs and also experience less morning stiffness, fatigue and tender points.
Symptoms in men also tend to last for shorter periods of time and don’t occur as often as they do in women.
Some scientists believe that genes may be responsible for FM. These genes can make a person react more strongly to things that other people would not find painful.
Overall, there is an estimated five million people in America alone that suffer from fibromyalgia. People with certain types of diseases are more likely to develop fibromyalgia. These diseases include spinal arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Treatment for Men
Treatment usually requires a team approach. A rheumatology or pain clinic can be a good place to receive treatment.
There are a number of things you can do to start feeling better, such as exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, taking all medications as prescribed and making changes at work if necessary.
Men with this condition must understand that exercising and following a healthy diet are the first steps towards minimizing signs.
It’s important to treat all signs associated with fibromyalgia and men have a tendency to under-report such manifestations as sleep apnea, fatigue and restless leg syndrome.
However, these types of symptoms can be major causes of sleep deprivation, which can lead to a number of health issues. Sexual problems such as lower libido or erectile dysfunction can also occur. Sexual problems can be caused by stress, anxiety and pain caused by fibromyalgia. In cases such as these, therapy and pain management can help to significantly lower a number of symptoms.
How to Deal with This Disorder
Fibromyalgia symptoms in men are often overlooked as the cause of chronic pain because it mimics many of the symptoms related to other conditions such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases. Which is why it’s important to accurately and entirely report any symptoms you experience to your physician for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.