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Fibromyalgia In Men Vs. Women

Your arm hurts – maybe because you re-arranged furniture all weekend. You’ve had trouble sleeping – it may be due to stress at work. And now you’re having more anxiety than ever before – maybe because you’re worried about an upcoming first date. Who knows what’s causing these problems, but perhaps it’s fibromyalgia?

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (fi·bro·my·al·gi·a) is a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. People with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain than people without fibromyalgia.” 

You’re at higher risk if you have a rheumatic disease affecting your joints, muscles, and bones. These include serious conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or ankylosing spondylitis. Fibromyalgia doesn’t harm the joints or muscles. 

How Many People Have Fibromyalgia?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fibromyalgia impacts nearly four million U.S. adults or almost two percent of the adult populace. Fibromyalgia can happen anywhere in the world and is thought to affect up to six percent of the world’s population. Even though the symptoms are serious, they don’t lead to disability or shorten life expectancy. The cause is unknown, but fibromyalgia symptoms can be effectively treated and managed.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE?

The roots of fibromyalgia are mysterious. They may differ by person. Contemporary research indicates the nervous system plays a role, especially the central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord). It’s not from an autoimmune, joint, inflammation, or muscle illness. Fibromyalgia may be genetic. There are probably specific genes that can make someone more prone to getting it and the other health issues that can happen. Genetics alone, though, doesn’t trigger fibromyalgia symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • Pain and stiffness throughout your body
  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Depression and fear
  • Sleep troubles
  • Problems with focusing, memory, and concentration
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Tingling or deadness in hands and feet
  • Discomfort in your face or jaw, including ailments of the jaw known as temporomandibular joint syndrome
  • Digestive troubles, such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation, and even something more serious called irritable bowel syndrome

Many of these symptoms can be relieved with medicine or ketamine therapy.

FIBROMYALGIA IN MEN VS. WOMEN

Fibromyalgia predominantly affects mostly women. Men get it too, but they have a very different experience. Males have fewer and weaker symptoms than women, which last for shorter periods.

Fibromyalgia is known to peak in women during their reproductive timeframe, and female hormones are thought to have a role in the greater frequency and seriousness of the disorder. Many women say pain from fibromyalgia is highest just before and during their menstrual cycle. This could be due to hormone variations — estrogen plunges prior to menstruation and starts to go up again once a woman’s period has ended.

The risk of low estrogen

Besides triggering rapid mood swings and possibly depression, low estrogen levels can also harbor other problems. Women, particularly, may be at risk for:

  • Breast tenderness.
  • You may experience tiredness and sleep problems if you have low estrogen levels. There is evidence that ketamine therapy may offset low estrogen levels and lessen fatigue and sleep troubles.
  • Uneven menstrual cycles.
  • Disappearing menstrual cycles.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Hot flashes or night sweats.
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • Infertility.
  • Weak bones.
  • Painful intimate relationships.
  • Weight gain.

Fibromyalgia happens more often in women, but that doesn’t mean men are immune, according to Daniel Clauw, a rheumatologist at the University of Michigan. There’s a stigma about men who complain about being sick, especially with something as hard to diagnose as fibromyalgia – which explains why men who have symptoms wait months, if not years, before seeking treatment. 

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

A medical professional may suspect fibromyalgia due to your symptoms but should explain that you can expect tenderness to tension or tender points at a certain number of spots before making a final diagnosis. A physical examination is helpful to pinpoint tenderness and to rule out other triggers of muscle pain. Unfortunately, standard diagnostics like x-rays or blood tests can’t diagnose the condition. However, your healthcare provider may suggest tests to exclude another health problem that could be mistaken for fibromyalgia.

Ketamine therapy may reduce symptoms, but other suggestions include medicine, exercise, stress management, lifestyle changes, education classes, and psychotherapy.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Fibromyalgia may be hard to diagnose and even harder to treat, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the pain until it takes over your life. Though women get it more often than men, they’re also more likely to get treatment as needed. Regardless of gender, fibromyalgia shouldn’t be ignored.

 

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