Symptomatology of Fibromyalgia Syndrome in Men: A Mixed-Method Pilot Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Feb 2;19(3):1724. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031724.


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is characterized by generalized chronic musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance, as well as cognitive, somatic, and other symptoms. Most people affected by FMS are women, and studies analyzing this condition in men are scarce. In this study, we discuss the physical and psychological symptoms of FMS in men, analyze the possible side effects of pharmacological therapies, and explore the impact of the illness comparing these results between the different classification groups according to sociodemographic variables (marital status, level of education, employment situation and number of people living at home). We used a sequential exploratory mixed method (MM). Qualitative information was obtained from two focus groups (n = 10). Structured questionnaires were administered to 23 men affected by FMS. The mean age of the participants was 51.7 years (SD = 9.64). The most common drugs used were antidepressants and anxiolytics (86.9%), followed by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (82.6%) and opioids (60.9%). Current level of pain was high (8.2; SD = 1.1), while perceived health and satisfaction with pharmacological treatments were low (4.6; SD = 2.6 and 3.5; SD = 3.2, respectively). The impact of FMS measured using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) was very high at 88.7 (SD = 8.2). Six categories related with symptoms and side effects of the medication were observed in the qualitative data: (1) main physical symptoms, (2) mood disorders, (3) insomnia and non-restorative sleep, (4) cognitive disturbance, (5) hypersensitivity, and (6) symptoms secondary to opioids. Pain and fatigue were the symptoms most often mentioned by the participants (70% and 80%, respectively). Other important symptoms were anxiety, depression, and memory and sleep disorders. The consumption of opioids causes further unwanted symptoms such as drowsiness and dependence, which makes it difficult for patients to perform basic everyday activities. We believe it is vitally important to continue investigating this symptomatology in order to improve diagnosis and treatment for these patients.

Keywords: fibromyalgia; men; opioid; pharmacological-therapy; symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia* / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia* / drug therapy
  • Fibromyalgia* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / psychology