The Mighty Logo

13 Photos That Show What Fibromyalgia Really Looks Like

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Article updated on November 1, 2019.

Fibromyalgia is typically thought of as an “invisible” illness. But what if you look closer? What’s going on behind the brave face, the body that to others appears “fine?” Often, it’s days spent on the couch, feeling too nauseated to eat, excruciating nerve pain, and pushing through it all while few people see your struggle — that’s what fibromyalgia looks like.

We asked our fibromyalgia community share a photo of what their fibromyalgia looks like, and what symptoms they were experiencing in the photo. Though others may think you “don’t look sick,” if they take a closer look, the pain, fatigue, and strength it takes to get through it all becomes clear.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “We had to leave about 10 minutes after this photo was taken because of the excruciating pain I had throughout my entire body. I was ecstatic when a part of my body would go numb so I had a little reprieve from the pain for a few minutes. My hands couldn’t grip a bottle of water, I could feel every step I took throughout my entire body. I was on sensory overload, flashing lights causing a terrible headache and the noise causing my shoulders/neck to tense up. All while having 11 medications in my system, including Tramadol. If we get to go again, I’ll have to get a wheelchair.”

man and woman at disneyland

2. “In this picture my service dog is actively tasking. She has alerted to my problems with balance, either a sign of weakness from fibro or an oncoming syncope episode, is giving pain relief to my aching feet and ankles, and is warming my feet due to a Raynaud’s flare up. Fibro has taken my independence, and now I depend on various medical equipment, medications, family/friends, and mostly my service dog to stay safe. I’d be homebound without my dog most days.”

service dog lying at woman's feet

3.Migraine, fatigue, bone-deep pain, nerve pain, brain fog, too weak to sit up or stand, cold sweats, severe abdominal cramps, severely nauseated.”

woman wearing glasses lying on pillow

4. “Fourth day of migraine, nerves are pinging, right leg and arm are numb/weak, and the pain is screaming at me from every fiber of my being. Nothing seems to relieve my symptoms, but I will continue with heat packs and kitty cuddles. Trying to tempt my body to be still. Even the dark and quiet of night is loud and obtrusive for me most nights…”

woman wearing black tank top

5. “Exhausted, surrounded by stuff because I have to rearrange my room. Not for fun, but because my neighbor likes to blare his music just loud enough that the vibrations exacerbate my pain (dorm life FTW). I got so fed up today I used all my spoons to move my bed to the furthest wall…”

woman in dorm room with things on floor and coming out of closet

6. “This is what fibromyalgia ‘looks like.’ The last few months I’ve been feeling pretty good, but these last few days I’ve been battling massive fatigue. I’m ready to go back to bed, before I even get out of bed. Last night I slept 10 hours and took two hours to get out of bed this morning. My body has been stiff and achey to where I can barely move around my house to get anything done… my elbows are also getting pressure around the funny bone, making my arms feel like they’re losing circulation.”

young woman wearing striped shirt

7. “I was at a friend’s birthday gathering a few days ago… was so fatigued that the pool table started to look like a comfortable bed. And I was overheating and had a fever. I struggled to stand… And I struggled to keep the happy ‘I’m OK’ mask on… but I didn’t want to let all my friends down so I forced myself to participate. Then towards the end of the night I started to fall asleep so my fiancé took me home in a taxi. The next day I was so exhausted and in a lot of pain.”

woman standing behind pool table

8. “Trying to figure out how to get through the fog and pain to reach the end of the day having achieved something.”

man lying on couch on pillow

9. “When I try to massage some of my horrible muscle knots, this is what happens.”

woman showing bruises on her arm

10. “Local flare-up, sore and painful.”

woman's arm with red swollen patch

11. “Nasty bruises.”

woman's leg with bruises

12. “Having to wear soft pants because rough fabrics like denim hurt my legs too much and having to use a wheelchair because the pain is too excruciating to walk.”

woman's legs wearing sweatpants in wheelchair

13. “Fibromyalgia is complete exhaustion, body and soul. It’s wanting desperately to go out and enjoy the sun but instead having to rest because if you don’t now, you won’t recover later.”

woman lying on bed covered in blanket

20 Photos That Show What Fibromyalgia Really Looks Like


Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Originally published: March 14, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home