The Mighty Logo

18 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia That Were Dismissed as 'No Big Deal'

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Having pain and symptoms brushed aside is unfortunately an all-too-common experience among those with fibromyalgia. Perhaps your doctor wasn’t educated on fibro and didn’t realize how your symptoms were connected, or assumed these issues were due to a minor and temporary health problem. Or maybe your parents and loved ones didn’t understand just how much your pain and symptoms were affecting you, and were trying to offer comfort or reassurance.

Whatever the reason your symptoms were brushed off, the result is that you may have questioned whether it was “all in your head,” experienced severe, persistent symptoms with unhelpful or no treatment, or felt alone and unsupported in your health journey. We wanted to raise awareness of this all-too-common experience fibro warriors have, so we asked our Mighty community to share a symptom they had that was dismissed as “no big deal” but actually turned out to be a sign of their fibromyalgia.

Of course, every person’s health issues are unique to them, and even those with the same condition may have various manifestations, so be sure to check with a medical professional and do your own research. But hopefully the following experiences can help you feel a little less alone in your health journey, and serve as a reminder that your symptoms and concerns should always be taken seriously.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. Burning pains, being sensitive to side effects of medications, fatigue. Then again, most doctors shrug off all fibromyalgia symptoms as no big deal. *shrugs shoulders*” – Rachel P.
  2. My brain fog. I literally forgot how to hold my fork while eating out and I had a neurologist appointment 30 minutes later. They literally shrugged it off. I tried to hold it three times. I almost burst into tears. I get so embarrassed by my brain fog and this was my biggest indicator I had fibromyalgia.” – Eloise T.
  3. The pain. I went through 14 years of life, just assuming that everyone else was in extreme pain all the time. I just blamed it on ‘sensitive skin’ and didn’t tell anyone. Then my mom took me to her rheumatologist because of my hives, and it turned out that I was sick.” – Mattie M.
  4. Brain fog is a big one. Also fatigue and my digestive issues.” – Abby G.A.
  5. I’ve always bruised easily and even at one point had doctors asking my mother how I came by them… if you see what I mean. Then there’s the hangover style headaches which of course ‘weren’t migraines,’ so I was making those up. I think the best was the acid reflux I had as a kid and the hospital told [my] mum to ‘buy her a computer, she must be bored and needs something to occupy her mind.’ All signs.” – Nicky G.
  6. Always feeling like I was coming down with something, stiff neck and sore throat but wouldn’t turn into anything.” – Audra F.
  7. Balance problems. It’s not an exclusive fibromyalgia symptom and definitely not a defining one, but I later found out that it can definitely be linked to fibro. I never even saw a doctor for it because most of my family/friends and even I just thought I was really clumsy.” – Shelby C.
  8. I was told I had ‘shin splints’ for three years straight even though they never went away, even with rest. Both legs, entire legs, but it was ‘shin splints.’” – Krystina K.F.
  9. I have a sporadic spasm in my neck which causes my head to rapidly turn to the right. I went to a neurologist and he told me to go ‘see my shrink’ and ‘up my dose of [SSRIs].” My mental health condition and my physical health condition were invalidated in one appointment.” – Grazia D.
  10. People lightly tapping me and it felt like I got punched. ‘Oh, I didn’t even hit you that hard’ was something I heard quite a bit.” – Lisa B.
  11. “My growing pains weren’t really growing pains.” – Julie H.C.
  12. Being exhausted. Growing up and being a grown up are hard enough. You miss a lot by needing that extra sleep, but I for one can’t skip it. It is easily perceived as lazy, but without it I deteriorate quickly and other symptoms become more prominent.” – Amanda G.
  13. Back and leg pain. It was blamed on surgeries but it would never go away so I demanded to be tested for other things. Five years later and it’s never gone away, and never will. I also remember having ‘growing pains’ a lot as a child. I think I’ve had it my whole life.” – Meena N.
  14. Inability to regulate my body temperature… From intense hot flashes, to freezing feet from limited circulation… ‘It’s just hormones.’” – Terri D.
  15. “Chronic pain and fatigue… and when all my tests came out normal, the doc told me that it’s ‘all in my head’ and the pain is psychosomatic.” – Lakshmi R.
  16. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia itself [is] not taken seriously. Brain fog? That’s just old age. Pain? Old age. Migraine type headaches? Stress. Burning limb pain? You don’t really have that. Fatigue? Laziness. Fibromyalgia? Not real. You just want attention.” – Sarah N.
  17. I was told for almost 10 years that my pain was caused by my weight. So, I lost [a lot of weight] and was in worse pain afterwards. I was finally diagnosed less than a year ago. I thought things would get better…” – Brianna S.
  18. The fatigue. One doctor told me I was just ‘out of shape,’ others blamed my thyroid, and I even had a sleep study done where it was determined I only stop breathing 20 times an hour so I didn’t qualify for any other treatments or tests. It wasn’t until two and a half years later that the fatigue was finally determined to be caused by the fibro.” – Candess K.
Originally published: May 8, 2018
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