20 Photos That Show What Fibromyalgia Really Looks Like

By Erin Migdol
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 partnered with the National Fibromyalgia Association to ask our followers to 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
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  1. So relatable.
    I spent years working, going to church, volunteering at community events, being sociable, plus being a wife & a mother, homeschooling our 2 kids (now adults) from K – 12. I did all of the grocery shopping & laundry; I took the kids to all of their doctor/dentist appointments; I drove them to Awanas & their sleepovers; I nursed husband & children thru their illnesses. I simply alternated taking 4 Ibuprofen every 4 hours, & then after 2 hours, followed up w/1000mg Tylenol all day, all night.
    Nonetheless, all hell broke loose & I succumbed, I had no fight left in me. Chronic pain has literally altered my facial appearance, so no photo;) I am a composite of all of the 20 preceding photos. Incidentally, in going through the 20 photos depicting many different persons, I realized that is the most amount of people I have seen in months—since my last hospital visit—because of the isolated life I now live, either in my recliner or in my bed.

    1. This is to Moxie, ditto. I can’t think of anything else to say. And ,yes, I’m typing this from my bed trying to find the energy to shower so I can answer the door later.

      1. I hope you got your shower, Lauren:) Showers wipe me out! Instead of revitalizing me, I’m wiped for an hour or two! Go figure!

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