Fibromyalgia Affects Older People in Confusing Ways

Fibromyalgia Affects Older People in Confusing Ways

Through the Fog

As a woman over 60 with fibromyalgia, it’s difficult for me to figure out if a symptom I’m experiencing, such as hip pain, is related to my FM or just getting older. It’s super frustrating because I’m never sure if I should see a doctor about it or not. I know some of you understand where I’m coming from.

One of those issues is sleep. I can usually fall asleep OK (unless I’m dealing with painsomnia), but staying asleep is not so easy. If I wake up for any reason after I’ve been asleep for two to three hours, I stay wide awake for at least a few hours. Even if I sleep in later that morning, I feel like a slug for the rest of the day. My heart goes out to those of you who have insomnia. I don’t think I’d handle that very well at all.

Clumsiness seems to increase the longer I have this and the older I get. My balance is off, so I bump into walls and doorways. The longer I walk, the more I start to limp and feel off-balance. It makes me aware that people might think I’ve had too much to drink. Ever feel that way? I find myself holding onto counters, tables, and walls to keep from losing my balance. Bending over to pick up something kicks in my vertigo — a challenge I’m not fond of. I wonder how much of this is fibro and how much is just age-related.

My sensitivity to cold and humidity have increased exponentially since I’ve gotten older, which just exacerbates what I already struggle with in my journey with FM. Because of that, I find myself staying in climate-controlled environments (mostly my home). I think that’s why spring and fall are my favorite seasons. I bask in the warmth of spring and early summer. I love the coolness of fall and sitting by a fire pit in the evening. Winter is especially hard since I live in the snowy northeast.

If you’re an older woman or man with fibro, I’m interested in hearing what you struggle with. Have your symptoms gotten worse as you’ve gotten older? I know they say this is not a progressive disease, but I heartily disagree.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Lindsey Murphy says:

    Hi Robin. Thanks for your article. I am not an older person but I’ve been dealing with Fibromyalgia for 20 years or so. Since I was about 12 years old. My symptoms have absolutely gotten worse over the years. I believe that it’s a progressive disease. It typically doesn’t get better. My chronic fatigue is what I struggle with the most- staying awake at work especially. I have pain almost every single day. For years I thought my hip pain was because of FM I then I found out when I went to the doctor it’s actually bursitis. He told me joint pain is not part of FM. I have NO balance whatsoever- escalators are my enemy. Struggling with my symptoms at work is especially tough. But I just keep on trucking. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe I’ll feel better later today..

  2. Hanan Watson says:

    I’m 74 years old and was diagnosed with FM in 2011 although I have had symptoms all my life. I believe that aging has an impact on the body in many ways and probably makes the FM symptoms worse. However, I suggest that it is too easy and possibly dangerous to blame all symptoms on FM as it may lead to missing another illness that may have developed, so I suggest that if you have not had a physical lately, that you do.
    Problem with sleep is one of the many symptoms of FM. I have solved that by taking a low dosage combination of prescription meds and Medical Marijuana at bedtime. That gives me 7-8 hours of refreshing sleep and I wake up with almost no pain which lasts till the next bedtime. I work closely with my rheumatologist and she monitors my medications and symptoms.
    You may want to discuss your sleep issues with your doctor as well. There are many ways to alleviate this issue and it makes a huge difference.
    I wish you the very best.

  3. Christine Lynch says:

    I’ve had this nasty illness for nearly 60 years. It has gotten progressively worse – or I have lost my ability to fight against it. Symptoms I had when I was in my 30’s, working full time and going to school at night seemed trivial at the time. Those same symptoms will keep me at home and on the couch these days. It’s comforting to know it’s not just me!

  4. Judith Easley says:

    Dear Robin,
    Thank you ever so much! Not because you suffer with Fibro or because you are older, but because you wrote this article which is about my life, too.

    Yep,it ain’t easy suffering with Fibro when one is old. Yes, to the vertigo when I bend over,but I suffer Meniere’s so for me it’s a double dose of something! What about chest pain? Is it a heart attack or is it Costochronditis again?!?!

    The list goes on and on of is it age or is it really Fibro or what exactly is going on…….Sigh.

    More articles, please, about this worthy subject.


  5. Betty says:

    I’m 72 and fibromyalgia has definitely gotten worse through the years. I used to say if I have two or three ‘good’ days, I would be thrilled. Now, I have none. I continue on as much as possible, working out at Curves, running errands, etc. but I have to take a rest in the afternoon. Sleep has been a problem the past few years. We just carry on!!

  6. donna says:

    Im only 56 but i experience all the things stated in your article. The pain in my calves which radiates down from my hip is so bad. If i cant walk my life is useless. I dont drive so its walk or bus. I do what i can each day and have to deal with each day as it comes.

  7. Patrick says:

    I am a 46 year old male living with Fibromyalgia, and the things you described in your article are exactly what’s happening to me. i thought maybe I had been misdiagnosed and really have MS instead, but it makes sense now. I have been getting clumsier the older I get, I have hip pain, especially when walking on trails and the sensitivity to the cold and humidity.

  8. Rita Cooney says:

    Thank you, Robin, for another excellent column. I am 70 with Fibromyalgia and experience all the miseries of most . There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if the symptom I am experiencing at the moment is something else and it is getting harder and harder. I have a friend who has been having severe gastrointestinal issues and everyone attributed it to her Fibro. Turned out her eye Dr. discovered she is jaundice and it was then discovered she has a tumor on her bile duct. We are awaiting the results of the biopsy. Thanks again for your wise words.

  9. Donnae Smith says:

    I so appreciate everyone’s comments! Yes, it is progressive! I’m 61 and was diagnosed 25 years ago. Last year I had to stop working, as preparing for work now takes 2 hours. I found my vocabulary significantly reduced (brain fog) and menopause, in addition to FM, had me wondering if I was going insane. The sensitivity to temperature, sound, humidity, and touch has only increased over time. Arnicare gel (Biotin) is an AMAZING find and dulls the bruised feeling my tender points feel, but sharp, burning pains are daily and, again, increased in the past 5 years like never before. Music, movies, reading and whenever possible, playing with my granddaughter, keep me going – if I can get out of bed! Thank you for these articles!

  10. Bonnie says:

    Glad to find this article. Was diagnosed with FM thirty one years ago. At age almost 73 I am TIRED of being TIRED ~ (just had to say the obvious ). Having a chronic condition of pain/fatigue for so long is boring and tedious……family and friends try to be supportive, but can’t seem to understand that my energy is SO limited. When I do have some energy , I have to use it wisely, knowing I will pay with MORE pain if I don’t.

    Most people are coping with their own ups/downs…..but it surely feels good to have a place here to kvetch with people who truly ‘get it’.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Bonnie, so glad you found us and so sorry you’ve been dealing with fibro for so long. I collaborated on a book called The Many Faces of Fibro to help others truly get a glimpse, from many different writers, about what our life is like. Hang around and kvetch with us here 💜😊

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