Throat Pain with Fibromyalgia and MECFS

Throat Pain with Fibromyalgia – A Moderate to Severe Symptom of Fibro

Throat pain and voice problems are symptoms of moderate to severe fibromyalgia that isn’t mentioned much during conversations about fibro.

When they’re compared to the widespread pain and fatigue that most fibro patients experience, perhaps it’s not thought of as a distressing symptom, yet losing my voice has been devastating for me. I wish fibro patients talked about this embarrassing and painful symptom more often.

I experience throat pain and a hoarse voice and sore throat with fibromyalgia almost constantly, but especially if I’m in a lot of pain and really exhausted. This symptom resulted in me losing a 20-year career as a classically trained vocalist. It has been devastating to lose the one thing I’ve cherished above all else since I first began singing at age 5 – my voice.

I’ve been singing on stages all my life. (My first performance on stage was at age 5 at Carembeck Public School.)

The day I knew that my voice was gone for good was at Taiwan’s Canada Day 150 Celebration in Taipei in 2017.

As an event organizer for that day, I had to be on stage greeting our special guests and the 8,000 attendees that showed up to party that day. We had live music going on all day, and the event culminated with a final performance from the Canadian All-Stars, a band that I was singing with that night. I got through our opening remarks and Oh Canada at 4:30pm. I led everyone in singing Canada’s national anthem and I was fine, but after finishing my welcome speech, I could feel that tell-tale tingling in my throat saying that it was thinking about not cooperating with me for the rest of the night.

As I stood on stage at 8pm that night looking out across a football field crammed full of people, I knew it was going to be one of my last performances.

Taiwan - Canada Day Celebration
A terrible photo, but what else can you expect with a crowd this size?

I had no idea that the voice problems I was having at the time were due to fibromyalgia, and I didn’t tell anyone about it although I’m sure the squeaks and hoarse dips in my voice were becoming more apparent with each passing year.

Every time I had opened my mouth to sing that year, I had no idea what was going to come out. Was my natural alto belter voice going to come through for me, or was squeaky, hoarse Carrie going to emerge?

After rocking through several songs including Ironic by Alanis Morisette, I was halfway through Hallelujah when my voice started going. I hoped that no one could hear me and that my band mates could cover for me.

When I heard the performance afterwards, I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. It didn’t sound like me at all. And that is when I decided to retire from singing.

I did two more short performances after that big day and both times, I barely made it through. I did it, but lost my voice for days afterwards.

I was able to record a short video this past week in March 2021 that shows my voice going from ok to completely gone several times during the video. Check it out:

Naturally, when one loses something important to them, they tend to do some research and that’s when I started bringing it up in my fibromyalgia support groups. Other patients agreed with me and resource articles have been shared at the bottom of this post.

Here are some replies I received from Twitter about this question:

If you’re new to my site, let me briefly explain that fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disease that causes long-lasting chronic (and often intractable pain) that affects many parts of the body.

Patients like me can experience tenderness that occurs when we’re touched or when we experience pressure on our muscles, joints, and skin. I also experience numbness, burning (paresthesia) and pins and needles in my limbs, especially my legs, feet, and upper arms.

Other symptoms include:

  • unrelieved exhaustion and sleep problems
  • migraine, headaches, back and neck pain,
  • memory impairment and with brain fog
  • depression, anxiety, and more

People with fibromyalgia often report additional types of pain, including headaches, back and neck pain, sore throat, pain or clicking in the jaw (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), and stomach pain or digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Sep 18, 2020 Fibromyalgia: MedlinePlus Genetics › Genetics › Genetic Conditions

Fibromyalgia can occur on its own or with other chronic pain conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and more

But what has happened to my voice is most surprising to me in terms of unexpected symptoms.

Throat Pain with Fibromyalgia – I never dreamed I'd lose my voice to a disease that also robbed me of the freedom to move and the freedom to live without pain. Click To Tweet

Fibromyalgia causes muscle pain and it’s not uncommon for my muscles to tighten and then stay that way for a while before I become conscious of my body tightening up. I have to work hard at getting my muscles to relax. When it happens in my face and head, it results in debilitating chronic migraine and tight throat muscles which cause my sinus cavity to back up with fluid.

This results in postnasal drip even though my nose is always dry. Instead, I have a hacking cough and a sore throat almost all the time.

I also experience ear problems because of this. My sinus problems and clogged itchy ears were major indicators that fibromyalgia and AS were wreaking havoc in the most unexpected of places.

Coping with Throat Pain with Fibromyalgia

Honestly, I have no tips for you except to take care of yourself and try not to strain your voice. I limit how much time I spend on the phone and how much talking I do. If my voice goes hoarse, the only thing that will help is rest.

Stay hydrated!

As for me, who knows if this will be with me for life or if I’ll get the chance to sing again?

Additional reading and resources for throat pain with fibromyalgia:

Health Unlocked forum for patient discussion on Fibromyalgia Action UK: Voice disorder and throat pain

Voice disorder in patients with Fibromyalgia – Science Direct

Fibromyalgia impairs perceived voice quality either in patient self evaluated or in clinician evaluated rating scales. Furthermore, the results confirm that Fibromyalgia caused short maximum phonation time and low voice intensity. This study is the first report with regards to voice evaluation in Fibromyalgia and in order to make a generalization further researches are needed.

Voice Problems with Fibromyalgia

I'm a chronically ill Canadian who has been living in Taiwan since 2006. I'm a bit of a jack of all trades! I love art, gardening, flower arranging, reading (that's an understatement if you've seen my GoodReads profile), and snuggling with my cats. Animal videos make me cry. I hate cooking. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my garden bloom! Learning about new cultures and exploring the world has been my thing since I started traveling at age 19. A self-professed autodidact, I can speak comfortably on many different subjects and hold a special place in my heart for science, technology, law, health and medicine, and history. You can find me nerding out at home most of the time due to being chronically ill and housebound. If I'm not engaged in one of the activities listed above, I'm probably building websites. Check my About page under Carrie Kellenberger to learn why I'm taking you on this journey with me through My Several Worlds. I can't wait to get to know you better!


  • Claire

    I don’t ever lose my voice, but I have what I suspect is burning throat syndrome. Something I have meant to follow up for some time, but other things took priority. I always wondered if it was linked to fibro or not.

    • Carrie Kellenberger

      It’s so interesting to see this come up and it’s typically mentioned casually. I was able to film it today and caught a good example of what happens with my voice. I didn’t do anything ahead of time and was not overusing my voice, as usual, so I hope people can relate to the video. (And not judge my hair or morning appearance! LOL!)

  • Sheryl

    This is so sad, especially knowing that you were (are!) a professional singer. It’s like losing a piece of you. Thank you for sharing and advocating though. You are one brave lady x

  • Katie Clark

    Interesting. I do get mouth sores and a scratchy, irritated throat. But, I attributed it to dry mouth. I did have sore throat and loss of voice before I went dairy free, though. I’m glad you’ve brought attention to this issue.

  • Lauren

    I’m glad I found this because I have been trying to figure out for years now what is wrong with my throat. I haven’t been diagnosed with fibromyalgia yet but I’m pretty certain that it’s what I have. I’ve been seeing different doctors (regular and alternative) for years now and nobody can figure out what’s wrong with me. I have 2 sisters who have been diagnosed with fibro and I’m pretty sure I have it as well. It explains every single one of my unexplained symptoms. My throat pain tends to be an achy feeling and then progresses to feeling like I have a charley horse in my throat… not pleasant. This lasts for weeks sometimes. I am also a singer so this makes me very upset when it happens. I do get hoarse from time to time but it’s mainly just pain and a loss of control over my vocals. It’s like my throat just gets so fatigued that it just gives up and I can’t control my notes anymore. It’s really upsetting so I am so sorry that this happens to you. I am thankful, though, to have found this because it clears some things up for me a bit.

    • Carrie Kellenberger

      Hi Lauren,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It is especially devastating as a singer. Unfortunately, I know plenty of family members who have fibromyalgia and I’m surprised that you haven’t received a diagnosis yet given your symptoms and family history. I hope your medical team can give you some answers soon. Yes, fibromyalgia is the culprit behind 300+ odd symptoms. It’s a beast. The way you have described your throat pain is exactly what mine feels like. At first I thought it was a thyroid issue because fibro and throat problems simply aren’t talked about much because of all the other issues/disruptions is causes, but once my thyroid was ruled out and I did a bit more digging, I found out it’s fairly common. It does feel like a charley horse and your throat does get fatigued quickly. At times I’m totally fine and within a minute, it feels like my throat is so exhausted, I can’t push any more noise out. I’m so glad my article helped you. Reach out any time!

  • Lisa Szymanski

    Hi Carrie thanks so much for your post on throat pain.I have Fibromyalgia have had a constant sore throat since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.My voice has changed since.Thanks so much for your post.Sincelery LisaSzymanski

  • Kimmie A.

    Thanks so much for posting this! As a FM support group leader, even I have had trouble finding anyone to validate my exhausted vocal chords. I am working through the Guaifenesin Protocol for FM by Dr. St. Amand, and after 6 years, am nearly free of all FM symptoms at last, except the inability to hit high notes, and sing like I used to. I have heard of several others who reversed their symptoms on this protocol as I am, and who eventually DID sing again after
    years of clearing out the accumulated burning phosphates from their mucus membranes and the impacted neck and larynx muscle area. There is real hope with this treatment, and I recommend everyone give it a try. No doctor required, A very safe but lengthy home treatment that theoretically reverses FM/CFS/ME if you follow it precisely. Beats getting worse, and it has certainly saved me from a life of decline. I was a bedridden”goner” and at the end of my will to carry on when I first stumbled on this treatment, and now I do everything (except sing!) I never thought I would ever again. Tennis, dancing, some kind of exercise every day , and with lots of energy again. After years of hoarseness, thick mucus and a wicked post nasal drip, I am optimistic to get through the end of this healing process and sing one day again. All free info, free support, and the good news we all desperately need. There is hope. ❤Kimmie

    • Carrie Kellenberger

      Hi Kimmie! This is so encouraging and I will have to check out Guaifenesin Protocol! I’ve heard from plenty of patients who have exhausted vocal cords. It has been featured in interviews on Support Fibromyalgia Network, including myself, so perhaps the news is getting out there – and as usual it’s patients doing the work of getting that info out. I’m not sure if my voice will come back or not. I can belt out a tune, but can’t do four hours a night like I used to – or even one hour now. But you’re right – never lose hope! Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing!

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