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Adrienne Dellwo

Fibromyalgia & Clothes - These Things Hurt!

By January 22, 2008

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Do your clothes make you hurt? Mine do! Bras, waistbands, even the tie on my old bathrobe -- anything that puts pressure on my chest or abdomen can at times set off either burning or intense, stabbing pains.

I've tailored my entire wardrobe to accommodate this particular symptom, but I've never read a word about it anywhere. Wondering if I was crazy or if it was a common thing among those of us with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), I asked about it in the forum. Turns out, I'm not crazy! (OK, at least not about this.) A lot of people posted that they have the same problem and thought they were the only one. One woman described the pain as feeling like a "terrible sunburn." Clothes can cause pain all over, on your tender points and on areas that are numb or tingly.

I thought it was high time this topic was addressed, since clothing is generally something we have to deal with on a daily basis. With the help of those wonderful forum folks, I've put together some fibro-tested tips. Click here to read the article.

Comments
January 24, 2008 at 5:42 pm
(1) Sheri says:

I’ve had the same problem with bras, waistbands, etc. I thought it was just me and not my Fibromyalgia, until I talked to my doctor and she said that it’s common.

January 25, 2008 at 4:47 pm
(2) Jac says:

OMG!!! My doctor wasn’t as knowledgable! I’ve spent years choosing clothes that don’t constrict my waistline!!! Thanks for shining a flashlight in here! lolol

January 25, 2008 at 7:13 pm
(3) Janice says:

The feel of socks,the little pimple things and the stiching at the toes hurt.So I wear my socks turned inside out. Also I can’t take the feel of sweatpants and shirts after a few washings ( again the little pimples !) so I wear them inside out. They are very comfortable that way (of course to just stay home in )I don’t wear the sweats in public.

January 25, 2008 at 8:44 pm
(4) Anj says:

I am only 23, been suffering for almost 10 years, and the moment I get home from being out anywhere, my bra and anything else, sleeves with cuffs, workout shirts, tank tops with built in bras or anything else on my neck, shoulders, chest or wrists must come off immediatly. I’m so glad other people are also realizing this as a major problem. I am always so uncomfortable throughout my day and just don’t know how to make other’s understand my need for me changing my clothing constantly!

January 26, 2008 at 11:14 am
(5) Martha says:

So glad to see this article! I NEVER wear a bra unless i absolutely have to and family hasn’t understood it’s because it HURTS. Spread the word, gals…and wear whatever helps!

January 26, 2008 at 11:48 am
(6) Shawna says:

Me too! I have to buy underwear that has the elastic completely covered with cotton cloth. Exposed elastic hurts and sometimes I will even get a skin reaction. Forget bras, I rip them off as soon as I get home and I try to buy clothes that don’t require a bra. Thank goodness I am an A-B size.
I buy a lot of clothes at the thrift store because they are already worn and softened!
Oh, and my sheets HAVE to be 400 thread count or better- anything less itches and feels uncomfortable.

January 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm
(7) Shirley Wall says:

Oh! Thank you a thousand times over! I have been burning around my ribcage for years and have had EVERY test known thinking it was pancreas or kidneys or ??? but after every test the Dr’s all came back with it’s only your Fibro.ONLY?????? This is misery in it’s most wicked form because even our clothes hurts us. I only get dressed if I HAVE to go out, otherwise it’s loose fitting nightgowns and lightweight housecoats. I can’t stand shoes on my feet either. I need to wear compression socks but can’t stand the pain of getting them on and after I do, five min. later they come off. What is this stuff that can make life a living hell? I am so glad to read that others are having problems with their clothing and I will try some of the things they have suggested, anything to relieve this burning hot plate that I have around my rib-cage and stomach!

January 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm
(8) yvonne voigt says:

I too have sensivity but it a different area.
It is my tailbone area and a bit lower. Suffered badly for over a yr. until I figured out it came from the seam in my jeans. I quit wearing jeans and also bought a cushion with a V cut out for the tailbone area. It still took about a yr to stop hurting.

January 28, 2008 at 1:45 pm
(9) Shel says:

It’s such a relief to find out that I’m not completely nuts! LOL!! I never even thought that my fibro could be the reason that I feel the overwhelming need to whip off my bra, shoes, any kind of fitted shirt, as soon as I walk in the door! It used to be my jeans as well, but I’ve lost over 90 pounds and I think that’s a big reason that I now feel comfortable wearing jeans all the time. Thanks so much for bringing this topic up!

March 10, 2008 at 10:55 pm
(10) Lee says:

Has anyone ever heard of Dr. St. Amand and his “guaifenesin protocol for FM? Have you ever been “mapped” for FM diagnosis?

March 10, 2008 at 10:57 pm
(11) Lee says:

Has anyone ever heard of Dr. St. Amand and his “guaifenesin protocol”? Have you ever been “mapped” for FM diagnosis?

March 18, 2008 at 6:12 pm
(12) Cyndie says:

My husband get upset because I never get dressed, but I can only handle my clothes for about 2 hours then I hurt so bad. After wearing a bra or pants with a tighter waist, I can’t sleep at night. I love my jammies and my sweatpants because they are loose fitting. I am glad I work at home because I don’t think I could handle getting dressed for a job daily. I am so glad it isn’t just me. Can someone call my husband? LOL

August 12, 2008 at 1:25 am
(13) Katrina says:

I have Fibromyalgia and lately it hasn’t been hurting as much as having ANY fabric touch my skin itches like crazy. As far as the sheets go, I work in bedding. I will tell you that thread counts can be tricky. You want to make sure you have a SINGLE ply thread count. What a lot of place do it twist 2-3 threads together and ta da – double or triple the actual thread count with out the higher quailty feel. Also, if you’re looking for a softer feel – aloe washed sheets are key and cotton sateen (they get softer as you wash them)

August 16, 2008 at 7:29 pm
(14) Norma says:

The Bra, Yes, Must come off!! I gave up wearing underwear as too many layers bothered me.First thing after 9 hours at work.
Water at one point really bothered me. I would tell my husband Once I was in there, it wasn’t bad. When he met me I showered morning to wake me & nite to sleep.
I never gave up the at least once a day. I work among many teaching educated people, don’t think they would of apreciated otherwise! hee. It just felt like an “Invasion” on my skin. Sound really weird?
It did eventually stop, thank you God.

October 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm
(15) terri says:

I’ve been having similar issues lately – my clothing hurts my skin like I’ve been sunburnt and they also leave bright red imprints into my skin. I can’t wear my jean because it feels like someone rubbing sandpaper across my skin and when I take them off, I have every seam, crease, etc imprinted into my skin in bright red. pantyhose drive me crazy, my bra, everything. I’ve only had this for a couple of months and I’m getting so depressed about it. I don’t know if it’s fibro because I haven’t had that diagnosed but I’ll mention to my doctor and see what she thinks.

October 30, 2008 at 5:34 am
(16) Nora says:

I found a bra that Just my Size has out. All t shirt type cotton. No under wires. It helps. It’s the ONLY one so far.

November 2, 2008 at 5:11 pm
(17) Kristen says:

Does anyone know of a “pain free” clothing line? I kid you not there have been so many day’s that I can’t leave the house because my clothing hurts too much. I become a mental case from this issue at times. Trapped in frumpy land, consumed with pajama bottoms and giant cotton tee shirts. I even had a breast reduction due to the pain of a bra. I feel isolated by this drama.

February 21, 2009 at 7:28 pm
(18) Sara says:

I too suffer from FMS and my pain is not so much a burning but that horrible, bone-deep ache that radiates all up my neck and across my shoulders. I dread wearing bras and even buy them too big so they don’t hurt quite as much (which also kindof defeats the purpose of a bra)! Any type of shoulder strap bothers me horribly and can make getting through the day difficult. As soon as I am home, the bra comes off and the sweats go on! Luckily, I have a small chest and spend most of the summer without a bra on–yah!

March 20, 2009 at 12:34 am
(19) Julie says:

I am 24 I just found out that I am not the only one to have this problem. I thought I was crazy and was the only one to have this problem. I now had it for 2-3 years can’t wear tight cloth it makes me have pain. Can’t wear anything with elastic in it, socks omg I never find right ones with no elastic, either too stretch or elastic and those diabetic ones still have elastic or stretch and rip fast, and for pants so weird when I stand need to make them tighter but when I sit need to adjust the belt so annoying. Most cloth now days made so skinny and it hurts.

March 20, 2009 at 1:02 am
(20) Julie says:

Looks like woman have this problem more? Yeah tell me do they have pain free cloth? If so many have this problem why don’t they make pain free cloth?

September 20, 2009 at 4:55 pm
(21) Sianna says:

I have alot of clothing sensitivity, I have found that wearing a bra is now impossible, but I can’t go out of the house without, so I have started wearing seamless shapewear with large built in cups. This prevents having a band around my chest where the pain is excruciating. I have also found that underwear with high waistbands help get the pressure from around my belly. When I wear socks, I choose diabetic seamless socks and when I am swollen I wear compression stockings that help alleviate the edema. My shirts all have v-necks or I feel like I am choking. I can’t wear anything to bed at all, and my sheets must be high quality, pill free and washed regularly as a grain of sand will be felt all night long and keep me awake. Also, the sheets and blankets must be tucked in just right and wrinkle free.

November 12, 2009 at 11:20 pm
(22) gwen says:

i am so glad to have found these comments. i have a constant burning pain across my upper back and my breast and chest. i quit wearing wire bras many years ago, but now even a flimsy bra is miserable. i have a small bust but feel like im the size of dolly parton sometimes due to the sensitivity and always knowing my breasts exists. but thanks to all of you I can at least know i’m not the only one that lives with that sunburnt feeling.

November 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm
(23) joy says:

Sports bras don’t give any separation to the “girls” and regular bras kill my ribs. What type bras to you wear. Brand names would help. Thanks.

November 19, 2009 at 8:43 pm
(24) Adrienne Dellwo says:

I’ve found a Classique bra at Lane Bryant that provides decent support and a little separation, but is comfortable enough for me to wear for several hours (on most days, at least.) It doesn’t have any wires, and it’s made of soft fabric.

February 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm
(25) Tracy says:

First let me say, after years of agony, pain and frustration, it took about 10 years to get a clear diagnosis. It was as though doctors were afraid to say it’s fibromyalgia. I also have Osteoarthritis and gustatory sweating disorder (profuse sweating of the head and face when I eat ANY food. But, to the subject of my clothes hurting, when I saw this site I started crying. I seriously thought about ending my misery. Underneath my breasts (and I wear a 32-A) I feel like my skin is being burned off sometimes and my ribs feel like someone is squeezing literally to death. Then from the back it feels as if there is a fire hot poker being rammed from my inside out. Thank you for letting me know “IT’S NOT JUST ME.” The seams in my shirts and pants hurt and make me sore. I also wear my socks inside out because of the toe seam. I have taken scissors and cut slits in the elastic on the waist and legs of my panties. I don’t know what else to do but walk around naked :( I can’t work because my condition is so severe that I can’t sit or stand for more than a few minutes without excruciating pain and getting SSI-disability is a b****. I pray for a better day and a better way.
Thanks for listening!

May 2, 2010 at 9:49 pm
(26) Marnie says:

I just put fibromyalgia and bra into Google and came upon this site. Thank heavens it’s not just me. I was really hoping that someone had found a way around this problem. I am a 28D so going bra-less is a problem (although infinitely less painful). I went into a bra shop to try to find one that was more comfortable and after explaining to the fitter about the fibro she said I would have less problems if I wore the right size and pulled it tight to show me. The pain was unbearable and she got really nasty because I cried out.
I use Vagisil powder (very fine and non allergenic) under my breasts to ease the rubbing – whether I wear a bra or not. With large heavy breasts I can’t see a way out of this situation. I was really hoping for a miracle answer when I searched, but it’s comforting to know I am not alone.

July 1, 2011 at 11:52 am
(27) Tina says:

I am a DD and going braless isn’t an option for me either, the pain after an hour or two is almost unbearable lately :-(
If you find any bra’s less painful let me know as going without isn’t an option for me either. Know you are def not alone!

July 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm
(28) Susan says:

Like other commenters, I thought it was only me! For the past year it’s been like having a boa constrictor squeezing my chest & back all day long! It’s hard to go braless at work, yet even the new Barely There bras are torture. Thanks for at least showing me that I’m not suffering alone, and that other people do understand.

July 30, 2010 at 11:09 am
(29) Louise says:

I wake up most mornings to the feeling of severely sunburnt skin. Clothes are highly painful and even my husband placing his hand on the small of my back make me scream. Unfortunatly, i still work so i have to wear the exact same clothes that kill me. It results in a never ending cycle of narcotic painkillers, sleepless nights and of course pain!
p.s. i agree Bras suck.

October 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm
(30) Tatum says:

OMG- Yes! I am sitting at my office job right now just begging the clock to move faster so I can go home and undress. Mine feels more like I have been squeezed in a vice-grip in the rib cage, a knife inbetween my shoulder blades, and legs so restless I can’t sit still for a second. Lower back pain I twist back and forth to try to pop or relieve, but never works. Then here is the cherry on top! Tags in the back of shirts irriate me to NO end. Never used to but now no matter how soft the material the tag is made of I can not tolerate it against my skin. I have the Electric Shock Pains, Phantom cold water running down my left thigh, numbness, crawlings, bee sting pains, all sorts of “crazy” feelings that you love to explain to other people including doctors. Because, lets face it- I dont care if you are a specialist in the treatment of fibro, if you have not “felt it” you do not / can not understand it. We dont understand it, but after years of suffering at it’s wrath – just accept it as a daily stuggle. Close friends & family get tired of hearing about it, can you blame them. I can remember a day when I never felt pain at all, that was a while ago. It is a constant on my mind. I miss being able to be the person I once was.

October 31, 2010 at 6:02 pm
(31) Robin Burns says:

I’ve just launched a new line of custom sewing patterns for fibromyalgia patients. These combine beauty with comfort and have several styles to choose from in each pattern. It’s about time we stopped wearing old sweats and pajamas to the grocery store!

December 20, 2010 at 3:18 am
(32) anna farrell says:

i was born with this problem and i do not have fm and/or cf. it’s not just halters or waistbands it’s all clothes. it was really hard growing up with this because i have no visible symptoms and my skin looks healthy and feels soft to the touch. i’m the one who started the boca inside out look : ). i’m super sensitive to temp changes as well. i have raunaud’s which is probably related. over the last few months things have gotten worse and i look forward to coming home and i don’t socialize much. my own skin is my enemy, i have so few things i can wear anymore. i’ve had this for 60 years and all i get is a blank stare from doctors when i even mention it, argh. and like i said up front, i was born with this problem, i am narcoleptic but i do not have fm or anything like that.

March 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm
(33) betty says:

I have lupus with arthritis with positive rf. I also was diag. with fibro. I was in pain wearing my bra, any thing that didn’t fit loose, hurt. My rib cage was sore and my adomen also. I was cutting the elastic from all my pj’s, could not stand to wear jeans. I thought is was because I put on an extra few pounds. My skin feels as though I have a sun burn, and the clothing iritates it. I found this sight and I felt better, I am not crazy, my underwear even bothers me. I will discuss this with my dr. at my next visit.

June 9, 2011 at 5:55 am
(34) Gail says:

I am 51 and for my whole life I have had these problems. I thought I was just “made wrong” or something because clothes hurt, I cannot wear a bra. I used to wear a loose fitting camisole under my shirt but I can’t even do that now. I can’t have tight things on my waist, I have to turn my socks inside out. Reading all this makes me feel so much better. I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and several other things, but I never put it together that was WHY all those things bothered me!!!

July 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm
(35) Misty says:

Any suggestions on a comfortable, supportive bra? I work in the public so it is really not an option to go without. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

September 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm
(36) Erin says:

Wow… you guys REALLY do get it.

I’m 23 years old and I haven’t been able to wear a bra without pain since I was a sophomore in high school. I am very flat chested, 34A but I could NEVER wear a 34″ band. It would be debilitating. Wearing a “Basic Bra” in size medium from Gap Body is painful enough. If I think back to all the places I’ve had to slip the damn thing off under my shirt and stuff it in my purse… it’s really unbelievable.

I used to think the bra pain was because I’m very hypermobile (see ). I used to occasionally “slip a rib” and it felt like I was being stabbed in the lungs and heart, and it seemed like the pressure of a bra was enough to do something similar to me on a daily basis. However, I remember a neurologist and RA specialist both mentioning fibromyalgia when I was about 16 or 17 so I’m thinking this is the more likely cause of my pain.

The dull, sickening ache that builds behind my left shoulder blade and throughout my chest, ribs, and shoulders is a constant distraction, especially when dressed and seated on a computer for hours at work. My boyfriend of 6 years can’t fully understand it. He just knows when I’m writhing about on the floor from discomfort or bending backwards over a chair or bed (thinking stretching will help, which it doesn’t), that there is little he can do to help. He occasionally snaps at me to just go to a doctor and I’ve told him it just won’t help. I have really overused the phrase, “I don’t feel well,” because of the condition so it probably has a lot less of an impact.

September 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm
(37) Erin says:

When I’m doing the same writhing (though not on the floor) at work, and have to say something, I sometimes mention that I was hit by a car as a pedestrian in high school (which is true, but of little consequence) to get people to understand the seriousness.

The thing at work is, because so many middle-aged folks working in an office setting have back pain, nobody gets it. They relate it to their pinched nerves or slipped discs, or symptoms from sitting hunched on a computer.

It’s not! I think a lot of it is the clothes. I dread dressing up in them, it’s horrible. I have 2 part-time jobs and I’ve whittled down my hours at the much higher paying one because I have to dress up and sit at a computer all day. The other job pays much less, but I wear tees and jeans, nobody judges me for it, and I’m slightly more comfortable.

Well anyway, I also wanted to relate to you all on a few other things. When I read about people having trouble with sock seams and clothing tags, I almost had to chuckle thinking about my mother. She’s overly familiar with “tactile sensitivity” from the endless tantrums I used to throw over those things from age two up.

PS. Sorry I screwed up that link..

October 13, 2011 at 10:14 pm
(38) Teresa says:

I too have been diagnosed with FM..I too thought I was crazy with pain and clothes. The bras and jeans tight on my waist and the pain across my shoulders and neck. I am lucky that I can wear scrubs in my job. They are comforable. I buy the drawstring waste so that I can control the tightness. They are very loose and the material is comfortable. As for bras I have yet to find one. I was just surfing the internet and the Ahhh Bra seems like it would be comfortable. They are selling these at Wal-Mart now. Also Danskin seems to have a bra that might be comfortable. Check out the bra section at Wal-Mart. Good Luck to all!

January 25, 2012 at 12:16 am
(39) Paulette says:

I started to read the comments and began crying. No one every understands. My husband doesn’t understand why I have to straighten the sheets every night. Bras are absolutely horrible. I wear jeans on my few “good days”. I hate wearing sweat pants but I can’t find an alternative. Thanks goodness that there are other people feeling the same way.

January 25, 2012 at 8:51 am
(40) Tatum says:

I started going to the dr. w/ terrible pains in my neck/back/hips & received little help. The pains esculated into neuropathy- shock pains in my legs & feet that felt like electrical charges. My sleep habits zero Rem- I was staying awake to listen for my father-in-law so he did not walk-out of the house from his confusion. I never use an alarm clock – I can wake at anytime of the morning or night on time- cognitively. I now see a rheum. specialist who is treating me for fibro. He understands on a medical level often thinks our bizzare pains are in our heads. I take neurotin 600mg 4-x’s a day, a muscle relaxer to help sleep. I walk 30 min a day & do gentle stretches. I constantly hear – lose weight. The meds & life change hormones make losing weight impossible. I still get phantom pain like cold cold water running down my left leg. Clothing is painful, sitting upright is painful. But we have to carry-on. People get so tired of hearing about it. My eyes are always blood shot from pain, I get tmj & chipped my teeth from having to chew differently on those days. I can no longer wear shoes that tie- no backless shoes, my toes cannot grip a clog, no heels inclines are painful on the arches. Oh- and then there are the brain-fog days. Luckly I have a job that I can do for now, but if I ever had to make a change I dont know what I would do. We need more infor. & understanding from the public at large, I am so frustrated at people looking at me like I am a crazy-nut for saying I have Fibro!

August 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm
(41) Kristen says:

Hello ladies! All these posts are so old, is anyone still out there? I’ve never posted on a support group before, I tend to keep my illness to myself. I am 42, migraines all my life that morphed into fibro 3 years ago. I am also troubled by clothing issues, and it hits me particularly hard because my career before kids was in fashion, so clothes have always been very important to me! I too stopped wearing a bra, but when I have to go out I wear Braleluia from Spanks. I also find soft yoga clothing from Lucy to be pretty comfortable, with Uggs in winter and flip flops in summer. I try to put make up on every day and to go out, even if it’s just to walk the dog. A fibro bible that is very helpful: Fibromyalgia & Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival Manual by Devin Starlanyl and Mary Ellen Copeland. What vexes me most is constant sweating (face, neck, back.) any suggestions?

August 11, 2012 at 10:47 am
(42) Linda says:

Ladies, it sounds like most of you suffer more with Fibro than I do (18 years), mostly in my back & legs.

A great help to my legs is 20-30mg compression support hose (Jobst or Juzo). I get good buys on eBay. I put them on when I first get up in the morning, & can do much more with them, than without them.

October 9, 2012 at 4:39 am
(43) deb says:

I’m so frustrated. I have to wear plain socks and t-shirts inside out so the seams don’t rub, or diabetic socks, sometimes socks and old clothes that don’t have softener are abrasive. Bras really hurt as I need a lot of support for 34DD, post menopausal breasts. I’m ready to try duct tape over gauze! There has to be a clothing line somewhere that is supportive but not abrasive. Even companies that have taken out the tags use tape on areas like the upper back where it is so irritating!

April 20, 2013 at 6:40 am
(44) susan says:

My problem is im a ddd and going without a bra is hard does anyone know of a.brand that one can wear and has support to? also im having trouble sleeping anyone know a good remedy?

June 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm
(45) Rhonda says:

I too suffer from FMS and have problems with clothing around my mid section. I have found that the Ahh Bra sports bra works best for me since I’m large busted. The Ahh Bra sports version is double the thickness in the cup area and comes with removable pad inserts. I wear the regular Ahh Bra around the house or with baggier shirts. I get real good prices from herroom.com

June 22, 2013 at 2:29 am
(46) Debbie says:

Hi I was reading your post about Fibro and wearing clothes. I have too had problems wearing anything tight especially bras. I am writing a book about M.E./Fibro and wonder if it would be ok to quote part of your post?

Best regards from Debbie

July 10, 2013 at 9:38 am
(47) denise says:

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CANDID WORDS. This is exactly what i needed to know today!……….looking at your suggestions for a comfortable bra ASAP

October 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm
(48) Jessica says:

clothes hurt me. I am constantly wanting to rip them off when I have to get dressed and go out in public and all I can think about is when I can get home and rip them off and get something more comfortable on. The bra is the worst part. Ugh.. I do wear a lot of dresses that make being dressed less painful. Fibro is no fun. :(

November 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm
(49) shirlnga says:

do any of you have rash or break out over your body? I’ve been to two dermatologist and they cannot figure it out. One of them did a biopsy and gave me a copy of the pathology report which read “inconclusive” and also said “possibility of Grover’s Disease”. I had a really bad case of Shingles 4 years ago. I have pain under the left rib cage that I believe to be permanent nerve damage from the Shingles. It feels exactly like my Shingles pain, just not quite as severe and is in the area where my Shingles were. I’ve had the rash I have now on my body since April of this year (2013) and this is when the pain under left rib cage began. Also have burning and uncomfortable feeling in upper part of my stomach. I’m getting the camera down the throat tomorrow. Have had every other test there is. I’m not sure if I’m dealing with several different things or if all this is Fibro.(I was diagnosed with Fibro 2 months ago)

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