Why is the butterfly a symbol of Fibromyalgia?

February 25, 2019

Why is the butterfly a symbol of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body. Along with widespread pain those with the condition can also experience one or more of the following symptoms – extreme tiredness, increase in sensitivity to pain, difficulty sleeping, muscle stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and problems with memory and concentration, known as Fibro-fog.

It is not known what causes Fibromyalgia, but it is thought to be related to abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain and a change in the way that the Central Nervous System processes pain messages around the body via the spinal cord, brain, and nerves.

It is suggested that if your parents have the condition you may also develop it due to inheriting certain genes. A lot of cases appear to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event such as giving birth, injury or infection, having an operation or the breakdown of a relationship or the death of a loved one to name a few.

The symptoms are like several other, more well-known conditions which mean those affected by it can often be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.

Fibromyalgia is known as an invisible illness. This is because it doesn’t affect the organs in the body, can’t be revealed with x-rays, blood tests and isn’t life-threatening. To other people, those affected by the condition appear to look normal as the symptoms don’t show themselves in a visual way. For those living day to day with chronic pain though, it can cause them discomfort and can be very debilitating.



The symbol most associated with Fibromyalgia is the butterfly. This was adopted as although a butterfly is light and weightless it could still cause pain if it landed on someone with the condition due to their heightened sensitivity to pain and pressure.

Previously the purple awareness ribbon was used to represent Fibromyalgia so often organisations will use a purple butterfly -- amalgamating the symbol and colour associated with the condition.

Another reason the butterfly symbol may be used is that on MRI scans the brain can appear to be the shape of a butterfly with outstretched wings.

Do you know of any other symbols which represented Fibromyalgia? Or have a special tattoo of one of these? If so leave us a comment below.

1 Response

Debbie Coker
Debbie Coker

December 12, 2019

Got tiny butterfly tattoo when I was 33. Have always loved them. Diagnosed with Fibro about 10 yrs later. After reading this, I now want to have my tattoo updated to purple😎. Yes, I was my own advocate in getting diagnosed after many specialist missed it. Some days I forget I have it, and others, I’m painfully aware. My 23 yr old daughter was recently diagnosed and is changing her diet to avoid medication. Praying I can do the same😎

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