5 Realities of Living with Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia affects about 4 million US adults, about 2% of the adult population. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it can be effectively treated and managed.(1) 

Fibromyalgia is a painful condition which causes the patient to experience chronic pain in their entire body. Its symptoms are different from each person to another, which makes it hard to diagnose. One of the ways to say if someone suffers from this condition is to apply pressure on specific body parts. Doctors use this method to diagnose fibromyalgia, applying pressure on the neck, hips, knees, back and even the elbows. After being diagnosed, your doctor will advise you on how to cope with the pain, as there is no cure for this condition. All the treatments focus on improving the quality of life, so they range from over the counter pain relievers, antidepressants to acupuncture and massage. All people who struggle with this condition have to face a number of harsh realities each day.

Following are five common issues people with Fibromyalgia face each day:

Fibro fog

Patients who suffer from fibromyalgia experience a state similar to the one after a night of drinking, known as Fibro Fog (2). During this state, the person can’t focus, no matter how much coffee they drink. This is one of the main problems of people who suffer from this condition, according to Leon Reyfman, MD Pain Management NYC (3), a pain management center. The inability to focus and get organized can prevent you from functioning in the society, both in the professional and personal life.

Chronic fatigue

Fibromyalgia leads to chronic fatigue (4), as the body is never able to get enough rest, due to the pain. Even when the person believes they’ve managed to sleep, their deep sleep has been disrupted by pain, preventing the body from undergoing the natural restoration process which takes place during deep sleep phase.

Frequent visits to the doctor

Because it is so hard to diagnose, many people spend years on end visiting doctors in the attempt to know what is wrong with their body. Apart from the fact there are no standard tests to diagnose this condition, it is highly subjective. Each person has a different pain limit, so what might be severe pain for one person can be mild pain for another. Along with the fact that your pain is invisible to the outsider, many patients often spend years before they are diagnosed correctly (5).

Headaches are part of the game

Fibromyalgia is accompanied by frequent headaches (6), some triggered by stress, others triggered by food intolerance or hypersensitivity to light. Studies have reported that about 20% to 36% of patients with migraine also have fibromyalgia. Similarly, the frequency of migraine in patients with fibromyalgia ranges from 45% to 80%, suggesting that migraine is common in patients with the condition. However, no explanations have been provided for the rate of co-occurrence.

Depression and anxiety

People who suffer from fibromyalgia often suffer from depression and anxiety (7). Having to cope with pain all the time affects your social life and makes you prone to solitude. At the same time, your body might develop a hypersensitivity to pain. Add the fact most patients are diagnosed with this condition after years of visiting different doctors and you find the reason why depression and anxiety follow fibromyalgia closely.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia include brain fog, chronic fatigue and lots of pain, which can make even the smallest, easiest task to seem impossible to complete. The feeling that you are alone often overwhelms those who struggle with this condition, but you are never alone.  

(1) CDC Fibromyalgia

(2) Arthritis Foundation: Fibro Fog

(3) Pain Management NYC 

(4) Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue: The Underlying Biology and Related Theoretical Issues

(5) Cleveland Clinic: Fibromyalgia

(6) Study Finds Association Between Migraine, Fibromyalgia Onset

(7) WebMD: Fibromyalgia and Depression

By Andrew Ellis

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