What is Fibromyalgia?
The term “Fibromyalgia” is derived from latin “fibro” meaning the connective tissue of tendons and ligaments, Greek “myo” indicating muscle and “algia” meaning pain.
It is a neurologic chronic condition that causes widespread pain and musculoskeletal discomfort in the body.
What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?
The cause of Fibromyalgia is still unknown but its believed that people with it process pain differently and they are also sensitive.
People who go through a severe physical or emotional trauma may develop fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia can also be gotten from genes.
If you have a family member with this condition, you’re at higher risk of developing it.
One theory is that the brain lowers the pain threshold.
Sensations that weren’t painful before become very painful over time.
Another theory is that the nerves overreact to pain signals.
Healthcare providers don’t fully understand what causes the chronic widespread nature of fibromyalgia pain.
What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain and tenderness in muscles and joints throughout your body.
The pain isn’t in one place, it goes from one place to another.
The main Fibromyalgia symptoms are:
lack of energy
depression or anxiety
memory problems and trouble concentrating ( Fibro-fog)
muscle twitches or cramps
numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Diagnosing and Treating Fibromyalgia
There’s is no specific test for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, so it can take time to be properly diagnosed.
There are 18 trigger points which can help doctors determine a fibromyalgia diagnosis and work towards management strategies.
These trigger points are commonly tender for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
If you’re dealing with tenderness in atleast 11 of these areas, then it’s likely that you have the syndrome.
This areas include shoulders, elbows,neck,hips,lower back, knees etc.
The truth is there is no drug or therapy that treats Fibromyalgia, it can only be managed.
In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care.
The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.
No one treatment works for all symptoms.
Some medications used to manage fibromyalgia include: Pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, tramadol etc. Antidepressants may help ease the pain and the fatigue, Anti-seizure drugs like Pregabalin (Lyrica).
Pregabalin was the first drug approved by the FDA for fibromyalgia treatment.
Healthcare providers also suggest therapy and counseling as they help with the mental and emotional stress associated with Fibromyalgia.
You will also be advised to maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise frequently but in moderation and reduce stress.
Living With Fibromyalgia:
The feelings and pain can be better expressed here below by someone living with fibromyalgia:
“I DON’T LOOK SICK, but I live with an intense, deep exhaustion that makes every movement feel like I’m trying to move at the bottom of the ocean.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but I suffer from an extremely sensitive heat intolerance that makes me feel light headed, ill and feint even in what feels like a normal room temperature to you.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but my nerves often give me “phantom itches” that make me scratch myself raw at an itch that doesn’t actually exist.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but inside, my bones often feel like someone is using a jackhammer on them, especially during a change in weather.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but if anything, even something little, stresses or worries me, my body rebels and symptoms flare up just for the fun of it.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but it’s extremely difficult for me to concentrate on anything, and as a result my memory suffers drastically.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but the simplest tasks can take me 5 times longer and take 5 times as much energy to finish than a “normal” person.
I DON’T LOOK SICK, but you’ll never know the struggle beneath the surface.” ~ Anonymous
Family and Society Support
Family members and friends can serve as the base of a strong fibromyalgia support system.
Some support they can give is practical, such as driving you to a doctor’s appointment or picking up groceries when you’re not feeling well.
Other support can be emotional, such as offering an attentive ear when you need to talk, or sometimes just a welcome distraction from your aches and pains.
Public awareness is necessary for a number of reasons which include: To educate the public as to the truths and myths of fibromyalgia, To advocate for and support the rights of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia, To give a voice to the emotions, experiences, and lifestyle compromises brought on by living with fibromyalgia e.t.c.
To My Fibromyalgia Warriors
As the world marks Fibromyalgia Awareness Day today (Tuesday, May 12, 2020), I wish all fibromyalgia warriors more strength, less flare ups.
Nobody would choose to live a life filled with pain and have to give up so many things they love to do.
Do not let fibro win, hold your butterfly close, hang on tight through the pain for soon it shall pass.
Some days are better than others, You are a strong person who has overcome battles most people can’t imagine, Never forget that.
Hauwa Bashir Sufyan can be reached at [email protected]