Pain all over your body and fatigue like no other. Feeling tired even when you just woke up or didn’t do any intense activity. Sleep is a challenge for you as well because you either find it hard to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night a couple of times. You find it hard to concentrate or easily forgets things.
All of those are just a few of the challenges that come with the disorder called fibromyalgia. If you look at the definition of this illness, you’ll see that it is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. While these are hallmark symptoms of fibromyalgia, it can be different from patient to patient. Aside from that, like any other chronic illnesses, you may experience good days and bad days. Good days meaning the symptoms are still there but it’s manageable enough for you to do your daily routine. And then there are bad days which people experience what they call flare ups where the symptoms and pain are just too much that you can get up and move at all.
Moreover, aside from the mentioned classic signs of this disorder, it’s possible you may experience other symptoms like sensitivity to light, smell, and/or touch, headaches, irritable bowel movements, stiff joints and muscles in the morning, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, pelvic and urinary problems, cold or flu-like symptoms, skin problems, depression, and anxiety.
Fibromyalgia is not only a frustrating condition but can also be a very draining one. You feel imprisoned in your own body. What’s even worse is that there are still some misconceptions circulating about this condition. While not surprising at all due to how complex it can be, still must have been terrible for those suffering from it. Here are some of those which will hopefully shed better light regarding the condition.
1. Fibromyalgia Is Just Having Low Pain Tolerance
One of the dominant symptoms of fibromyalgia is widespread musculoskeletal pain. And if you know someone suffering from this, you probably heard them complain about it the most aside from the fatigue. But, some people, even medical professionals who aren’t familiar with it, actually assume that it’s basically having very low tolerance to pain. In short, they think patients experience normal aches and pain but it’s just that they can’t handle it well.
But what they don’t realize is that fibromyalgia pain is an amplified version of those normal aches and pain. Brain scans show that stimuli such as cold and pressure light up the pain centers of the fibromyalgia brain like crazy which proves that the patient is experiencing intense pain from something that wouldn’t hurt healthy people.
2. Fibromyalgia Is Made Up, Hypochondria, Or A Psychiatric Illness
With fibromyalgia, blood-test won’t show anything and won’t damage tissues or other structures despite all the pain and other symptoms that it brings to a patient. This is why even some medical professionals have a hard time understanding or acknowledging that this illness is real. But more than that, due to its mood-related symptoms which can be alleviated with antidepressants, others have formed this conviction that it’s simply a form of depression.
However, studies show multiple unique physiological abnormalities in people with this condition. They’re in the cells, the nervous system, and the hormones. Antidepressants are a common fibromyalgia treatment because they alter the function of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain.) The same neurotransmitters may be involved in depression, but they’re also involved in multiple non-psychological functions, including sleep, memory, cognitive ability and some aspects of muscle function.
Fibromyalgia is considered a neurological condition, meaning it’s in the same category as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. It’s also worth noting that, before their physical causes were fully understood, both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s were surrounded by myths similar to those now misapplied to fibromyalgia.
3. People With This Condition Just Have To Exercise More
Yes, exercise does make fibromyalgia better. But what many people don’t know is that if you force a patient to work out beyond his tolerance, it will cause a flare up or severe symptoms.
So if you’re thinking that someone who is suffering from fibromyalgia is just being lazy or is living a sedentary lifestyle, try to be tactful and think again.
Fibromyalgia patients who have been working with their doctor or therapists know that appropriate exercise, intense and frequency wise, is the way to go. Fibromyalgia patients should listen to their body and know when to slow down as well. Not giving your body time off from training can over exhaust your muscles and just worsen their condition. For someone with minor symptoms who haven’t been sick for very long, appropriate exercise could mean an hour of bike riding. For a severe, long-term case, it might be walking to the mailbox and back, or a few gentle yoga stretches.
4. Fibromyalgia Is An Old Woman’s Disease
While the majority of people who are diagnosed with this illness are post-menopausal women, this doesn’t mean men or younger individuals don’t develop this condition. This is very important to remember because a lot of people don’t get a diagnosis for years simply because they don’t look like someone who would get it. A man may simply be left undiagnosed, and a child may be told it’s “just growing pains.”
This kind of thinking can be harmful to those suffering from it, especially those who don’t fit the old lady profile, because they may be seen as weak by other people or be misdiagnosed by doctors. This is actually the reason why men with fibromyalgia, who actually make up about 10% of diagnosed cases, hide it even from family and friends. While kids or those in their early 20’s don’t get the right treatment for them because their condition gets dismissed as something else.
If it hasn’t been reiterated enough, the symptoms, as well as, the severity of fibromyalgia may vary from person to person. So as this is a syndrome, finding a treatment that may work for patients can be difficult and may take time as it may take a lot of trial and error. It’s also important to know that, there isn’t a cure yet so all that can be done is to manage the symptoms. This is why it’s imperative to work with a doctor who specializes in this condition to devise a combination of treatments that suits the patient’s condition best.
But one way that people are finding to be effective in relieving their chronic pain is through chiropractic care. That’s because it helps reduce the pain by keeping the spine in alignment, opens the range of motion since properly aligned spine allows the joints and other areas of the body to work more efficiently, and strengthens bones and muscles because when the back is aligned that’s less stress and extra work for the bones, muscles, and joints which results in being able to continue living a daily life without much pain or restriction.
Even if you have already consulted your primary health care provider, seeing a chiropractor here in Singapore would also benefit you. Because they may see something that your doctor has missed since chronic pain is usually due to musculoskeletal issues which chiropractors specialize in. A chiropractic doctor will conduct a physical examination in order to arrive with an accurate diagnosis of your pain. Once a chiropractor knows your what your pain condition is, he will develop an individualized treatment plan that he’ll explain and suggest to you to help make your life more manageable.