You may not see it in their outward appearance, but your neighbor, co-worker or friend may be a Fibromyalgia sufferer. This is a condition that can rob people of their ability to fully participate in everyday life while facing a tough and silent struggle.
When we cut our finger, we run for a band-aid, stub our toe, and we let out a big ouch! But those affected by FM cope with symptoms that can happen without warning.
What are the Stats for FM?
The National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) estimates it affects about 10 million Americans. It affects more women, but it can also occur in men and children. FM suffers may look healthy from the outside, but they work diligently to keep their condition and symptoms at bay while trying to maintain normal activities.
What is FM?
FM is a chronic pain disorder condition that causes aches and pain all over the body. There is no known cure for it, but medical treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms and improving function according to NFA. FM can occur following a physical trauma (i.e. acute illness or injury) which then acts as a “trigger” in the development of FM. Other “triggers” can include physical and psychological forms of stress. The NFA also denotes that recent research has suggested a strong genetic basis for FM. The disorder is often seen in families, among siblings or mothers and their children.
Chronic widespread pain is a primary symptom there are others that may include:
- Extreme tiredness, called fatigue, that does not get better with rest
- Cognitive and memory problems (i.e. “fibro fog”)
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood problems
- Morning fatigue
- Muscle fatigue
- Temperature sensitivity
- Depression or anxiety
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
What causes symptom flare-ups?
FM triggers can happen without warning, but certain events may cause symptoms to appear:
- Hormonal changes during a menstrual cycle or pregnancy
- Stress: long-term stress may raise your risk of getting FM as well as short-term stresses (work, the death of a loved one)
- Changes in the weather- some women report pain when the temp drops from warm to cold or on hot, humid days.
In the past FM was an “invisible disorder” category and most people were not aware of what it was, who had it or what to do about it. Public and medical awareness has improved over the last ten years with the help of greater medical research and education.
Steps for treatment
- Talk with your physician regarding any symptoms you are experiencing
- Talk therapy-counseling sessions with a trained counselor to learn different techniques to help control your pain
- At home, you can help relieve your symptoms by getting enough sleep
- Get regular physical activity
- Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga and massage
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.