Well I thought I would write a blog about Fibromyalgia. Last year I went to see my GP. As I hobbled into his office with tears in my eyes, I sat down and explained that I had had enough of all this unexplained pain, aches, tinnitus, pins and needles etc. He asked if I had heard of fibromyalgia. I had as my nan had it. I didn’t know anything about it but had heard of it. Anyway, he gave me some pain relief, referred me to a rheumatologist, and told me to google it.
So I went home and googled it. All I can say is wow. It was like everything fell into place. For years I’ve been going to the doctors complaining about something that hurts for no reason, or persistent aches and lots of other things. I was like putting the last puzzle piece into place. It felt like a weight had been lifted. The rheumatologist confirmed the diagnosis.
When you repeatedly go to the doctor and they just fob you off with, ”it’s growing pains”, ”it’s in your head”, you start to believe it. You totally lose your personality, your life, the fun you had, the fun you were. Your friends disappear. You’re on your own. You end up collecting cats. The crazy cat lady starts. It begins. You have no one. You’re alone.
I went back to my GP a week later and showed him a print out I had done with everything I have highlighted. He was amazing, and so supportive. We discussed it a bit and he changed my meds. Medication was going to be a case of trial and error.
I will cut & paste information from NHS Choices website. There is quite a bit to read, but worth it.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages carried around the body.
It’s also suggested that some people are more likely to develop fibromyalgia because of genes inherited from their parents.
In many cases, the condition appears to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, such as:
- an injury or infection
- giving birth
- having an operation
- the breakdown of a relationship
- the death of a loved one
- traumatic event
Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:
- increased sensitivity to pain
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- muscle stiffness
- difficulty sleeping
- problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”) – such as problems with memory and concentration
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
Fibromyalgia has many symptoms that tend to vary from person to person. The main symptom is widespread pain.
There may be periods when your symptoms get better or worse, depending on factors such as your stress levels, changes in the weather and how physically active you are.
If you think you have fibromyalgia, visit your GP. Treatment is available to help ease some of the symptoms, although it is unlikely they will ever disappear completely.
The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are outlined below.
If you have fibromyalgia, one of the main symptoms is likely to be widespread pain. This may be felt throughout your body, but could be worse in particular areas, such as your back or neck. The pain is likely to be continuous, although it may be better or more severe at different times.
The pain could feel like an ache, a burning sensation, or a sharp, stabbing pain.
Fibromyalgia can make you extremely sensitive to pain all over your body, and you may find that even the slightest touch is painful. If you hurt yourself – for example, if you stub your toe – the pain may continue for much longer than it normally would.
You may hear the condition described in the following medical terms:
- hyperalgesia – when you are extremely sensitive to pain
- allodynia – when you feel pain from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch
You may also be sensitive to things such as smoke, certain foods and bright lights. Being exposed to something you are sensitive to can cause your other fibromyalgia symptoms to flare up.
Fibromyalgia can make you feel stiff. The stiffness may be most severe when you have been in the same position for a long period of time – for example, when you first wake up in the morning.
It can also cause your muscles to spasm, which is when they contract (squeeze) tightly and painfully.
Fibromyalgia can cause fatigue (extreme tiredness). This can range from a mild, tired feeling to the exhaustion often experienced during a flu-like illness.
Severe fatigue may come on suddenly and can drain you of all your energy. If this occurs, you may feel too tired to do anything at all.
Poor sleep quality
Fibromyalgia can affect your sleep. You may often wake up tired, even when you have had plenty of sleep. This is because the condition can sometimes prevent you from sleeping deeply enough to refresh you properly. You may hear this described as “non-restorative sleep”.
Cognitive problems (‘fibro-fog’)
Cognitive problems are issues related to mental processes, such as thinking and learning. If you have fibromyalgia, you may have:
- trouble remembering and learning new things
- problems with attention and concentration
- slowed or confused speech
If fibromyalgia has caused you to experience pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders, you may also have frequentheadaches. These can vary from being mild headaches to severemigraines and could also involve other symptoms, such as nausea (feeling sick).
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Some people with fibromyalgia also develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common digestive condition that causes pain and bloating in your stomach. It can also lead to constipation or diarrhoea.
There are a number of other symptoms people with fibromyalgia sometimes experience, including:
- dizziness and clumsiness
- feeling too hot or too cold – this is because you’re not able to regulate your body temperature properly
- restless legs syndrome (an overwhelming urge to move your legs)
- tingling, numbness, prickling or burning sensations in your hands and feet (paraesthesia)
- in women, unusually painful periods
In some cases, having the condition can lead to depression. This is because fibromyalgia can be difficult to deal with, and low levels of certain hormones associated with the condition can make you prone to developing depression.
Depression can cause many symptoms, including:
- constantly feeling low
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- losing interest in the things you usually enjoy
If you think you may be depressed, it’s important to get help from your GP or your fibromyalgia healthcare professional if you have been seeing one.
Next review due: 05/02/2016
Who is affected?
Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, although it affects around seven times as many women as men. The condition typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly.
It’s not clear how many people are affected by fibromyalgia, although it’s thought to be a common condition. Estimates suggest the condition may affect nearly 1 in 20 people globally.
One of the main reasons it’s not clear how many people are affected is because fibromyalgia can be a difficult condition to diagnose. There is no specific test for the condition, and the symptoms can be similar to a number of other conditions.
Read more about diagnosing fibromyalgia.
How fibromyalgia is treated
There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments to help relieve some of the symptoms and make the condition easier to live with.
Treatment tends to be a combination of:
- medication – such as antidepressants and painkillers
- talking therapies – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling
- lifestyle changes – such as exercise programmes and relaxation techniques
Exercise in particular has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including helping to reduce pain.
I know there is a lot there, but it’s an interesting read none the less. I get pretty much every symptom. It depends on the day. But as it’s an invisible illness, people think I’m lying.
I think I’ve had it mildly for many of my early 20’s. I think it gradually got worse as I got older. I think it started with my parents splitting up. If I as able to show you my sickness records from work, I was off quite a lot, and towards the end of my NHS career, I was off more than I was there, but that was due to other reasons. I also believe that the traumatic event of being bullied in the workplace, and losing the mother figure all at the same time, caused some level of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder, my GP agrees). I think this caused a trigger to my fibromyalgia and made it worse.
I don’t have any reason to be depressed, if I really think about it, and yet I am. Even though I’m aware of it, I can’t stop it. I feel totally helpless 99% of the time. The tinnitus is unbearable, I react the same way as superman when kryptonite is near him.
I just want to make people aware of the invisible illness’ that are around. This is just one of them.
Please reblog, I don’t ask for anything from you guys, but getting this around will help. The more aware of this syndrome, the better. Just because you see me walking to the shop once a day and looking Okay, does not mean I’m not in pain, or that it’s taken all day to get the strength to get up without feeling like you’re going to snap, fall or pass out from the pain.
Life’s hard anyway, let alone with an illness. Share, like, reblog & post.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, any questions ask away. I also have a Facebook page for anyone that wishes to ‘like’ it and join in the community of chronic pain.
You can also follow me on twitter too;