While you may have heard of Fibromyalgia before, do you really know what it is? And, did you know that it affects more women each year than breast cancer? In fact, fibromyalgia plagues millions of women worldwide! Some celebrities also suffer from Fibromyalgia including Lady Gaga and Sinead O’Conner. This common and complex disorder is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain as well as fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. Experts believe that this condition amplifies sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
The talented singer-songwriter Lady Gaga recently announced on Twitter that she will be opening up about her life with the painful condition in an upcoming documentary titled “Five Foot Two.” The documentary is set to debut on Netflix on Sept. 22 of this year. “In our documentary, the #chronicillness #chronic pain I deal w/ is #Fibromyalgia I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it,” Gaga wrote on Twitter. So what do you need to know about this debilitating disorder that affects so many?
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) September 12, 2017
Well, many doctors believe that Fibromyalgia is triggered by significant physical and/or mental trauma. These traumas could be something like a surgery, an infection, a divorce, a car accident or even a sexual assault. When the body perceives these threats, it then goes into fight-or-flight mode. “Normally, the sympathetic nervous system turns on to prepare the body for a stressful situation, tightening the muscles and connective tissue to increase their strength, then shutting off when the threat is gone,” Ginevra Liptan, M.D. and author of The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor, said.
And, the condition does not discriminate. People from all races, cultures, gender, and backgrounds can suffer from fibromyalgia. Other risk factors for this condition include age (most people are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia during middle age and are more likely to have the condition as they grow older), having lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, family history, repetitive injuries, illness such as infection, and suffering from traumatic or stressful events. The signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia to look out for include pain and stiffness all over the body, fatigue and tiredness, depression and anxiety, sleep problems, problems with thinking, memory or concentration, and headaches, including migraines. People with Fibromyalgia may also experience Tingling or numbness in hands and feet pain in their face or jaw, including disorders like TMJ, digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and even irritable bowel syndrome (also known as IBS).
If you do end up being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, there is no cure, but there are treatment options to help manage the disease. It can take some experimenting to find the best treatment strategy, but many patients are able to utilize a combination of antidepressants, pain relievers, and anti-seizure drugs to help ease their symptoms. People who suffer from Fibromyalgia may also find lifestyle modifications such as exercise, improved sleep habits and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to be helpful.
Share this story to let others know about this condition and encourage them to seek help if they exhibit these signs.