When you research Fibromyalgia, the most common articles that will appear are on pain relief; avoiding certain foods, exercises, or even wearable devices – giving anyone an insight into what Fibromyalgia involves.
It’s a condition of chronic pain, sensitivity to pain and fatigue. There is no cure, only treatment to help relieve the symptoms.
Janine Clayton, of West Bromwich, was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2008, but believes she probably had had it for a number of years before suggesting the condition to her GP as a possible cause of the chronic pain.
She said; “Fibromyalgia has a range of symptoms – not always the same for every sufferer. The main symptom is widespread pain and stiffness that can occur in any part of the body. Sometimes it will be in one area, or it seems as though your whole body hurts.
“I had been visiting my GP for a while with chronic pain and I mentioned I had read an article in a magazine about Fibro – it sounded how I felt. He said he had been thinking it might be that and sent me to see a rheumatologist at the local hospital who confirmed it.”
Other symptoms, listed on the NHS website, can include muscle stiffness and irritable bowel syndrome.
“Fatigue and sleep problems are also usual. Pain stops sleep and the less sleep you have the worse the pain is. Other problems are headaches, oversensitivity to light or sounds, and ‘fibro fog’ when you find it hard to concentrate or think clearly,” Janine states.
The invisible condition was first recognised in 1990 and is thought to affect 1 in 20 people in some way, though it is more likely to affect women than men.
The exact cause of it is unknown, though an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, genes or stressful events are thought to be likely key triggers.
“The pain appears regardless of having done any exercise or activity, although repetitive movements or doing too much causes pain. Fibro also makes you more sensitive to pain so even a minor knock can cause extreme pain.”
Those with mild symptoms are able to lead normal lives with the help of pain relief medication and other techniques. However, those with more severe symptoms are often left unable to work or lead a regular social life.
“A lot of people suffer from depression as constant pain, feeling isolated and not being able to do the things you used to can be very hard to accept.”
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, though GPs will attempt to relieve the symptoms by prescribing pain relief and sleep medication.
Janine added; “Strong painkillers and sleeping tablets obviously come with problems too and many people try alternative therapies like hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, yoga and exercise etc.
“There is a very good charity, Fibromyalgia Action UK (FMA UK) where they have forums online that offer a lot of support from other people with Fibro.”
As well as support, FMA UK’s site holds a lot of information about the condition such as relief recommendations and ways to cope.
“The diagnosis hasn’t changed my life to any great degree, but it does confirm there actually IS something wrong with you.
“One of the major problems with Fibro is that you don’t really look ill and certainly not as bad as you feel, so people find it hard to believe that you are ill. You can be feeling quite well one day and go out, but the next day be hardly able to function.
“Ultimately I think you need to gather as much information as you can and fine a strategy that works for you as everyone is affected differently.”