You cannot sit in front of the computer for one hour at a stretch! And you keep forgetting things. You do not look sick at all and you are labeled LAZY! But, in reality, you are a victim of Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS).
There are millions suffering from this life-altering condition. And, as on date, there is absolutely no cure!
More than the symptoms, people with Fibromyalgia suffer from the ignorance and indifference. Since, there's a lack of awareness, people do not relate the symptoms with this debilitating condition. The lack of awareness affects all the three categories -
PATIENTS: They do not understand the symptoms well and consult a doctor only when the condition starts severely affecting their work and personal life.
DOCTORS: Many doctors from various specialties are not aware about the condition. Add to it the symptoms being similar to several other illnesses, and it is often misdiagnosed.
NON-PATIENTS: Family, friends and colleagues of the patient have never even heard about Fibromyalgia. They do not believe the patient and think he/she is making up excuses. They push the patient beyond his/her ability that further worsens the symptoms and add to the emotional trauma.
So what exactly is Fibromyalgia? If we go by the book definition, fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain, fatigue and tenderness in localized areas. However, it is much more than just all-over-the-body pain and hence it is considered as a syndrome.
Fibromyalgia is also classified as a Central Nervous System (CNS) condition. Patients have a supersensitive CNS and it is associated with an imbalance in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hence, a tap on the shoulder or a firm handshake can be very painful to an FM patient.
What are the symptoms?
Fibromyalgia brings with it immense problems ranging from fibro fog (cognitive dysfunction, in simple terms problems with memory and concentration), stiffness, depression and anxiety to hypersensitivity to light, heat and sound, dryness in mouth, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, bowel and bladder abnormalities, reduced ability to exercise... to name a ‘few’!
People with Fibromyalgia experience excruciating pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender points.
Fibromyalgia affects an estimated:
• 10 million people in the US
• 3 - 6% of the world population
• And in India… nobody actually knows!
Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed. Since there are no specific laboratory tests to diagnose it, fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion.
How does Fibromyalgia alter life:
• Many people are unable to work full time.
• Household chores, even the smallest ones, become a challenge.
• Travelling becomes very difficult.
• Memory problems affect work and personal life.
• Inability to indulge in the small joys of life.
People with Fibromyalgia are suffering every single day. There is an urgent need for understanding and awareness. Though the patients might not be cured, but at least they can manage their life better. So when you hear someone complaining about the above symptoms, please trust them and suggest a consultation with a rheumatologist without any delay.
If you know someone with Fibromyalgia:
• Hear out the person
• Believe in the person
• Stay informed about the condition
• Help the person join a support group
Please stay informed and spread the world. Together, we can help fibromyalgia patients have a better life.
For information about the condition, stay updated with the Fibromyalgia Awareness Blog www.fibromyalgiaawareness.com (patient initiative). It includes Information, News & Updates, Tips, Motivational Posters and much more. The blog's Facebook page has over 600 members who constantly share information and support each other.