Fibromyalgia and you.
Did you know that this disease is often referred to as
THE INVISIBLE DISEASE?
Read what one sufferer had to say about it.
"Having chronic pain means many things change, and a lot of them are "invisible". Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand even a little about chronic pain and it's effects, and those that think they know are actually misinformed.
In the spirit of informing those that wish to understand...
These are the things I would like you to understand about me before you judge me: Please understand that being sick doesn't mean I'm not still human. I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion, and if you visit, sometimes I probably don't seem like much fun to be around, but i'm still me - stuck inside this body. I still worry about school, my family, my friends, and most of the time - I'd still like to hear you talk about yours, too.
Please understand the difference between "happy" and "healthy". When you've got the flu, you probably feel miserable with it, but I've been sick for years. I can't be miserable all the time. In fact, I work hard at not being miserable. So, if you're talking to me and I sound happy, it means I am happy. That's all. It doesn't mean I'm not in a lot of pain, or extremely tired, or that I'm getting better, or any of those things. Please don't say, "Oh, you're sounding better!" or "But you look so healthy!" I am merely coping. I am sounding happy and trying to look normal. If you want to comment on that, you're welcome. Please understand that being able to stand up for ten minutes doesn't necessarily mean that I can stand up for twenty minutes or an hour. Just because I managed to stand up for thirty minutes yesterday doesn't mean that I can do the same today. With a lot of diseases you're either paralyzed, or you can move. With this one, it gets more confusing everyday. It can be like a yo-yo. I never know from day to day, how am I going to feel when I wake up. In most cases, I never know from minute to minute. That is one of the hardest and most frustrating components of chronic pain.
Please repeat the above paragraph substituting standing with: "sitting", "walking", thinking", "concentrating", "being sociable", and so on...it applies to everything. That's what chronic pain does to you.
If I seem touchy, it's probably because I am - it's not how I try to be. As a matter of fact, I try very hard to be normal. I hope you will try to understand. I have been, and am still, going through a lot. Chronic pain is hard for you to understand unless you have had it. It wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. It is exhausting and exasperating. If I had to describe it to you, I would tell you to imagine a really, really bad ALL OVER sunburn where every crack and crevice of your body has been burnt. Imagine being hit over and over by a car or professional football player. It feels like you are always wearing clothes that are way too tight for you - your bra is digging into the soft tissue of your back, the underwire constantly poking at your skin. Imagine, never taking those tight clothes that are pressing up against your bruised ribs and sunburnt skin off. I ask you to bear with me - I know that you cannot literally understand my situation unless you have been in my shoes, but hopefully this image will give you a peek into what it's like to live like someone with chronic pain.
Almost all the time, I know that I am doing my best to cope with this, and live my life to the best of my ability. In many ways, I depend on you - people who are not sick. I need you to visit me, to lift my spirits when I am too sick to go out...sometimes I need you to help me with everyday tasks like shopping, cooking, or cleaning. I may need you to take me to the doctor, or to the store. You are my link to normalcy. You can help me keep in touch with the parts of my life that I miss and yearn to get back to - I appreciate you taking the time to understand me and so many sufferers like me. This disease is real and the next time someone you know talks about someone wIth Fibro, I hope you look at them and you tell them that IT IS REAL and that they're not making a mountain out of a mole hill."
What is Fibromyalgia?
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms. The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. Like arthritis, however, fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities. Also like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain.
WHAT CAUSES FIBROMYALGIA?
The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries or illness. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously. Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain. Some scientists speculate that a person’s genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. There have already been several genes identified that occur more commonly in fibromyalgia patients, and NIAMS-supported researchers are currently looking at other possibilities.
HOW IS FIBROMYALGIA DIAGNOSED?
Research shows that people with fibromyalgia typically see many doctors before receiving the diagnosis. One reason for this may be that pain and fatigue, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, overlap with those of many other conditions. Therefore, doctors often have to rule out other potential causes of these symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Another reason is that there are currently no diagnostic laboratory tests for fibromyalgia; standard laboratory tests fail to reveal a physiologic reason for pain. Because there is no generally accepted, objective test for fibromyalgia, some doctors unfortunately may conclude a patient’s pain is not real, or they may tell the patient there is little they can do. A doctor familiar with fibromyalgia, however, can make a diagnosis based on criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR): a history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months, and other general physical symptoms including fatigue, waking unrefreshed, and cognitive (memory or thought) problems. Pain is considered widespread when it affects all four quadrants of the body, meaning it must be felt on both the left and right sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. ACR also has designated 18 sites on the body as possible tender points as seen in the picture to the right.
WILL FIBROMYALGIA GET BETTER WITH TIME?
Will fibromyalgia get better with time?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts a long time—possibly a lifetime. However, it may be comforting to know that fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease. It is never fatal, and it will not cause damage to the joints, muscles, or internal organs. In many people, the condition does improve over time.
What can I do to FEEL BETTER?
Many people with fibromyalgia report varying degrees of success with complementary and alternative therapies, including massage, movement therapies (such as Pilates and the Feldenkrais method), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and various herbs and dietary supplements for different fibromyalgia symptoms as well as analgesics and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Although some of these supplements are being studied for fibromyalgia, there is little, if any, scientific proof yet that they help. FDA does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, so information about side effects, proper dosage, and the amount of a preparation’s active ingredient may not be well known. If you are using or would like to try a complementary or alternative therapy, you should first speak with your doctor, who may know more about the therapy’s effectiveness, as well as whether it is safe to try in combination with your medications. Besides taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, there are many things you can do to minimize the impact of fibromyalgia on your life. These include:
Getting enough sleep: Getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Even so, many people with fibromyalgia have problems such as pain, restless legs syndrome, or brainwave irregularities that interfere with restful sleep. It is important to discuss any sleep problems with your doctor, who can prescribe or recommend treatment for them.
Tips for Good Sleep:
Keep regular sleep habits. Try to get to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day—even on weekends and vacations.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. If consumed too close to bedtime, the caffeine in coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and some medications can keep you from sleeping or sleeping soundly. Even though it can make you feel sleepy, drinking alcohol around bedtime also can disturb sleep.
Time your exercise. Regular daytime exercise can improve nighttime sleep. But avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime, which actually can be stimulating, keeping you awake.
Avoid daytime naps. Sleeping in the afternoon can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you feel you cannot get by without a nap, set an alarm for 1 hour. When it goes off, get up and start moving.
Reserve your bed for sleeping. Watching the late news, reading a suspense novel, or working on your laptop in bed can stimulate you, making it hard to sleep.
Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
Avoid liquids and spicy meals before bed. Heartburn and latenight trips to the bathroom are not conducive to good sleep.
Wind down before bed. Avoid working right up to bedtime. Do relaxing activities, such as listening to soft music or taking a warm bath, that get you ready to sleep. (A warm bath also may soothe aching muscles.)
Exercising: Although pain and fatigue may make exercise and daily activities difficult, it is crucial to be as physically active as possible. Research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. People who have too much pain or fatigue to do vigorous exercise should begin with walking or other gentle exercise and build their endurance and intensity slowly.
Making changes at work: Most people with fibromyalgia continue to work, but they may have to make big changes to do so. For example, some people cut down the number of hours they work, switch to a less demanding job, or adapt a current job. If you face obstacles at work, such as an uncomfortable desk chair that leaves your back aching or difficulty lifting heavy boxes or files, your employer may make adaptations that will enable you to keep your job. An occupational therapist can help you design a more comfortable workstation or find more efficient and less painful ways to lift.
Eating well: Although some people with fibromyalgia report feeling better when they eat or avoid certain foods, no specific diet has been proven to influence fibromyalgia. Of course, it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will proper nutrition give you more energy and make you generally feel better, it will also help you avoid other health problems.
IF FIBROMYALGIA HAS MANY CAUSES AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT CAUSED IT IN ME, WILL THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIET, EXERCISE, AND SLEEP WORK FOR ME?
Yes. By receiving chiropractic treatments, you will be addressing the causes that have to do with the nervous system. This directly and indirectly affects the metabolic pathways and the hormonal pathways. Chiropractic manipulations create harmony inside the body and that harmony decreases stress and helps you sleep better. The diet recommendations will help your nervous system function better, decrease stress, provide the nutrients your body needs for every cell to work properly and assist the body in healing. Certain vitamins, nutrients, and herbs can promote healing and decrease infections. The exercise program is simple and helps prevent possible set backs you may endure during the course of your treatment. All in all, when you provide everything the body needs, that's when the body's innate intelligence takes over and starts the healing process.
How we'll help.
OUR STAFF WILL COMBINE CHIROPRACTIC MEDICINE WITH MASSAGE THERAPY, DIET, AND EXERCISE TO ALLEVIATE YOUR HEADACHE AND MORE SEVERE MIGRAINE SYMPTOMS AND HELP REDUCE THE PAIN YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ON A DAILY BASIS.