You or someone you know may be familiar with these symptoms. The sudden feeling of tiredness and fatigue for no reason. Aches and pains not due to physical exertion. Finding it difficult to work or to socialize. If you have these symptoms, you might have a disease known as fibromyalgia.
Many individuals with these symptoms scratch their heads. They wonder what is wrong with them. How is it that these symptoms seem to be in the background all the time? They are not brought about by specific periods of illnesses or stress.
Some individuals find these symptoms so overwhelming that they do not leave the house. This, of course, impacts their mood. They sometimes find themselves experiencing depression. What could the problem be?
An Insidious Disease Fibromyalgia
The CDC defines it as “ a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress.”
This is still quite a mysterious disease. We still do not know what causes it. We do know that there are triggers that may bring about its symptoms. The NHS wrote, “It’s not clear why some people develop fibromyalgia. The exact cause is unknown, but it’s likely that a number of factors are involved.”
What are the potential triggers for this disease? Studies have indicated that they may include sickness, the death of a loved one, or childbirth. Some patients with fibromyalgia do not report any obvious triggers at all.
Because of our poor understanding of the disease, there is no consensus on the best way to treat it. The Mayo Clinic recommends pain medication to relieve symptoms of pain. In addition, it is very important that physicians manage the patient’s stress levels. This may involve seeing a counsellor. It may also entail speaking to one’s boss about reducing some of the workload.
Sleep is another key factor in fighting this disease. Insomnia and fibromyalgia are a vicious pair — they aggravate each other. Physicians usually ensure that patients with fibromyalgia are able to get enough sleep. This is for them to feel fresh the next morning.
In other words, current therapies for fibromyalgia treat the symptoms of the disease and not its root causes. Some patients get better by just living a more active lifestyle (although the pain can sometimes get in the way). WebMD wrote, “Aerobic exercise (running, jogging), weight training, water exercise, and flexibility exercises may all help.”
If you have a loved one experiencing fibromyalgia, the best way you can help is to offer support. This is a disease that does not manifest itself in physically obvious ways. Hence, patients may find themselves being poorly understood.
Therefore, one of the best ways to help people with fibromyalgia is to offer a listening ear. It is also a great idea to engage with them in doing activities that are not too difficult for the patient. Remember — patients can get better, so there is always reason for hope.
- CDC (2020). What is fibromyalgia?
- NHS (2022). Fibromyalgia.
- Mayo Clinic (2022). Fibromyalgia.
- WebMD (2020) Fibromyalgia and exercise.