Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes intense widespread body pain, hypersensitivity, chronic fatigue and sleep problems. It occurs most commonly in women but can affect people of any gender or age. Approximately 10 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult because there is no definitive way to “prove” someone has the disorder. Many struggle to obtain a diagnosis because fibromyalgia is a controversial issue in the medical world, because many doctors still believe that it is not a real disorder.
Current treatment primarily centers on various types of medication to help manage the pain. Additionally, sleep is extremely important and necessary to combat fatigue and some alternative therapies such as massage or acupuncture may provide some pain relief to individuals with fibromyalgia. The disorder is believed to be progressive, as many report that their symptoms change and/or worsen over time. Unfortunately, most fibromyalgia patients may only be able to focus on minimizing their pain or making their symptoms more tolerable. There is currently no cure.
People with fibromyalgia experience near-constant pain and fatigue that can make it extremely difficult to carry on with their everyday routine. However, fibromyalgia is more than just pain and fatigue as it can affect other systems in the body. It can impair cognitive functioning and cause memory and concentration problems, which many refer to as the “fibro fog.” Often the disorder is accompanied by anxiety and/or depression. Many people struggle with both the chronic and invisible natures of this disorder.
Several institutes and foundations sponsor research so that more can be understood about fibromyalgia. Other resources are available to provide information and support.