Here is an article I found from Sciencedaily.com that gives some understanding to those who have suffered with the debilitating pain of Fibromyalgia:
Fibromyalgia: The Misunderstood Disease
ScienceDaily (June 2, 2007)
“Fibromyalgia is a condition that’s characterized by widespread pain involving the muscles, the joints, and in fact, any area of the body,” explains Daniel Clauw, M.D., director of the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. “In addition to pain, individuals with fibromyalgia often experience sleep fatigue, difficulties with sleep, and difficulties with memory and concentration, among other symptoms.”
Josephine’s symptoms included extreme fatigue, recurring headaches, chest pains, stomach and intestinal problems, muscle fatigue and weakness, restricted mobility, and anxiety. At her worst point, Josephine was bed-ridden and medicated to the point that she wasn’t functioning due to the pain.
However, there is hope. “Fibromyalgia is gaining respect in both the scientific and the lay community because of all the research that’s been conducted – first, showing that it’s a real disease, and second, showing that there are drugs that specifically work to treat fibromyalgia,” Clauw says. “Our group and others at the University of Michigan have been very involved in looking at the underlying mechanisms of fibromyalgia.”
Clauw and his colleagues use a technique called functional imaging, which allows scientists to look at how different areas of the brain function when people are given painful stimuli. What they have found is that for the same amount of damage or inflammation in the peripheral tissues, a fibromyalgia patient would feel significantly more pain than the average person. Patients with fibromyalgia can also experience pain throughout their entire body even without any damage or inflammation of the peripheral tissues.
“We think that one of the primary abnormalities in fibromyalgia is an imbalance between the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that affect pain sensitivity,” Clauw says. With this knowledge, new treatments are being developed to combat the condition’s symptoms. “Although right now there are no drugs approved to treat fibromyalgia, within three years it its likely that there will be three, if not four, drugs specifically approved to treat the condition,” he says.
These drugs fall into two general classes. One class raises the levels of neurotransmitters that normally stop the spread of pain, while another class lowers the levels of neurotransmitters that normally increase the spread of pain.
The American College of Rheumatology estimates that about 3 percent of Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, but Clauw notes that this may not accurately reflect the number of people with this condition. “It’s widely agreed that their definition is very restrictive. In fact, it’s probably more like 5 or 6 percent of Americans,” he says.
There are other misunderstandings about fibromyalgia. Some physicians believe that its symptoms are all psychological. “The doctors say, ‘Well it’s all in your head, you just need to get some extra rest and you’ll be fine, toughen up,’” Josephine remembers. Another misconception about the disease is that it is caused by inflammation in the muscles. Doctors now know that neither of these theories is true. “This is not an inflammatory disorder and this is not a primary psychological condition,” Clauw clarifies. “Pain is always a subjective matter, but everything that we can measure about the pain in fibromyalgia shows that it is real.”
Unfortunately, patients are often misdiagnosed as having disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, or irritable bowel syndrome. Fibromyalgia has no definitive diagnosis, so doctors must rely on a patient’s medical history and symptoms when diagnosing the illness, excluding conditions that might cause similar amounts of widespread pain.
The condition’s cause is still unknown, although it is probably a combination of genetics and environment. “A person is about eight times more likely to develop fibromyalgia if one of their relatives has it,” says Clauw. “But there are also certain environmental triggers. For example, people develop fibromyalgia after motor vehicle accidents, or after certain types of infections or biological stress,” he continues. Although the disease is more common in women, there are no real demographic factors that can predict its development.
Clauw recommends that anyone who experiences pain or fatigue that is severe enough to inhibit day to day functioning seek medical attention, even if the symptoms have only lasted a couple of days. “It’s better to get medical attention and appropriate treatment early for this condition,” he says.
As for Josephine, maintaining a positive attitude and acknowledging and accepting the disease has helped her live a more normal life. “I know that I will always have this disease, but now I see myself as a survivor,” she says.
Read the full article here:
My 2 cents:
Personally I don’t believe I will have this illness forever, I will never, ever give up on finding an answer! I am a very determined person and I will keep researching until I find the answer for me and you too!
I am not sure about the drug therapy they are suggesting, it is one scientists theory who could have ties to the drug companies,. I haven’t researched them yet but I included this article for the understanding that it showed for Fibromyalgia sufferers and the humiliation we go through.
I still wonder if this were a male dominated illness it would have been accepted quicker and have been recognized sooner. Hmm, aren’t most doctors male?
I am not prejudice, I love men. I have just incurred a lot of attitude and disbelief that has made me feel bad . I am not one to whine either. It is like I got the flu and it stayed to terrorize my body over and over and over. Seriously though, autoimmune has been recognized for 100 years but it is just starting to get attention? That says a lot right there.
My personal opinion is that is why we have such a hard time being believed. Seriously, over 21 years for me and I still see the skepticism. If we look at autoimmune diseases, more people (mostly women) suffer in silence because they aren’t believed. I have been humiliated and infuriated numerous times throughout this medical maze I have endured and it has all been from male doctors.
Some physicians believe that its symptoms are all psychological. ‘Well it’s all in your head, you just need to get some extra rest and you’ll be fine, toughen up.’” It is humiliating to be treated this way when you are in real, severe pain. It is like having a knife in your side and docs looking over his glasses saying, “oh, it’s not too bad, just take an aspirin and you’ll be fine!”
I am a silent sufferer, I don’t complain much and I can still function in a lot of pain. Some people can make a mountain out of a mole hill with a little pain and some of us can endure a mountain of pain and be as quiet as a mouse. Most women I know who have Fibromyalgia or autoimmune disease do have unsatisfactory care. The article above says there is no inflammation with Fibromyalgia but many say there is, the studies are very confusing.
Here are some statistics that perhaps show autoimmune diseases have been neglected and that shows they are predominantly a woman’s disease.
Why Are Autoimmune Diseases So Prevalent in Women?
Even though women’s greater susceptibility to autoimmune diseases has been recognized for more than 100 years, only recently has attention focused on this topic.
Women and Autoimmune Diseases
DeLisa Fairweather* and Noel R. Rose*
*Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Autoimmune diseases affect approximately 8% of the population, 78% of whom are women. The reasons for the high prevalence in women are unknown, but circumstantial evidence links autoimmune diseases with preceding infections
What do you think?