Often described as living with severe flu symptoms every day, fibromyalgia can take a toll on your physical and mental health and do a number on your relationships and career as well. Adding insult to injury, fibromyalgia doesn’t have a specific diagnostic test, manifests differently from patient to patient, and has no known cause or cure.
All of these unexplainable variables make fibromyalgia ripe for misunderstandings. But, despite the confusion that swirls about fibromyalgia, there are some solid medical facts that can help dispel the myths.
Our team here at CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center works with fibromyalgia sufferers every day, and we believe that getting the right information is one of the biggest keys to getting better. Here are some of the most common myths about fibromyalgia and the facts to set the record straight.
Myth 1: Fibromyalgia isn’t real
The perception of some people in the nonmedical community is that fibromyalgia isn’t real. Because many of the symptoms can’t be seen or verified, some people often dismiss the condition as a myth.
But, if you suffer from fibromyalgia, you know it’s not in your head — and so do we. Fibromyalgia is a legitimate syndrome — a collection of symptoms — that is caused by a chronic disorder of the central nervous system.
While no single test can point to fibromyalgia, there is a standard protocol for arriving at a diagnosis. We start by ruling out other possible culprits, such as rheumatic diseases or neurological disorders. Then we take a detailed look at all of your symptoms to determine if you have fibromyalgia. Even though every patient can suffer differently, there are telltale signs that, when viewed together, can make a compelling case for fibromyalgia.
Myth 2: It’s not fibromyalgia; it’s just arthritis
Even though both fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis can cause aches, pains, and exhaustion, they’re completely different conditions. Fibromyalgia is a neurological syndrome that affects the nerves, and rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints.
Myth 3: Men don’t get fibromyalgia
About 80-90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women ages 45-55, which is why it’s often referred to as a woman’s disease. But, men get fibromyalgia, too, albeit in fewer numbers. The risk factors for both genders are the same:
- History of rheumatoid disorders, such as lupus
- Depression or mood disorders
- Family history of fibromyalgia
Studies show that men who suffer from fibromyalgia, however, tend to live with it rather than seek treatment for it, which means that it goes largely undiagnosed in the male population.
Myth 4: Since there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, nothing can help
While it’s true that there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, there are many treatments that can mitigate its symptoms. Another myth is that exercise can exacerbate the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. However, the opposite is true. Exercise, especially aerobic activities, can bring significant relief.
Medications targeting specific symptoms can also help, including antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers.
Your mind can also play a key factor in your fibromyalgia treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques can all help you understand what triggers your symptoms, how your body perceives pain, and how you can respond.
Now that you know a little more about fibromyalgia, you can see how important it is to debunk myths that may get in the way of treating your unique symptoms. To learn more about fibromyalgia and the most effective treatments, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today.