[Kealie Mardell | Media Coordinator]
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, thought to affect over 5 million people in America alone, and up to 8% of the population worldwide. It’s more common in women but can affect anyone at any age. Chances are you didn’t know that it was currently awareness week, or maybe you hadn’t even heard of fibromyalgia, because it’s very misunderstood and underrepresented.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia can affect everyone differently. The wide range of symptoms and associated conditions can make it very difficult to diagnose. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Widespread pain
- Stiffness or tenderness
- Cognitive difficulty
The symptoms of #fibromyalgia are chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and heightened pain in response to tactile pressure
— Fix Fibromyalgia (@FixFibromyalgia) September 8, 2015
These symptoms can be exacerbated by different things, such as stress, over-exertion or secondary illness. Many patients can experience ‘flares’ or ‘crashes’, which is an increase in symptoms and can be extremely debilitating. This can last anywhere from days to weeks depending on the severity.
What treatment is available?
There is currently no known cause or cure for fibromyalgia. Lifestyle management can play a key role in patient care, and your doctor may try different medications or therapies aimed at easing symptoms. Due to the fluctuating and variable nature of the illness treatment plans can be different for each individual, and what helps one patient could make another worse. It’s important to be aware that the pain and fatigue experienced by someone with a chronic condition are not the same as you might have experienced. Patients live with these symptoms on a daily basis and they should not be undermined.
What can you do to help?
One of the biggest challenges facing fibromyalgia patients is the lack of awareness and understanding. When you’re fighting a battle against your own body every day, you don’t want to fight the outside world as well, just to make them believe that your condition is real.
— FibroMen (@FibroMen_Org) September 8, 2015
In order to be a better ally for people with fibromyalgia, the most important thing is to believe them. Don’t judge someone based on their appearance or make assumptions about their physical ability. If someone tells you that they are unable to do something because of their fibromyalgia, or any other invisible disability, take their word for it. They know their body better than you do. So whether you’re a spoonie or a supporter, keep fighting, and keep raising awareness!
Share your fibromyalgia support with us on Twitter @TridentMediaUK #FibromyalgiaAwarenessWeek!