Even though we can’t always see the pain, it’s important to spread awareness about the effects of fibromyalgia–both on a personal and national level. When you suffer from fibromyalgia, it’s easy to suffer in silence. Fibromyalgia is often called an invisible illness because there are few outward symptoms. Worse, the condition itself is little understood. While medical professionals now have developed guidelines to help them diagnose somebody with fibromyalgia, since we currently don’t understand exactly what causes it, it can be difficult to treat effectively.
Who suffers from fibromyalgia?
Approximately 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, with women disproportionately affected by it as compared to men. According to an article on The Wall Street Journal, the “prevalence of any chronic pain condition was 45% among women, versus 31% among men.”
Unfortunately, women suffer more from fibromyalgia than men. Approximately 75-90% of all people with fibromyalgia are women. They are 1.6% more likely than men to have it. Over 12 million people in the U.S. suffer from fibromyalgia and its cost–from missed day of work, lost productivity, and medical costs–may be as high as $14 billion every year.
Moreso, since this is a difficult condition both to diagnose and treat, the health care costs for somebody with fibromyalgia can be three times greater than individuals with other pain conditions, often due to the time and energy needed for diagnosis.
Women are also more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, neuropathic pain, and osteoarthritis. Women have also been shown to be more sensitive to pain, with lower pain thresholds and tolerances.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is difficult to classify, because there are no identifiable causes of the disorder. It is characterized by widespread and chronic pain along with:
- Sleep issues
- Cognitive problems
According to the American College of Rheumatology’s guidelines, fibromyalgia is diagnosed when a patient has:
- A history of widespread bodily pain that has lasted for more than three months
- Pain that is located in all four quadrants of the body
- Pain in 11 out of 18 tender points on the body where muscles attach to joints, such as the shoulder blades or knees
- Clinical symptoms that include fatigue, stiffness, depression, anxiety, tenderness, and sleep issues
How can you treat fibromyalgia?
Once a person has a diagnosis, there are some treatment methods that can help. Often, a team of medical professionals will orchestrate treatment plans aimed at improving the overall quality of life of the person with fibromyalgia.
These fibromyalgia treatment plans often include the use of:
- Medications, such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-depressants
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Alternative practices, such as yoga and biofeedback
- Interventional procedures
Fibromyalgia doesn’t have to be invisible. By making a point to discuss your pain with your doctor and those around you, you can begin to spread awareness about this difficult condition. Contact us today for more help with your pain.