Fibromyalgia Awareness: When It's Time to See a Doctor

Photo by @TheAsiaJade (IG)
Photo by @TheAsiaJade (IG)

In 1998, May 12 was declared National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day with the goal of replacing stigma with the education that can empower those suffering from the disease to fight for the help they need. More often than not, fibromyalgia is looked over or misdiagnosed and only about 2% of people are diagnosed with it. In this article, we'll explore the basics in order to help identify when you should seek help.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a pattern of chronic pain, fatigue, joint pain, muscle stiffness, and/or mental fog. While rheumatologists and neurologists are usually who see fibromyalgia patients, no specialty doctor exists. There is not a known cure for fibromyalgia, however creating healthy habits such as a proper diet, exercise, and meditation can help.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The precise cause for fibromyalgia is unknown but there are some similarities between patients, such as:

  • being a woman

  • suffering from anxiety or depression

  • suffering from arthritis or untreated infections

  • experiencing abuse or PTSD

  • not having a consistent exercise routine

  • genetics

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

If you're experiencing a pattern of pain all over your body, that is the most common sign that you may have fibromyalgia. Other symptoms include extremely low pain tolerance, constantly forgetting things or having trouble concentrating, insomnia, muscle pain or spasms, consistently low energy, and/or feeling on edge, worried, nervous, or depressed.

Other symptoms can include headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, and stomach issues.

How will the doctor know to diagnose me with fibromyalgia?

Simply put, a fibromyalgia diagnosis is a matter of ruling out other diseases like hypothyroidism, lupus, and arthritis.

What medical treatments are available for fibromyalgia?

Lyrica, Savella, and Cymbalta are common medical drugs used to treat fibromyalgia. Some doctors may also prescribe antidepressants, pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or sleeping aids.

Are there any natural remedies for fibromyalgia?

Massage therapy, acupuncture, and regular exercise can help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Counseling can also help with the mental and emotional complications that can arise with fibromyalgia.