Fibromyalgia is a disease that affects roughly 5 million Americans; that is one in 50 Americans or 2% of the population. It is the second most common musculoskeletal ailment, after osteoarthritis and 90% of Fibromyalgia fighters are female. Years ago, most doctors did not know what the disease was or how to treat it. They mostly determined that it was a mental condition, not a physical sickness. Many people are not aware of this syndrome and have no knowledge of the agony, discouragement, and anxiety this disease produces in its patients. Raising awareness about Fibromyalgia and its effects on individual’s lives, families, and the health care system is the only way to boost support for Fibro research to find a cause and a cure.
What is Fibromyalgia?
What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)? Simply put, FMS is a musculoskeletal disease that is characterized by wide spread pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, anxiety, cognitive issues, sleep problems, and a multitude of other symptoms that vary between individual patients. Fibromyalgia is seven times more common in women than in men and it most commonly affects women in their childbearing years – but men and women of all ages can get FMS.
Those with a family member with Fibromyalgia are more likely to develop the disease. Fibromyalgia occurs along with other rheumatic diseases such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis 25-65% of the time. Sixty percent of Fibro patients are diagnosed in their 30’s & 40’s, another 35% are diagnosed in their 20’s or between 50-65years of age.
Fibromyalgia has been around for ages but has only recently been properly studied and diagnosed. Here are some interesting facts about this elusive syndrome.
- A well-documented study showed as many as 28% of children born to a parent with fibromyalgia will eventually develop the disease.
- There are at least 47 reported secondary causes of Fibromyalgia.
- More than 50% of Fibromyalgia fighters report a traumatic event as the initiator of symptoms.
- 40% of Fibromyalgia cases appear spontaneously with no obvious trigger ever found.
- Factors that patients perceived as worsening their fibromyalgia symptoms were emotional distress (83%), weather changes (80%), sleeping problems (79%), strenuous activity (70%), mental stress (68%), worrying (60%), car travel (57%), family conflicts (52%), physical injuries (50%) and physical inactivity (50%).
- 50% of people with Fibromyalgia report difficulty performing daily activities
- 30-40% have to stop working or change jobs
Besides getting properly diagnosed and treated by a good doctor familiar with FMS, one of the most important things a patient can do for their health is to build a support system. A good support system will give the patient the confidence and security they need in order to discover the treatments that work for them and how to overcome the obstacles of this disease. Support groups are instrumental to provide support and help with many needs. A support group will allow patients to learn first-hand from other patients the treatments that work for them. They can also develop relationships with those that understand their dilemma and “have been there and done that.” Family and friends can offer support when flare-ups occur. Spouses and children can help with chores and duties when fibromyalgia wants to aggravate. All these sources of support are beneficial as a patient finds their way to the new normal with fibromyalgia.