Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects about 4 million American adults, causing symptoms that range from mild and bothersome to severe and debilitating. A neurological condition, fibromyalgiam happens when your peripheral nerves and your brain interpret pain and other stimuli much more intensely.
Although millions of men and women suffer from fibromyalgia, many people don’t understand the condition, and as a result, myths and misinformation persist. Not only can that affect how others feel about people who have the condition, but it can also prevent some people from getting treatment that can help them feel better,
At Vulcan Pain Management in Birmingham, Alabama, Victor Mendoza, MD, uses his skills as a pain management specialist to help people with fibromyalgia get the information and treatment they need to understand their condition and how they can manage it. In this post, he dispels some of the more common myths, so patients and others can learn the facts about this relatively common pain condition.
For years, fibromyalgia sufferers were plagued by an impression that the condition wasn’t “real” — that people suffering from its symptoms only imagined them or that people had a reduced tolerance for pain. Worse, this particular myth was held by many in the medical community making it very hard to get treatment.
Today, doctors and researchers recognize fibromyalgia as a medical disorder with physical symptoms that need medical care and treatment. Unfortunately, the impression among the public is taking a bit longer to change. Recognizing common myths and dispelling them helps people suffering from the condition get the support they need.
The chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia can affect for your mental health. Many people suffering from chronic pain also develop depression or anxiety (or both). But fibromyalgia is not a mental health condition. It’s a physical problem that interferes with normal pain signaling and causes real physical symptoms.
Many people think that because fibromyalgia causes widespread pain that can affect your joints, it’s another type of arthritis. But that’s not true. While arthritis causes joint inflammation and joint damage, fibromyalgia causes pain in other areas, as well, and it doesn’t damage joint structures.
Interestingly, fibromyalgia does often occur in people who also have rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, potentially implicating immune system irregularities in the development of fibromyalgia, as well.
Fibromyalgia tends to occur more often in women, but it affects men, too. The CDC says women have double the risk compared to men. In addition to gender, other risk factors include post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, viral infections, family history, and chronic stress.
Fibromyalgia can cause your muscles to feel sore, similar to how they feel after a day of strenuous activity. But unlike muscle strain that can be relieved with some rest, taking it easy won’t eliminate fibromyalgia pain.
Many people with fibromyalgia have tender spots in different locations on the body. These spots tend to feel sore or irritated when touched or gently pressed. While these points are common among many people with fibromyalgia, some patients have widespread pain without tender spots. Today, doctors look at a patient’s complete symptoms and the severity of those symptoms, when making a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan.
While treating fibromyalgia can be challenging, Dr. Mendoza combines treatment options to create a custom approach based on each patient’s unique symptoms. Depending on your needs, he may recommend physical therapy, lifestyle changes, behavioral therapy, stress management, or medication.
If you have fibromyalgia or you’re suffering from its symptoms, Dr. Mendoza can help. To learn more, call 205-258-7246 or book an appointment online at Vulcan Pain Management today.