Fibromyalgia is a chronic (long-term) condition which is widely misunderstood. Often referred to as the “invisible illness”, the origins of Fibromyalgia are not known but over recent years thankfully this has now been recognised as a “real” illness. The symptoms are wide and varied but in general, sufferers will experience some if not all of the following symptoms:
- widespread pain, particularly at 18 specific trigger sites
- increased sensitivity to pain and even touch
- overwhelming tiredness
- tight muscles and stiffness, similar to flu-like symptoms
- sleeping issues, invariably waking up still tired and not refreshed
- problems with memory and concentration (known as “fibro-fog”)
- headaches, often accompanied with neck and shoulder stiffness
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome often accompanies Fibromyalgia
- depression, easy to understand when you are suffering with an invisible illness
Symptoms can vary enormously between sufferers, many can function on a day to day basis but others at times of flare up can be confined to bed.
Nobody is immune from Fibromyalgia and anybody can develop the condition. It appears to affect more women than men and can typically develop between the ages of 30 and 50 however, children and the elderly can also be affected. Whilst there are no specific statistics, it estimated that nearly 1 in 20 people may be suffering with Fibromyalgia. There is still no dedicated test for the condition and it’s symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses and conditions.
Currently there is no cure for Fibromyalgia and treatment at the moment appears to be limited to antidepressants and painkillers. Talking therapies can also be helpful however, in my experience lifestyle changes have proved most beneficial.