If you’re a guy whose mom, sister, wife, or girlfriend has fibromyalgia, please share this information. For all my fibro ladies, I hope you find this helpful for your next mammogram.
Mammograms may give us peace of mind by showing that they are clear of anomalies and that we are good to go for another year. If something is detected, hopefully, it will be caught early. But women with fibromyalgia have additional concerns, including pain from compression, especially for those of us with fibrocystic breasts. Following are some of the useful tips I’ve learned. You and your physician may have other ideas.
It’s always more comforting if someone goes with you. If your doctor advises, you may want to take pain medication before you go.
Try to schedule the mammogram at a time of day when you usually feel best.
Ask if the plate is padded, which will help especially if you’re sensitive to hard or cold surfaces.
If your center offers only thin johnnies, bring a warm robe from home. Check around to find a place you think will make you most comfortable.
To settle anxiety during the procedure, take nice, deep breaths between scans.
Some fibromyalgia patients experience flare-ups or shoulder and arm pain after mammograms. My technologists have been fabulous always, because I have frozen shoulder in both shoulders and my range of motion is limited. Techs are good at helping me with my limitations, while still obtaining clear pictures.
Stephen Ross, MD, chief medical officer at Solis Mammography, offers nine additional tips to help you have a better experience:
- Schedule your annual mammogram one week after your menstrual cycle has ended, as breasts seem to be less tender then.
- Communicate your health issues and concerns to the technologist doing the mammogram. Let her know your fears and any physical limitations you have. Be proactive and as assertive as you need to be.
- The low temperature of mammogram screening rooms may be a concern. When scheduling a mammogram appointment, ask if a robe or a dressing cape can be provided. If not, ask if you can bring a robe from home. Because heat bothers me more, I prefer the cooler temperature.
- Ask to be seated during your mammogram if you think it will be more comfortable.
- If the mammography tech’s hands are chilly, ask her to wear gloves or use hand warmers.
- Explain to the technologist that longer than normal breaks between compressions may be needed to recover. Techs are understanding and should be accommodating.
- Stress can be an insidious culprit to fibromyalgia triggers. Try to relax, take deep breaths, and think about the peace of mind that will come after the mammogram. Remember, accurate information empowers you.
- Most of us find the atmosphere to be a key factor in our stress level. Be sure to choose a non-clinical, warm, and welcoming center for your mammogram screening. Do your research.
- Finally, bring a friend, or better yet, have the friend get her mammogram, too. Bringing a friend is almost always more comforting and can offer a pleasant distraction.
Please don’t skip your mammogram because you’re concerned about the pain. It might just save your life. Do all you can to be as comfortable as possible during and after the screening. Use heat or ice and perhaps you pain meds in the following days.
If you have other suggestions, please share them in the comments section so that others may benefit, too.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.