Common Misconceptions About Fibromyalgia

Common Misconceptions About Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog
Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder, partly because its severity varies. Patients experience the same thing in some way, but our individual journeys differ. It’s hard to describe FM to others when we don’t fully understand it ourselves.

Let’s take a closer look at myths about FM

The biggest misconception about FM is probably that the symptoms are “all in your head,” that it’s a psychological issue and not a physical disease. This misconception has been difficult to overcome, but in recent years research has shown that the brain and spinal cord process pain differently in people with FM. We react stronger to touch and pressure, making us highly sensitized to pain. FM is definitely a physiological and neurochemical issue.

Another misconception is that FM affects only older women. Although around 80 percent of patients are women, men and children also get it. My youngest daughter was diagnosed at age 16, but some of  her earliest symptoms appeared at 4.

Still another misconception is that FM doesn’t belong in a category of disease all its own. Doctors used to diagnose fibromyalgia when symptoms failed to fit other conditions. The disease is so multifaceted that I understand why it’s hard for them to assign it to its own category. And it doesn’t help that the condition has been around since the 1800s but has changed names over the years. But FM is not a throw-away diagnosis. The disease is real, painful and debilitating. It’s in a category all its own.

Another misconception is that FM can cause serious damage to our body. It can’t. Although it’s not considered a progressive disease, I have experienced increases in pain and other debilitating symptoms over time, however — and others do, too. Simple things like doing dishes or laundry become harder as the disease saps our energy.

If someone tells you they have a product that will end your fibromyalgia, ask your doctor about the so-called cure. Although many medicines can decrease symptoms, and maybe even put the disease in remission, there has yet to be a cure.

More than 5 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia, and 10 percent, or more than 500,000,  are men. Never think that what you have isn’t real. Remember that one way we can help eliminate these misconceptions is to educate ourselves, then others.

Has this been helpful? If so, share it on social media or with those who need to understand the misconceptions of FM.

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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.

42 comments

  1. Why do doctors say that opioids do not help fibromyalgia pain? That’s all that’s ever helped with this pain. It has made it to where I can function and feel human and without meds I am disabled. I’ve never been addicted to the meds and never taken more than I was prescribed. I am suffering every single day without any pain medication. This isn’t right.

    • jeremy says:

      i agree Caroline i have F.M and have been on pregabalin, morphine, Tramadol’& amitripyline for the pain i have with F,M and i also have osteoarthritis the tablets help me to function the don’t get rid of the pain but with out them i cannot function with out them i am so fed up and depressed the fibro fog is driving me mad at the moment when i am talking with friends i start a conversation and forget what we were talking about. luckily my friends understand that i have fibromyalgia

      • Monica Radtke says:

        Everybody is different & so are the meds. I have been on so many over the years that I couldn’t even list them all. My Fibromyalgia has taken its toll & the medicines just ‘take the edge off’.

      • Bronwyn says:

        Hi Jeremy; I am not sure whether you have heard/trialled Melatonin supplements? However, after doing some research on Fibro, I found that we are missing this / not producing enough of this hormone. Melatonin is the hormone that helps us go through the REM stage of sleep, when produced normally within a healthy body. I commenced this supplement about 2 years ago and since then, I find I do not have the morning Fibro Fog, and get (mostly) a good night’s sleep. I have found though, that there is only one brand of Melatonin tabs that work for me. Others have stated that even adding Cherry Juice to their diet, has helped with this issue, too. (as cherries are high in Melatonin). Good luck, if you decide to trial same.

    • Emma Lawry-Johns says:

      I agree. I’m now on morphine as cocodamol and tramadol stopped working.. it’s the only thing to help me from being completely disabled.

    • Monica Radtke says:

      Doctors don’t get it from the patient side. Every patient is different & what might work for one won’t for another. Addiction is a tricky game because of the difference in patients. Doctors are also walking a fine line with medications & how/when/why they can prescribe them. All I can say is that there isn’t a fail safe method to the medical field & from a patient standpoint that is hard to grasp. Just my two cents.

    • Paula Kean says:

      I am the same, the only medications that have worked for me are opioids…before that I tried everything my doctor would give me and nothing. I have had Fibromyalgia for over 20 years now and I haven’t been able to work for the past 12 years…I do know my body has become dependent on the drug but I have never taken any more than was prescribed. But I can say some days even the opioids aren’t enough. So where do you turn?

  2. Nanny says:

    Caroline, my doctor actually prescribed 2 medicines for me that I don’t think are opioids. The danger there is very real with the epidemic we have of individuals getting hooked on the drug it is easy to understand their concern. However, leaving you in pain is NOT an option. I live with the pain everyday, but the meds do sometimes make it easier. Doesn’t take all the pain away but I can function. I take Flexeril 10 mg 3 times a day. Normally this works just for the muscle spasms we have with the pain. Then I also take Naproxen to help with inflammation. I was also prescribed Cymbalta but I don’t take it or have it filled as if you take them within 30 days you have to continue to take them. Doc says it’s not addicting it’s just my body changing so if I was to ever stop I would be in for a world of hurt. Thus I do not take them. I hope this helps you.

  3. Monica Radtke says:

    The epidemic is those who use for recreational use. We as pain patients don’t typically become addicted in the way others would. Our bodies do change & doctors should be aware of that. I have been on most of the narcotics, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, antiseizure, you name it & about 6 – 8 months into taking a medication I have to change because of the tolerance my body builds up.

  4. Mark Lee says:

    I love this site! I love all your comments! Hydrocodone is the only thing that I have ever taken that directly relieves some of the pain. Enough to keep functioning. I also take Gabapentin and Cymbalta, but have never been able to pinpoint direct improvements for those.
    I don’t like the stigma of taking Opioids, but it helps. I cannot imagine life without them.

  5. Catherine Sheehan says:

    I have only recently become aware of this site. I can not believe how many familiar things I have heard here. I did not realize that there are so many people who are going through the same type of pain I am. Thank you all for just being here. I am in so much pain constantly, sometimes I wonder what why Not just end it but I CAN NOT AND WILL NOT GIVE-UP!! Thanks for listening.

  6. Kara Finn says:

    Due to the opioid crises my doctor just announced he will no longer prescribe opioids for his patients. I think this protects only himself while putting his patients in harm’s way. I suffer from FM as well as chronic pain from two spinal cord surgeries. Going to pain management is not a viable option, financially. I thank you for this site.It is very interesting and informative.

  7. Jenny says:

    This is a great place. I’m sad, but it’s also helpful to read of others either on the same meds, fighting the same fight or having the same symptoms. I’ve been told by 4/5 doctors I have lupus and fibromyalgia along with the migraines and other goodies that we get. I’m on Neurontin, Tramadol, Xanax muscles and anxiety and Percocet, which I fear my doctor will eventually quit prescribing because of him being in a group of doctors. I take slew of other vitamins and meds as well, but those mostly for what’s going on. I was on an antimalarial “fibro fog” so can’t remember but neuro/rheum took me off it. Have been diagnosed since 1989.

  8. Holly Tonero says:

    First time on this site as I was just diagnosed with FMS yesterday. I have been in pain for at least 2 years…but I had chalked it up to pain associated with my job. I am a dog groomer and have been for 15 years, so everything hurts. I was also diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in my hands and off to see a neurologist for possible nerve damage/carpal tunnel in both wrists. I have to admit, while not thrilled to have FMS, I was so happy and relieved to finally have a diagnosis instead of thinking it was all in my head or that I was just really sore. I can’t wait to check out this site and find different ways to get relief. What are the best pain meds to help me, I want to continue working but the pain sometimes is so severe? What else can I do…PT, massage, yoga, accupunture???? Thanks in advance. Holly

    • Linda McCormick says:

      You are the third dog groomer that I know that has fibro. One had to quit grooming except for small yorkies, etc. I have a scottie and she could not manage him because of his size. Two of my neighbors have fibro. I rode horses since I was 3 but had to stop because of surgery which made the fibro worse. I know of at least 4 riding companions (one was a vet) who have fibro – actually 5 including me. Connection with sprays, etc? What do you think?

  9. Chris M says:

    I have tried the supplement 5-HTP after many years of other meds. It has greatly reduced pain and stiffness and has allowed a good night’s sleep. It has also reduced anxiety greatly. The best part – no side effects. I am not symptom free but functional and was recently able to take a trip and walk. Grateful for this suggestion from my doctor.

    • Chris says:

      Yes! My most severe symptoms have been in my feet. In fact, before I was diagnosed with fibro, an Ortho diagnosed me with a heel fracture. Would you believe it was the fibro? MRI showed no fracture after 6 weeks of “no healing.” So, yes, in addition to my legs and other areas, I have a lot of symptoms in my feet and hands.

  10. Hi everybody. I had fibro for thirty years and in the last 3 yrs Dr.’s are realizing the pain I have. I been on fentynal patch for two yrs 25mgs and now with a lot of convincing my dr. that it. doesn’t help anymore he put me on the 50mg patch with vicapro for breakthrough pain and this has helped me a lot more. Plus I used to walk 2-3 miles a day and ride my bike for 2miles every other day. Well now I see I can’t walk that much or ride my bike even with the new dose. But I feel a lot better not walking so much or bike riding so much. I just walk a quarter of a mile and ride my bike twice a week and not that far anymore. I still hav bad days and I’m still depressed over this disease. I usually am tired by 5:00pm and it’s hard to make dinner cause my mind is so tired and mixed up so I do everything in baby steps. Thx everybody for sharing and yor tips

  11. Sheila says:

    My Rheumatogist has prescribed Gabapentin, Tramadol, Cymbalta, BUT has never even mentioned Fibromyalgia! It’s like he knows I have it but won’t tell me. I self-diagnosed myself. I’m glad I found this site!

  12. Suzie says:

    Any one hear of Dr St Amond of UCLA on west coast and his Guaifenisin protocol? He has thousands of patients reporting improvements with their fibro. I tried for a year, but stopped because of other health issues, and did not feel his protocol helped me. You can google if curious.

      • Suzie says:

        I was looking for an alternative to big pharma…I worked with a fibro integrative doc in northern calif who has fibro and is doing really well on the protocol…it is a lifetime commitment. I was worse and had I not had other life threatening complications flare up I might have stuck with it…many people take years to see a difference which is what is so perplexing about it…among other things. I am doing Ketogenic Diet and feel some improvement…

          • Suzie says:

            Keto has been relatively easy, but I spent a year also on Guafinisen which encouraged another version of Keto, low carb to control sugar/insulin. Biggest challenge is being prepared so on the flare filled days when you dont want to cook, pre cooked meals are available. It is a challenge living with someone who still eats sweets, breads in particular. My goal is to get off meds and improve heart related issues. I have lost weight.

  13. Bon Yearwood says:

    How long do flares last with you guys? Do you get chills too, like you have the flu? I made the mistake of going on the treadmil and have been paying for three days now.

    • Robin Dix says:

      It varies Bon, sometimes days, sometimes longer. My rheumatologist told me years ago to start exercising for 2 minutes and each week increase by 2 minutes until I got to 30 minutes – that’s when I’d start building up reserve energy. He also recommended an exercise bike or walking

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