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.
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.