The Chronic Pain of Fibromyalgia

Last week I began blogging on chronic pain and living with the results of it. I told you I would next tackle the newest catch-all diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, so here we go!

Because words matter, I want to be sure we are of the same mind when it comes to what Fibromyalgia is. It is important that we are operating under the same definition of the term so that no misunderstanding occurs. Fibromyalgia is a term that the medical profession created based on the reported symptoms of the sufferer. There are no tests for Fibromyalgia. Any blood testing that is done is to rule out diseases that have the same symptoms as Fibro does.

The term "Algia" means pain. Anytime there is pain we assume there is a problem, and this is a normal assumption. "Fibro" is a reference to the connective tissues of the body, and "My" means muscle. So "FibroMy" means connective tissue muscle. Putting the three terms together we get a term that means connective tissue (and) muscle pain. Women are more affected than men by Fibromyalgia.

The difficulty with Fibromyalgia is the pain is of a chronic nature. Some people have pain all day every day, others have it for intense periods and then are relatively pain-free. Another group of people will only have flare ups of pain that seem to come from nowhere.

A very interesting thing about Fibromyalgia is that there is no disease process associated with it. In other words, it doesn't cause permanent damage to any part of the body. It is something that is felt or experienced with no diagnosable, scientifically proven medical cause.

Certainly, when a person is experiencing chronic pain of any kind a medical exam is critical. The symptoms that accompany Fibromyalgia can also be present in the disease process so it is not safe to just assume that your symptoms are not a part of a larger medical problem. Many people are "diagnosed" with Fibromyalgia because tests have proven there is no disease present within the body's systems that would provide a medical reason for the chronic pain they are experiencing.

There is currently no proven medical theory as to where it comes from. There is no proven evidence of disease in the body of someone who has Fibromyalgia. In one sense it is comforting to know that the pain is not due to cancer or RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) or some other disease. On the other hand, because there is no medical proof of a disease many people are referred to psychiatrists for treatment of the by-products of living with chronic pain such as fear, anxiety, depression, and anger.

As I researched numerous materials and website in preparation for writing this blog series I was struck as I came across the same information over and over. Many of the same theories for the causes for Fibro are held for depression, anxiety, and what is called chemical imbalance in the brain. If you have read this blog for any length of time you would know that as of this writing there is no medically verifiable (scientific) proof for any of the stuff you hear on television or read in a magazine about what these "mental illnesses" really are or how to treat them. It is all theoretical and (gee what a surprise) they all involve taking drugs to "manage the symptoms!" Never mind that the science is junk, the studies are based on flawed data sets, and the pharmaceutical companies are making money hand over fist on the misery of people who are desperate for help... It was no shock to me that big pharma has its hands in the "treatment" of Fibromyalgia too. 

You won't hear me say that your body doesn't hurt, or that it is all in your head. What I am saying is that I am not sure it is wise to ingest drugs that affect your brain when there is nothing medically wrong with you. In addition, none of the treatments for this problem have been proven to be beneficial in every case. The decision to take medication for Fibro is one only you can make. My goal in this series of posts is going to be how you can live and live well in spite of the pain you suffer with.

I have a personal stake in this- I am a person who lives with chronic pain, and if Fibromyalgia exists, I have it. Since I contracted Lyme Disease (medically verified) a few years ago, the pain has become more intense so believe me when I say I understand what you live with. That is my way of asking you to save the hate mail and not to accuse me of not understanding how much you hurt.

Even though there is no outward sign of disease you may be in a place where your life has become dominated by the pain you live with. Your friends and family may not understand, you may believe there is no hope for you. I am sure not going to tell you to just "buck up" or to get over it. Each one who suffers with chronic pain addresses it differently. What works for me may not work for you, so again, I am going to help you to see how you can live well and glorify God in spite of the pain you feel.

Stay tuned, tomorrow we begin the journey.