"Although most people associate pain with the illness of Fibromyalgia, this is not the only problem that people with Fibromyalgia suffer, although that in itself is bad enough."
There is an illness that affects many people all over the United States. If you were to pass one of the people with this illness on the street, you would think that they were perfectly healthy. They do not look any different from other people. They have no symptoms which are obvious to the casual observer. They look like any normal person without health problems.
But if you were to look closer, you might notice the person's careworn face, the bags under their eyes thanks to lack of sleep, and the subtle grimace of pain that is on their face.
These are the victims of Fibromyalgia.
What is Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes pain all over the patient's body. Although it's not certain why it is that some people contract Fibromyalgia, there are some theories that there are contributing factors.
- Genetics - Because there is evidence that Fibromyalgia sometimes runs in the family, there may be mutations that cause a person to be susceptible to getting it sometime in life.
- Infections - Another contributing factor is infections and illnesses. Many people who were diagnosed with another disease seem to contract Fibromyalgia in the future
- Emotional or physical trauma - Studies have linked post-traumatic stress disorder to Fibromyalgia. When someone has gone through a lot of stress thanks to an event in his or her life, such as a divorce or a bad accident, this is sometimes something that will trigger Fibromyalgia.
Testing for Fibromyalgia
When a doctor, usually a rheumatologist, suspects that someone may have Fibromyalgia, one of the things that they will do is to run group of blood tests on the person to rule out other things. Even though there isn't a blood test for Fibromyalgia, the symptoms that a person who has Fibromyalgia can be due to other illnesses that should be ruled out before the doctor tests the person for Fibromyalgia.
One of the tests that a doctor is going to do is a simple trigger point test involves the doctor applying pressure on different parts of the patient's body. These areas usually do not cause a person pain when pressure is applied to someone who does not have fibromyalgia, but for someone who has it, it's very painful. There are 18 trigger points bilaterally on the body that a doctor will test, and usually a person who experiences pain or tenderness in at least 11 of the points will classify as a fibromyalgia patient.
Symptoms and Problems Associated With Fibromyalgia
Although most people associate pain with the illness of Fibromyalgia, this is not the only problem that people with Fibromyalgia suffer, although that in itself is bad enough.
One of the things that many people who suffer from Fibromyalgia have is fatigue. This fatigue is due to three main things that Fibromyalgia patients have to deal with on a daily basis.
- Pain - Whether people know it or not, it's very tiring having to deal with pain every day of your life. For a person with Fibromyalgia, the pain that they feel is something that is constantly there. It may lessen and become less noticeable, but a person who has Fibromyalgia hardly ever feels 100% pain free. Living with a chronic condition is very trying on the body and will tire the person out more.
- Restlessness - People who have fibromyalgia very often have trouble sleeping, despite the fact that they are exhausted. They are plagued with restless leg syndrome and they are unable to find a comfortable position to lie in.
- Depression - One of the things that can cause fatigue is depression. The person who is depressed does not feel like doing anything, they often feel like staying in bed, and they have no ambition.
A second item that many people with Fibromyalgia have problems with is cognitive dysfunction, or something that many people who have Fibromyalgia call 'fibro fog'. What this means is that they have trouble remembering things, much like an older person. They have trouble finding the words they want when they are going to say something, they have trouble reading and understanding, and they can space out from time to time. There have been speculations in the medical community that this may be caused by the lack of sleep that a patient with Fibromyalgia is able to get.
Doctors have discovered that many people who have Fibromyalgia also have something known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This disorder causes different kinds of symptoms that vary from person to person. However, some of the most common symptoms that a patient with Fibromyalgia may have are:
- Cramping or pain in the abdomen
- Feeling bloated
- Constipation or diarrhea - this can alternate in some patients
- Mucus in stool
Facts about Fibromyalgia
- There is no cure. Although there are things that a patient with Fibromyalgia can do to lessen their symptoms, they will be living with this condition for the rest of their life unless a cure is found.
- It is a real disease as recognized by the Centers for Disease Control.
- Although it's an illness that is characteristically found in women, some men are diagnosed with it.
Medications often used for Fibromyalgia
- Pain medication - There are varying degrees of pain medication that is used for Fibromyalgia because there are varying degrees of pain that patients with Fibromyalgia have.
- Anti-depressants - Anti-depressants are often used for Fibromyalgia treatment for two reasons. One, they help the person with Fibromyalgia sleep, and two, to treat the person's depression.
- Lyrica - Lyrica is the first medication that has been approved by the FDA for Fibromyalgia. Even though it's been approved for Fibromyalgia as well as other conditions, the advertisements and the website for Lyrica have said that it's not for everyone and that it can cause allergic reactions as well as some side affects, including swelling, weight gain, dizziness, and others.
Many of the patients who are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia find that it's difficult to work a regular job, although they wish to have a normal life and be able to have gainful employment. But there are quite a few reasons why Fibromyalgia patients find that it's hard to work.
- Constant pain - One of the biggest reasons that it's hard for patients with Fibromyalgia to work is that they are always in pain. There are different degrees of pain that a patient with Fibromyalgia will feel, but the pain is always there, and there's no telling how the patient is going to feel when they wake up in the morning.
- Cognitive problems - Because people with Fibromyalgia have trouble remembering things and concentrating, it makes it hard to have any kind of job. Most jobs require being able to remember or concentrate, either to deal with customers, to count money, or to fill orders.
- Fatigue - Weariness and fatigue are two trademarks of Fibromyalgia and they are two items that make it hard to work. Sleepless, restless nights are items that plague most everyone that has Fibromyalgia.
Because many patients with the illness find that it's hard to work, they will usually try for long-term disability. But many times, they are rejected due to the fact that some disability companies don't believe that Fibromyalgia is a real disease.
But there are some tips that patients with Fibromyalgia can use in order to increase their chances of getting long-term disability.
- Keep appointments - One of the biggest things that patients need to do is to keep their appointments. This is going to show the insurance company that they are truly serious about their condition. If an insurance company sees a patient missing appointments or canceling them, they will find it hard to believe that the person is as sick as they claim to be.
- Keep a diary - It's important for patients to keep a diary of how the illness is making them feel. The diary should include how the illness affects their everyday life, including the fun things that the patient plans to do. The disability company needs to know that illness doesn't just affect the patient's ability to work; it affects their ability to do the things that they love.
- Have a good doctor - Another important thing to have is a doctor who understands the illness and believes that it's a real illness. Even though it's an illness that is recognized by the CDC, that doesn't mean that all of the doctors recognize it as such.
- Speak to a psychiatrist - Since many patients who have Fibromyalgia are depressed due to their constant pain, speaking to a psychiatrist is a good idea. It will show the disability company that the patient is seriously depressed and trying to get help.
- Have a Disability Insurance lawyer - Legal representation is something that a patient who is trying to get long-term disability will need. An experienced lawyer is going to be able to give the patient the advice that they will need and stand up for them in court. Even though cost may be a consideration for some patients, many lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means they will not be paid unless the case is won for the patient. Gregory Dell is a nationwide disability attorney and he has represented numerous claimants suffering with fibromyalgia. Mr. Dell's website has a lot of information about fibromyalgia and disability insurance claims.
Even though Fibromyalgia is thought of as a pain condition, there is so much more that is involved. Patients with Fibromyalgia suffer digestive problems, cognitive problems, depression, and fatigue. They wake up every day not knowing how they are going to feel that day. It interrupts the patient's idea of a normal life, it frustrates them, and it upsets them because not only are they unable to work but they can't do anything fun either.
Patients with Fibromyalgia are often frustrated, depressed, and angry because they have this disease. They are not being lazy when they are trying to get long-term disability. They are simply trying to get some money so that they can take care of their family and have money to make ends meet while at the same time dealing with a painful and debilitating disease.