Fibromyalgia is now considered to be a lifelong central nervous disorder, which causes chronic pain.
“Fibromyalgia can be thought of both as a discreet disease and also as a final common pathway of pain centralization and chronification. Most people with this condition have lifelong histories of chronic pain throughout their bodies,” Dr. Clauw said.
And the pain can be more than physical.
“It takes away your dreams, your hopes, and your happy moments. It makes loved ones grimace when they see you. It makes friends and family disappear. It isolates you into a tiny box until all that was you no longer remains,” Jenny Schwarz of East Helena, Montana told the National Pain Report.
Schwarz uses art – specifically painting to help manage her illness.
He states that people with fibromyalgia experience pain that comes more from the brain and spinal cord than the locations where their bodies feel the pain. He believes fibromyalgia may be related to how the brain processes pain signals.
Dr. Clauw says physicians should consider a diagnosis of fibromyalgia for people with musculoskeletal pain that is unrelated to an injury. He says treatments with opioids and other drugs do not always work because they do not affect the neurotransmitters in the brain.
“Because pain pathways throughout the body are amplified in fibromyalgia patients, pain can occur anywhere, so chronic headaches, visceral pain and sensory hyper-responsiveness are common in people with this painful condition,” said Clauw.
Darbi Beals Stolk suffers from fibromyalgia. The former registered nurse now coaches people with the disease. She told the National Pain Report that she thinks patients should pay attention to studies like Dr. Clauw’s.
“Educate yourself about your illness and the various studies regarding recovery published by doctors and health experts. Ultimately, recovery is an individual process and you are the only one who can decide what that process looks like, she said.”
Fibromyalgia is the second most common rheumatic disorder behind osteoarthritis and, though still widely misunderstood, is now considered to be a lifelong central nervous system disorder, which is responsible for amplified pain that shoots through the body in those who suffer from it.
“The condition can be hard to diagnose if one isn’t familiar with classic symptoms because there isn’t a single cause and no outward signs,” Dr. Clauw mentioned.