Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Last Saturday, May 12th, was the 20th annual Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. In true me fashion, I’m a couple of days late but wanted to acknowledge the day with a short post.

The main thing that I personally would like people to be aware of, and I think many people with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) would agree, is that FMS is a REAL medical condition, not a “wastebasket” diagnosis or all in your head as some people (doctors included) suggest.

Yes, FMS is an invisible illness without a specific lab marker to confirm it (yet), so I understand that people without personal experience of chronic illness may have a difficult time wrapping their head around its existence. However, FMS does have diagnostic criteria and physicians use this in conjunction with ruling out other diseases with overlapping symptoms to make a diagnosis.

There have also been multiple observed differences in biological function is people with FMS, although they are not currently being used as diagnostics for the condition. Using fMRI, researchers have found differences in brain activity in response to pain. Higher levels of substance P, a peptide involved in increased pain sensation, has also been detected in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with FMS.

You don’t have to fully understand something in order to practice compassion toward a loved one or coworker dealing with this diagnosis. Sometimes just asking what their experience with FMS is like and what helps them feel better can go a long way in showing someone that you support them. For the person with FMS, not having to struggle to convince the people in their lives that it’s a real and chronic condition makes life a bit easier. Dealing with a chronic illness is tough enough on its own. 

What's one thing you'd like people to know about living with fibromyalgia?

If you’d like to learn more about fibromyalgia I’d suggest checking out these links:

Fibromyalgia-- Harvard Medical School

Common misconceptions about fibromyalgia

Chronic Pain - Is it All in Their Head? - Daniel J. Clauw M.D

The Hidden Reality of a Fibro Warrior