WHEN Lady Gaga announced on Twitter that she suffers from fibromyalgia, she was met with an abundance of well wishes. Not only did fans feel for the ‘Poker Face’ star, they could relate — many gushed with gratitude that Lady Gaga stepped up to raise awareness for a disease that is all too often misunderstood, misdiagnosed or just missed altogether.
Fibromyalgia is the second most common condition affecting your bones and muscles. Its classic symptoms are widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue.
There’s no cure. But a combination of medication, exercise, managing your stress and healthy habits may ease your symptoms enough that you can live a normal, active life.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but some think it’s a problem with how your brain and spinal cord process pain signals from your nerves.
We do know certain things suggest you’re more likely to get it:
- You’re a woman.
- You have another painful disease, such as arthritis, or an infection.
- You have a mood disorder, like anxiety or depression.
- You were physically or emotionally abused or have PTSD.
- You rarely exercise.
- Other family members have it.
Simply put, you ache all over. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain, burning, twitching, or tightness
- Low pain threshold or tender points
- Draining fatigue
- Trouble concentrating and remembering, called “fibro fog”
- Insomnia or not sleeping well
- Feeling nervous, worried, or depressed
Fibromyalgia can feel similar to osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. But rather than hurting in a specific area, the pain and stiffness could be throughout your body.
Other fibro symptoms can include:
- Belly pain, bloating, queasiness, constipation, and diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Dry mouth, nose, and eyes
- Sensitivity to cold, heat, light, or sound
- Peeing more often
- Numbness or tingling in your face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Your doctor will examine you and ask you about your past medical issues and about other close family members.
There’s no test that can tell you that you have fibromyalgia. Instead, because the symptoms are so similar to other conditions, your doctor will want to rule out illnesses such as an underactive thyroid, different types of arthritis, and lupus. So you may get blood tests to check hormone levels and signs of inflammation, as well as X-rays.