The challenging task of living with fibromyalgia …


The pilgrimage through several medical offices in search of relief of suffering has been the life of people affected by this disease that the medicine does not know.

Evidence that still shows nothing causes people with fibromyalgia to be labeled “exaggerated and often lazy or depressive.” Although it may be related to anxiety and depression, it is not known what happened first.

It is more common in women of childbearing age (but it can affect any gender or age) and is estimated to affect 2 to 10% of the world’s population.

Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Morgan Freeman, affected by the disease, have given several strong testimonies about their suffering.

In the 2017 documentary “Five Foot Two,” Gaga talks about her difficulty finding treatment and techniques to control symptoms. In the same year, the celebrity canceled her participation in Rock in Rio, supposedly because of the severe pain caused by fibromyalgia.

Freeman, in 2017, in a controversial statement, talks about the legalization of drugs to control the disease.

The fact is that this is a cruel disease, the diagnosis is only clinical and, therefore, the diagnosis depends on the experience of the doctor consulted. With variable symptoms, it can affect people of the same family and, therefore, there may be a genetic component in its genesis.

It is known that the brain (and perhaps the skin’s receptors) interpret the stimuli received (a simple touch on the body, such as a hug, for example) in an altered way, increasing its sensitivity, causing pain and discomfort. What is not known is why. Then the image is activated.

What are the symptoms?

The predominant symptom is pain, which can be muscular, in the joints or tendons and is usually accompanied by extreme fatigue (the individual often wakes up tired), which can last for months.

This can also be accompanied by sleep disorders (almost 90% of the time), such as insomnia and apnea (bad nights can make the condition worse) and often intensify with stress and colder temperatures.

The typical sleep defect is becoming superficial and / or interrupted, so phrases such as “I get tired more than I slept” and “it seems that a truck ran over me” is very common in the office. Another discomfort that often appears at night is the so-called restless legs syndrome, in which it is necessary to stretch or move them all the time to relieve discomfort.

Headaches and cognitive problems such as memory impairment and difficulty concentrating are also quite frequent complaints. In addition to numbness and tingling in the hands and feet and even cardiac symptoms such as palpitations, which may be present.

Not to mention gastrointestinal disorders such as cramping and even frequent diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome) ..

How to deal with?

Acceptance of the disease by the patient himself and those who live with him become important challenges in everyday life. As there is no classic pattern of disease, there is no recommended and recommended drug treatment pattern for everyone.

No, the disease is not a psychological disorder, although emotional disorders are almost always present due to the difficult task of living with it, without prospects of cure and with an exacerbated degree of suffering.

But although not all fibromyalgia patients have depression, it is now considered an aggravating symptom factor and should be treated. Fibromyalgia treatment with antidepressants usually begins.

But it is possible to achieve prolonged periods of calm even in the cruelest clinical manifestations of the disease, namely pain and fatigue.

The relief and control of pain and the improvement of the quality of life are key objectives. For this, the best strategy is the multidisciplinary approach whenever possible by doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and physical education professionals (not forgetting family involvement).

This multidisciplinary group, taking into account the personal characteristics of each individual, should complement the pharmacological treatment (analgesics, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, medicinal herbs and even homeopathy) with non-pharmacological medications, such as physical exercise, physiotherapy, massage and relaxation techniques ( yoga and mindfulness, a meditation technique of mindfulness), diet and acupuncture. Such practices (acupuncture, medicinal herbs, homeopathy), feasible with a little patience and perseverance, were recently incorporated into the Unified Health System (SUS) with the publication of the National Policy of Integrative and Complementary Practices.

I want to emphasize here the importance of physical exercise that has been considered by rheumatologists (and supported by patients) as one of the most effective interventions in the treatment of fibromyalgia, being responsible for the considerable relief of pain and fatigue. Obviously individualized, progressive and avoiding high impact.

Support groups of people with the disease and even mobile applications and tablets discuss strategies to deal with chronic pain and fatigue, with the aim of improving the quality of life.

There is even a bill that is going through the congress to promote those diagnosed the right to give up the grace period, to enjoy the benefits of sickness and disability retirement.

It is necessary to talk a lot about this invisible disease in the eyes of those who do not feel it, so that there is an understanding and a change in the behavior of society. As Shakespeare said, “Everyone can master a pain, except those who feel it.”

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