As a result, patients often complain that they have difficulty explaining their illness to others, sometimes being forced to justify that it is not just “all their head”. This can be a particularly frustrating experience for sufferers to have to deal with, and may also contribute to the number of myths that seem to surround the disease.
We’ve put together five common assumptions associated with fibromyalgia, in an effort to separate fact from fiction:
- Fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis
Fibromyalgia is often perceived as being an arthritis-related condition, as symptoms can seem similar. Helpful sources such as arthritis.org explain the ways in which the conditions vary from one another:
“Although considered an arthritis-related condition, fibromyalgia is not truly a form of arthritis because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles or other tissues. It is, however, considered a rheumatic condition because it impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain.”
- Fibromyalgia is rare
Fibromyalgia is by no means rare, in fact, it is regarded as one of the most common types of chronic pain disorder. Although available statistics do vary in relation to how many patients have been classified as suffering from the illness, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association the disorder now affects an estimated 10 million people in the US alone. The same report states that the average age of sufferers tends to be between 20–50 years old, but that instances tend to increase with age.
- Fibromyalgia can be treated through diet
Whilst certain foods and drinks might aggravate symptoms in some patients of fibromyalgia (such as too much caffeine or alcohol), there is no evidence-based research to suggest that one particular diet plan can affect or improve symptoms. However, it is naturally in everybody’s interests to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet; and if you find that certain food types add to or relieve symptoms, it is certainly worth listening to your body. In case you missed our recent blog on this subject, we put together some healthy tips that you might like to try out.
- Fibromyalgia only affects women
Statistics available on the internet typically estimate that between 80% and 90% of sufferers of fibromyalgia are female. It does, then, appear to be true that the majority of individuals diagnosed with the illness do tend to be women. It is, however, worth remembering that fibromyalgia can hit people of any age, sex and background. Also, as fibromyalgia is a fairly common condition, that means that there are a lot of men out there that are suffering from it too. In fact, menwithfibro.com offers an online support network to help male patients of fibromyalgia realise that they need not feel alone.
- Fibromyalgia is a psychological problem
The common circulation of this myth can be particularly frustrating if you suffer from fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, there are even reports that some members of the medical profession have brushed off patients who exhibit signs of the illness, advising them that their symptoms are psychosomatic.
Thankfully, there has been a lot of scientific research about fibromyalgia over the last few years and it is finally starting to filter its way into the mainstream. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is not considered to be a psychological problem, rather it is a physiological and neurochemical one:
“In people who have fibromyalgia, the brain and spinal cord process pain signals differently. As a result, they react more strongly to touch and pressure, with a heightened sensitivity to pain.”
Are you a fibromyalgia sufferer who has had trouble explaining your illness to someone? We’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences in relation to any of the common myths and beliefs surrounding fibromyalgia.
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.