What is fibromyalgia syndrome?
Over 90% of people with chronic musculoskeletal
pain have fibromyalgia syndrome, although many other names are used
to describe this condition. On this CD we therefore use fibromyalgia
as the name to describe a wide range of long lasting pain conditions.
We expect that you will find many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia
to be very familiar to you.
How does fibromyalgia affect you?
The main complaint is pain which can be
localised or generalised moving from one part of the body to another
and varying in severity. The second main feature is a low
pain threshold (or pain
sensitisation) which means that pressure
and movement previously not painful become painful. Thirdly the
majority of people with fibromyalgia have poor quality sleep waking
stiff and sore in the morning. Fatigue and emotional distress are
also present. Other symptoms include pins and needles or tingling
in the hands, headaches, irritable bowel symptoms, swelling in the
hands or elsewhere, and blueness in the fingers.
Concern about these symptoms takes people to the medical merry-go-round
searching for a cause and cure. Unfortunately there is no simple
cause or cure and the person in pain becomes frustrated, anxious,
disappointed and even depressed as they fail to get an answer.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a gross disorder of the
pain system. Simply put, the pain system is too sensitive. This
sensitisation arises when pain becomes chronic but emotional distress
also plays a big part in causing the lowering of the pain threshold.
The interaction of physical, psychological and social factors is
explored to help you understand the causes of fibromyalgia.
What can you do about fibromyalgia?
Because the pain and other symptoms are
not due to damage or disease the condition is potentially reversible.
It is also important to realise that pain sensitisation can co-exist
with other diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis) or structural changes
(like degeneration) amplifying the pain caused by the disease or
structural changes. The first step is to understand the condition
and stop searching for causes and cures. The next step is to learn
to be a self-manager who
accepts responsibility for her health and healing. The second CD
explores a self-management program designed for people with fibromyalgia
and chronic pain. Managing stress, getting fit, improving sleep,
taking appropriate medication, and keeping active provide the path
out of pain. The majority of patients do well with this approach.
In this highly technological world our remarkable capacity for self-healing
is often forgotten. Awakening the healer
within is the key to recovery but a self-manager is also organised
and well-informed. Dispelling chronic
pain myths and believing in your
capacity to reverse the condition or raise your pain threshold are
fundamental to healing.