5 Myths About Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition that is often misunderstood. Affecting around 2% of Americans, the disease causes pain all over the body along with a strew of other health problems. Living with fibromyalgia is not easy, especially because even doctors aren’t exactly sure why it happens.

With all the information on the internet regarding fibromyalgia, sometimes it can be hard to set the myths aside from facts. The Painless Center, located in Carlstadt and Tenafly, New Jersey, is here to debunk five of the common myths and facts about fibromyalgia. 

Myth #1: It’s just in your head

Fibromyalgia can bring pain to your shoulder, elbow, leg — almost anywhere. But instead of the pain being localized in the body part it affects, it stems from your brain. This is part of the reason why many doctors don’t understand the disorder and why many people have stigmatized the disorder to be “all in your head.”

In a clinically controlled study that analyzed the brains of 27 people, PET scans proved that those with fibromyalgia had more inflammation in immune cells located in the brain. This neurochemical change gives us hard evidence that the disorder isn’t just imaginary, and physiological changes are present. 

Myth #2: It only affects women

Though a majority of the people who suffer from fibromyalgia are women, they are not the only ones who get this disorder of the central nervous system. Approximately 10-25% of sufferers are men, and many more are thought to be undiagnosed. This may be because of the gender-bias of how physicians may diagnose the disorder.

Myth #3: You shouldn’t exercise

If you’re in pain all the time and experience fatigue from fibromyalgia, exercise may seem like the last activity you want to do. However, The American College of Rheumatology explains that exercise is the most impactful treatment for fibromyalgia. Activities that are aerobic like biking, swimming, and walking have proven to be effective in managing their symptoms.

Myth #4: It’s a catch-all diagnosis

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there are many ways you can manage its symptoms. However, people still believe the disorder to have a “catch-all diagnosis” because there isn’t a single way to diagnose it. The disorder also affects people differently, making it even harder to characterize. 

Physical exams are often not conducive, and laboratory tests do little to prove it. Fibromyalgia is instead diagnosed by having:

People with fibromyalgia are thought to have heightened pain receptors to stimuli that are otherwise not pain. Even knowing this, 75% of people with the disorder remain undiagnosed.

Myth 5: There’s nothing you can do

The  saddening remark that many people with fibromyalgia are met with is, “There’s nothing you can do.” Although there is no known cure for the disorder, you are not doomed. There are many ways you can manage its symptoms to live a happy and healthy life. 

Jason Chiu, MD can help you find the treatment that works for you. He may suggest a prescription medicine or advise you to make some lifestyle changes including exercising, stress reduction, and cognitive behavior therapy. Many times, he suggests patients try a combination of the two.

You don’t have to live with pain every day. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Chiu.

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