It’s a question I still hear all too often: Is Fibromyalgia Real?
Here’s my short answer: If after literally m-i-l-l-i-o-n-s of people have been diagnosed with the same symptoms, and keep in mind that those symptoms can be debilitating, why would anyone be questioning it at this point?
However, the fact that there is not a definitive diagnostic test that “proves” someone has Fibromyalgia can result in some natural questioning and doubt. On top of that, there is no definite cause established and no specific cure to address the illness. So all of these factors make Fibromyalgia still seem very illusive.
As well, there are other Chronic Illnesses and diseases that have some similarities in their symptoms, adding even more confusion to the mix.
With this bad combination of other illnesses having similar symptoms to FMS, no definite cause, no lab test to diagnose it and no cure, it is no wonder that those with Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or FMS, may feel somewhat confused or lost and even hopeless.
On top of this, recent drugs developed by big leading drug companies have begun a new marketing trend for their new fancy drugs, saying that those with FMS have “overactive nerves”, which also comes across in an uncoded message as your pain isn’t real. This is really just a marketing ruse to sell their drugs and is not based on any scientific evidence.
So, here’s some basic information that may help with these questions.
Incidences of the muscle pains characteristic of FM have been documented for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the disease started receiving some serious attention as doctors started to better identify trigger points, inflammation, and Fibromyalgia-associated issues such as sleep disorders and widespread pain.
In 1987 the American Medical Association recognized FM as “an emerging condition.”
The criteria for diagnosing Fibromyalgia was set in the 1990s by the Multicenter Criteria Committee of America. This criteria is defined as follows:
– “Having a history of ‘widespread pain’ that has lasted more than three consecutive months. The pain is defined as having affected all quadrants of the body, including both sides, below and above the waist.
– “Feeling pain along or at the designated tender points. This criteria appointed 18 designated tender points where pain from Fibromyalgia may radiate. People with FM may also feel pain in other areas, as well.”
At that time the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) formalized the classification criteria for FM.
Fibromyalgia is the second leading cause of musculoskeletal disease, just behind Osteoarthritis.
The National Institute of Health says that 1 out of 50 people are affected by Fibromyalgia.
There are estimates that more than 10 million people in the U.S. alone are afflicted by Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is commonly considered to be a stress-related disorder because it can often develop following stressful life events, which may include physical trauma, environmental exposures, infectious illness, or extreme psychosocial duress.
So, is Fibromyalgia real? YES, it’s VERY real. And if the drug companies cared more about finding real causes and cures than their profits and bottom lines, we might be further along in actually dealing with a very series illness that millions of people are suffering with today.