Do not ignore the complaints of your spouse saying, ‘since morning, I have been experiencing severe pain. It’s not in a particular place but all over, from head to foot. There is no use having medicines against the pain. Listen, I have been telling it to you, dear!’ It might be due to fibromyalgia that she has been suffering from. It’s one of the primary health issues affecting most of the women. It was discovered only in 1990’s and according to the American Orthopedic Association 3-6% of women in the world have been affected by fibromyalgia.
Dr Prabu Thilak, a pain management specialist describes about it:
“In Greek, ‘fibromyalgia’ means ‘incurable pain’ or ‘prolonged pain’. It is also termed as ‘fibromyalgiocytis’ or ‘fibrocytis’. The pain will be experienced like pin pricking pain or scorpion sting. It could be experienced in about 18 parts of the body. The pain may radiate while moving the muscles and there will be tightness of muscles at the back of the head, upper part of the neck, shoulders, mid of the upper chest, forearm, hip and back of the shin. Pain can be experienced in all those parts mentioned. These parts are called ‘tender points’. Those who have pain will be tested by pressing those parts and if pain is perceived at least in seven of those parts it is confirmed as fibromyalgia.
Why there is pain?
Feelings are perceived on the body due to the ‘neurotransmitters’ that connect the brain to all parts of the body, conducting neural information to and fro. Serotonin and Substance p are the two biochemical components that play a key role in neural transmission. While Substance p facilitates increased sense of pain Serotonin helps in reducing it. Those who are suffering from fibromyalgia either have reduced secretion of serotonin or it is not retained in the body adequately. This leads to increased levels of substance p in the body leading to severe sense of pain.
How to find it out?
It cannot be diagnosed through blood test, x-ray and scanning technologies. These tests can only confirm that the pain is not due to arthritis, neural or orthopedic complications. If the pain persists one must approach pain management clinicians. Only they will be able to diagnose it. Based on their advice one should do some physical exercises and consider some lifestyle modifications in one’s daily routine. Besides, drugs that facilitate serotonin secretion and reducing pain can be taken based on their advice. Further, pain can be managed through Trigger Point Injections too.
Who will be affected?
It can affect women of the age between 20 and 60. Till now the reason for the pain has not been found out. However it is believed that it could be due to increased levels of substance p, sleeplessness, inadequate physical activity and excess distress or sorrow. Research on this has been in progress, trying to find out its causes.
Awareness about fibromyalgia should be spread not only among those who are affected but also to others who are not. This is because the biological test results will show that there is no problem related to one’s health. Even those who are close to those who suffer might even go to an extent of saying that the sufferers are simply exaggerating it and there is no problem as such, based on the test results. This will further exacerbate the pain of those who really suffer.
Let us embrace those who suffer!
Till now there is no medicine to cure fibromyalgia. We should not ignore the pains of those who suffer from fibromyalgia. We should be supportive to them and try to understand their sufferings and help them get relieved of their pain.
This article is published considering the World Fibromyalgia Day. The day has been decided to be commemorated worldwide since 1998 when the National Fibromyalgia Association was founded in California.
(This article written in Tamil by G Lakshmanan has been transcreated in English by V Amalan Stanley)