The superstar Lady Gaga was “intermittently dealing with global and mental pain”, and she wanted to share her suffering with the world through a Netflix documentary. This was when Fibromyalgia became more widely known.
If you have watched Five Foot Two, the Netflix documentary that reported Lady Gaga’s journey with Fibromyalgia, you might be familiar with the symptoms: full body spasms and pain across the body. On documenting her suffering, she said:
“I get so irritated with people who don’t believe Fibromyalgia is real. For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), trauma and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result. People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.”
For someone who used to be very active and loves sports, Jane Chua suddenly feels pain all over her body and it got so bad that not only she had to give up sports, but she was also unable to even carry on her daily activities and work.
This condition is a common and chronic disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, diffuse tenderness accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Because the symptoms mimic that of other conditions, healthcare practitioners often misdiagnose the sufferer in the early stages. Plus, there aren’t any tests to confirm the diagnosis. Fibromyalgia sufferers complain of pain in various regions and areas of tenderness, that are referred to as ‘trigger points’.
The pain experienced in these areas often feel like a consistent dull ache and sufferers often wake up tired, even though they slept for long periods of time. They may also struggle with a symptom commonly known as ‘fibro fog’, which impairs the ability to focus and concentrate.
The pain arises from an abnormal nervous system response. It’s believed that unconventional levels of certain chemicals in the brain changes the way the central nervous system processes pain messages, causing areas that are unlikely to be painful to hurt.
Doctors can’t be sure of the causes, but find that a variety of factors work together for this disease. One reason could be genetics as it tends to run in families. Fibromyalgia could also be implicated by infections from other illnesses, and triggered by a physical trauma. Lady Gaga blames it on physical and mental components – PTSD from a sexual assault by a music producer when she was 19 and breaking her hip in 2013.
Fortunately for Lady Gaga and Jane Chua, they are feeling better now, because of proper treatment and self-care. Treatment for this condition comes with a holistic approach. With lifestyle changes, such as adopting a good sleep hygiene and incorporating an exercise programme into one’s routine, a sufferer can feel better when combining medication and therapy.
Regenerative medicine, specifically prolotherapy or platelet rich plasma (PSP) injections, which consist of natural substances that encourage tissues to regrow, can be used for Fibromyalgia to reduce pain and strengthen ligaments.
Your chronic pain may be linked to Fibromyalgia. If you suspect so, consult a paincare doctor and your days of suffering may be over soon.