How to Deal with People who say that Fibromyalgia is all in your head

How to Deal with People who say that Fibromyalgia is all in your head

If I consult doctors and relatives of someone suffering from chronic pain, the question I always get is, “Does he or she have pain? “The response I usually give is ‘yes—all pain is true.’ A person’s perception of pain is special to the patient and cannot be measured from the outside, except for the advanced brain imaging possible with a practical MRI that is only accessible in a few laboratories in the world.

As there’s really no way to know how much pain people are in except what they’re telling you, my first inclination is to believe what my patients tell me.

Stigma associated with having a chronic disease

We know that besides suffering from the actual pain , fatigue, and fog of fibromyalgia, many patients also suffer from the stigma of having a chronic disease. We’ve asked our readers about some of the more hateful examples of what people are saying. Be warned that some of those things are just heartbreaking. But it is important for us to bring that into the light.

Lynne Kennedy Matallana was long dismissed for her chronic fibromyalgia symptoms.

Lynne Kennedy Matallana has been long overdue for her signs of chronic fibromyalgia. It took her two years and 37 doctors to locate one doctor who trusted in her and dedicated to treating her. She spent much time in bed before that, suffering from a number of symptoms.

While that was in the mid-1990s, patients often go from doctor to doctor before meeting someone who can tie the dots with their symptoms. Not long after her illness, Matallana co-founded the National Association for Fibromyalgia (NFA), a charity devoted to supporting those with chronic pain.

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Pain Experienced as Emotion

Eight out of ten words they use to explain their feelings when I ask patients about their pain are emotional. The three most frequently used terms are anxiety, fear , and anger, but depression, helplessness, purpose-loss, frustration, guilt , and shame also exist.

Pain is protective and we experience a set of aversive emotions when we feel pain so we try to move away from whatever causes it. That’s how we’re flying. So it’s logical we ‘d get an emotional response to the pain. “The sensory components become less important as pain becomes chronic and the emotional and behavioral components tend to take on more importance,” says Jodie Ann Trafton, director of the California Veterans Administration Palo Alt Health Care Systems Program Evaluation and Resource Center.

“It is for studying. Pain is a strong mental feeling. It’ll reshape your attitude. It’s going to reshape how you communicate with this planet. And this in itself means that, over time , your brain will respond differently.

Even doctors didn’t believe

There is a pathway to diagnosis for many people with fibromyalgia that begins with shuffling from doctor to doctor, seeking an explanation for pain symptoms that can’t be diagnosed with X-rays, blood tests or any other test — all while pushing past the naysayers who believe symptoms are imagined or exaggerated.

Every individual has a unique experience of pain

One of the most important things people with chronic pain can do to help themselves, I think, is to notice what they feel. Each individual has a unique experience of pain but I focus on some of the universal elements in this discussion. Especially in our culture, where we resist pain and want to move away at all costs, we are creating a vicious cycle in which our attempts to move away from the pain are actually intensifying pain.

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The struggle to strain in response to a painful experience or get angry that it hurts makes the pain worse. We will make significant changes in our health by recognizing and exploring the feelings we feel with chronic pain through curiosity rather than judgement. Emotions are as real as the pain that causes them, and I firmly believe that people with chronic pain will never get better if they don’t deal with their emotions about their pain.

More is known about fibromyalgia today

Fortunately, more is known today about fibromyalgia, and the condition is widely recognized as actual. The Food and Drug Administration has 3 drugs specifically approved for the condition. Researchers across the country and around the world are actively studying fibromyalgia in clinical trials.

In the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), even insurance companies and medical professionals have at last a specific code for the condition. Fibromyalgia was previously coded as unspecified myalgia and myositis (729.1). But the state has been having its own own code in the past year.

Chronic pain is strongly influenced by emotions

Based on studies done earlier this year and published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, we now have conclusive evidence that emotion strongly influences the experience of chronic pain. The brain’s emotional state may explain why different individuals don’t respond to similar injuries in the same way.

With 85 percent accuracy, it was possible to predict whether an individual (out of a group of forty volunteers each receiving four brain scans over a year) would or would not continue to develop chronic pain after an injury. These findings contradict other research and studies in the psychiatric and medical literature that affirm the pain decreases by modifying one ‘s behaviors, one ‘s feelings toward pain.

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References:

  • Fibromyalgia Victim Blaming: How to Deal with People who say, “It’s all in your head” by Christine Cioppa via Fibromyalgia Treating

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