Get Educated and Involved on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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May 11, 2018

Get Educated and Involved on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Do you have a friend, loved one, or perhaps it’s even you who lives with the pain of fibromyalgia? The National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) estimates that approximately 10 million Americans are affected by this chronic disorder. In 1998, the organization’s founders created a special day to acknowledge “fibro warriors.” May 12, 2018 is the 20th anniversary of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about this condition and help spread education.

Twenty years ago, fibromyalgia (FM) was a virtually unknown condition. Today, it’s recognized as a complex and legitimate life-altering illness that affects people physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and financially. Fibromyalgia occurs in people of all ages, including children, and it’s more common in women than men. Almost everyone knows someone who lives with it.

As of 2018, it’s not known exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but Mayo Clinic reports that it may be the result of genetics, infections, and physical or emotional trauma. In some cases, however, FM symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

What is fibromyalgia?

Studies show that FM is a disorder of the central nervous system that results in chronic widespread body pain, explains the NFA. "Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain processes pain signals," adds Mayo Clinic.

The pain of FM is often felt in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints of the upper and lower body. It’s important to realize that the pain levels and other common symptoms of FM vary from person to person as well as in the individuals affected. Symptoms often wax and wane over time, and they often get worse in frequency and intensity during periods called “flares.”

What are the most common symptoms of FM?

Along with the widespread pain and tenderness characteristic of this neurological disorder, many people with fibromyalgia also experience other symptoms.

1) Moderate to extreme fatigue. The profound tiredness and lack of stamina experienced in FM “is an all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with occupational, personal, social, or educational activities,” notes the NFA.

2) Sleep disturbances. Getting deep, restful, restorative sleep is impossible for many FM patients. Studies show that individuals with FM are constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity during their sleep, which severely limits the amount of time they spend in deep sleep, reports the NFA. Many individuals with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

3) Cognitive difficulties. The loss of mental clarity called “fibro fog” can be as frustrating and disabling as the physical pain for many people. Common cognitive impairments include:

  • Short- and long-term memory loss
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Inability to pay attention or concentrate on mental tasks
  • Difficulty carrying on conversations or finding the right words
  • Inability to remember new information

The Arthritis Foundation cites a 2015 study that confirmed the reality of fibro fog: “In a study of 60 individuals – 30 with fibromyalgia and 30 without fibromyalgia – researchers found various impairments of attention and memory in fibromyalgia patients when compared with healthy controls. What remains unclear is what is causing the cognitive challenges.”

4) Depression and anxiety. The NFA estimates that 30-40 percent of the fibromyalgia community suffers from depression.

5) Sensitivity to touch, light, sound, and odors.

Many individuals also experience a number of other overlapping conditions, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
  • Lupus and arthritis

How can you help on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day?

A great way to honor people dealing with FM is to raise awareness about the condition in your community by hosting a fundraiser on May 12th. The National Fibromyalgia Association has some guidelines, ideas, and promotional materials to help you make it a success.

Now that you’ve educated yourself more about this challenging condition, you can be a bright healing light in the life of an affected person by validating their pain and offering to help. Is there a chore that needs doing, an errand that needs running, or a dog that needs walking? The extreme fatigue and muscle pain can make even the simplest of everyday tasks impossible for people with FM. By acknowledging that you recognize this and want to be of service, you can be a tremendous force for good and grace in the life of someone struggling to cope with fibromyalgia.

Are you interested in learning more about Allied Health, Nursing or Biomedical degrees? Contact Geneva College today at 855-979-5563 or and let us help you pursue your personal and career goals.