Fibromyalgia is a strange disorder that affects women more than men (by a margin of almost 80 - 90%).
And now Lady Gaga has revealed that even she suffers from this chronic condition.
But what is fibromyalgia? And why has Netflix teamed up with the Fame Monster star to produce a documentary on this distressing disorder?
Read on to know more.
Fibromyalgia: The Chronic Pain Disorder
Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder that causes widespread pain, waking fatigue, and severe sleep disturbances.
Unfortunately, no one knows the exact cause for this.
But what we do know is that it has many risk factors. Like family history of fibromyalgia, physical trauma (accidents and injuries), emotional trauma (deaths and divorces), and infections.
In fact, women suffering from Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis have been known to develop this condition too.
#1 Constant Pain
Fibromyalgia is characterized by constant dull aching pain throughout the body that last for more than 3 months at one stretch.
#2 Waking Fatigue
Those who suffer from this disorder feel tired and fatigued even after they have sufficient sleep, which severely hampers their day-to-day activities.
#3 Sleep Disturbances
Fibromyalgia causes a large number of sleep disorders. The most important of which is constant pain that leads to disturbed sleep.
But it is also known to cause other problems like Restless Leg Syndrome (the urge to constantly move your leg when you are resting) and Sleep Apnea (breathing difficulties).
#4 Disabled Cognition
The constant pain brought on by fibromyalgia can be so distracting that people suffering from it often find it difficult to concentrate on tasks that require mental focus.
#5 Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The constant stimulation of pain receptors in fibromyalgia and the resultant brain changes leads to many other problems, one of which is irritable bowel syndrome (abdominal cramps, pain, diarrhea, and gas).
#6 Migraines and Tension Headaches
Since the brain is overstimulated in fibromyalgia, it doesn't take a big leap to understand why this condition can also precipitate migraine attacks and frequent tension headaches.
#7 Painful Bladder Syndrome
Also called Interstitial Cystitis, this condition is characterized by mild to severe pain in the pelvic region.
#8 TMJ Disorders
TMJ, or the Temporomandibular joint, is the jaw joint that allows us to speak and eat. And while it is not known why fibromyalgia precipitates disorders related to it, the most popular theory is that the increased pain response of the brain manifests all other problems through the nervous pathways.
Is There a Cure?
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia does not have a cure as of yet.
But what doctors can do is ease the pain and give symptomatic relief.
Various medicines are used to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Painkillers - Only non-opioid painkillers, like ibuprofen and paracetamol, are prescribed because opioid analgesics cause dependence and also intensify the pain over time.
Anti-depressants - Ease pain and fatigue.
Muscle Relaxants - Helps with sleep.
Anti-epileptic drugs - Gabapentin is an FDA approved drug for treating fibromyalgia because it works wonders on the symptoms.
The main aim of physiotherapy for fibromyalgia is to reduce fatigue and thus improve strength, flexibility, and stamina.
Psychological counseling is very essential because people suffering from this disorder live with pain, and these sessions help them deal with these debilitating problems.
While not as effective as medications and physiotherapy, yoga does show good results over a period of time when practiced regularly in those suffering from fibromyalgia.
The Netflix Documentary
Given all these distressing facts about fibromyalgia (the most frightening of which is that it affects women 8 to 9 times more than men), Lady Gaga's Netflix documentary is an effort to spread more awareness about this disorder, which she has to live with for the rest of her life.
But you don't have to wait till this documentary is released to chip in your fair share.
If you found this article helpful, just share it with your friends on social media so they can be aware of this condition too (especially if they are women).
Lady Gaga image source - Victoria's Secret