Loyal reader L.L. sent in a personal account of her painful experiences with the disorder Fibromyalgia. Not much is known about fibromyalgia, and most doctors tend to dismiss the disorder as psychological. But for the 2% of the population who suffer from fibromyalgia (mostly women), the pain they feel is very real.

According to the MayoClinic, fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by dull pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fibromyalgia can also cause fatigue (feeling excessively tired), depression, anxiety and sleeplessness (insomnia). The symptoms usually begin after a traumatic event or injury.

Other conditions associated with fibromyalgia include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Endometriosis
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lupus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment includes pain medications, anti-depressants and anti-seizure meds. Most patients self-medicate with Motrin or Aleve until the pain drives them into the doctor's office. Physical therapy, counseling and lifestyle modification are also treatment options.

This has been your Medical Minute.

Read L.L.'s emotional email after the break (long read).

As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider.

Hi Sandra,

I hope you’re doing well. I have talked about my health problems quite a bit in the comments and several people have been praying for me because of the severe back problem I have but I wanted to see if you would post a medical minute on fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with it a couple months ago and it is a fairly new disease but is affecting many women and a lot of black women. I’d never heard of it until last year when a friend of mine received her diagnosis and to be honest I was so caught up in my own health issues that I didn’t even really think about her illness. Long story short, I came very very close to death a couple months ago and my body went into severe state of shock causing even more problems, one of which was my nervous system going out of wack and I now have this disease.

With my disability, I have a lot of time of my hands and I’m throwing everything I've got into trying to find a way to overcome this and move on with my life and raise my children so I’m doing the only thing I know how to do which is research nonstop (which is why I’m not posting as much). The more I learn, the more all of this is beginning to make sense and the more I have the urge to spread the word to other people so they can go get checked and treated if they have any of the symptoms and dr's have been unable to tell them why. You being a nurse with a blog I figured you would be a good person to contact.

In case you aren’t familiar, fibromyalgia is a chronic disease with no cure that causes such a variety of symptoms that it is often misdiagnosed and treated. It causes mild to severe pain all over, chronic fatigue, memory loss and concentration problems, menstrual problems, bowel and bladder problems,insomnia, the list goes on and on. So many things begin to fall apart and malfunction due to this disease which was discovered in the 90’s and sill isn’t fully accepted by the entire medical field as an actual disease.

My dr directed me to the Fibromyalgia network which has a website that was very helpful and I’ve been researching like crazy. Because of your medical experience I’d be curious to know your opinion. For a while I thought that this was a way for my dr to get more money out of me but the more I research and live with it the more I see that isn’t true. Plus she has already informed me that there is not a drug she could prescribe that would take this away or even greatly improve it. I have major major back problems but living with this on top of my other issues has been absolute hell. I'm pretty much tortured from the time I wake up to the time my medication knocks me out at night and nothing can help.

One thing that she said, which I found interesting, was that most drugs are tested on white and asian men. Each race has it’s own genetic makeup and structure and women and men have different hormone levels which means that a medication that is tested on a man but does fine may have a completely different effect on a woman and a drug that works well in Asian men may be dangerous to prescribe long term to a Black woman. The doctor’s treating me now believe that it was a adverse reaction to a bad combination of drugs prescribed by my previous doctor for the back pain which led to my hospitalization and near death but since there isn’t a way to prove it there won’t be a lovely monetary windfall to make being disabled for life worthwhile.

Anyway, please read this, maybe view the website I mentioned or any others you may know of and tell me what you think if you have time (I know you’re busy) or post this as a Medical Minute. Because of the range of symptoms that come with fibromyalgia many people are walking around miserable not knowing why. They finally found a combination of medication that alleviates some of the problems for me but no where near all of them unfortunately and that is just something I have to live with. I will say that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy because it is truly hell on earth. I’m just shy of 30, raising 4 children alone (not on purpose, I know how you feel about that, my husband who is the father of them all and I separated.

This wasn’t planned at all) and now I get to deal with this. Maybe if there was more awareness, then the medical community will put more effort into researching a cure or at least treatment that will allow a person to live and function without misery. This is a disease that won’t kill you but causes so much pain, depression and a sense of helplessness that it could easily drive a sane person insane enough to kill themselves.

The drugs that are currently on the market to treat the symptoms, do not treat all symptoms and therefore must be used in combination of other drugs none of which can give a person a normal pain free life. They also are dangerous and have very serious side effects associated with them. One drug caused my eyesight to deteriorate so bad and fast to the point I couldn’t drive safely within a week of starting the drug and that was a mild side effect. The other sent me to the hospital for a week. Plus they are extremely expensive.

  • Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

    Very sad story , I will keep you in my prayers !!!!

  • LadyLew

    I always wondered what fibromyalgia was when I saw the commercials.

    Whatever don't kill you only makes u stronger! Stay strong and keep the faith

  • waterlily_76

    So sorry that she is going through this. When your health isn't right, everthing else is thrown off as well.

  • mirsmommy

    Wow. I'm sorry to hear that she is going through this. I will keep you in my prayers as well. :pray:

  • http://charactercorner.blogspot.com attorneymom

    Wow, your reader is in my prayers.

  • Daisy

    Morning Fam

    @Sandra can we get a medical min on thyroid issues? I went to the Dr yesterday have to get an ultrasound next week.

    Prayers to the readers

    :welcome: all newbies I was BUSY yesterday *e welcome packets* for all..where you from reping/married/single/kids/who if anybody do you STAN for in FUN only? Please be sure to complete your packet in a timely manner esp you Jerrie I have had inquiries about you in HR already :coffee: :wink:

  • KayCeiSoul

    I am praying for her...this is so sad! But God doesn't take you to any place that He can't bring you out of.

    My sister posted a message on my page yesterday that made so much sense. She said the greatest job she knows of is being a mother. She ain't never lied. When mother's experience health problems, the level of stress and aggravation is multiplied x's 10, and everything feels critical.

    Keep your head up! I'm praying for you.

  • FloridaChick813

    LOL @ Daisy, you are tooooo cute, with your e welcome packets... And who is Jerrie?? :waiting:

    Oohhh and many :prays: to the Loyal Reader and Daisy ;)

  • KayCeiSoul

    @ Daisy...I have hyperthyroidism. At least that is what I was diagnosed with when I went in for heart palpitations and sluggishness however, the doctor has taken my blood work at least 3 times after I took that test with the radioactive pill, and my levels have been normal. She initialy told me my treatment options were to take a higher dosage of the pill to burn the thyroid out or have it surgically removed. But since my levels are no longer high, she told me I didn't have to do either...the whole thing is strange to me.

    I thought folks with hyperthyroidism had problems keeping weight on...I still have to work hard to keep my weight decent. No extra benefits here.

  • http://twitter.com/Ms_Missy2791 missy

    I pray that the reader feels better...May the Lord be with her....

    @daisy-You had to put especially Jerrie... lol

  • Ebony

    :rofl: @daisy for calling out caramel drop jerri from the maxwell post

  • Daisy

    @Kay I have gained 20lbs and I am a gym rat so I knew something was right and I was always sleepy/tired and COLD. I believe mine is hypo or underactive and my levels are fine but I have a goiter so I have to see how big it is and go from there. He said meds or surgery depending on what they find. I have been told that the meds make you drop weight fast and that is my :pray: Cause this here is for the BIRDS!

    @Missy :lolol: I must have typed that by accident.

  • Daisy

    @Ebony I had multiple inquires about Jerrie yesterday

  • Silhouette

    Peeks in did Jerrie fill his out yet? :waiting:

    Morning Fam.

    on topic: I pray that she finds some relief.

  • FloridaChick813

    Im confused.. I just went to the Maxwell post to check out this Jerrie person and the pic was of a female.. then I clicked refresh and saw a male... :think: Whats REALLY goin on???

  • KayCeiSoul

    @ Daisy, I'm praying for you lady...don't worry about them 20lbs, because like you've been told, those meds are going to flash fry any extras you may have.

    My cousin has hypo, and she lost at least 25 pounds within a month once she started the meds. It was scary. But she swears before she found out about it, she went to bed a size 14 and woke up an 18. We laugh about it now though.

    They will have to burn my thyroid to put me in a "hypoactive" state, then put me on meds to regulate my hormones. That is too much and not enough, so I'm politely calling on Jesus to gone on and fix me up :)

  • http://chokolatemilk.blogspot.com Choco

    To the reader,

    I know the pain you feel I used to be achy all over and it was difficult for me to walk I noticed day by day I would walk slower and slower becuz of tight muscles aches all over I went to my dr and he said I had a virus that attacked my muscles and my body like I had walking pneumonia for at least 6 weeks and only did over the counter remedies I would get better but only for a couple of days and that's when he said the bacteria turned viral he prescribed me an antibiotic in case of other infections and put me on Percoset for 14 days he took my blood and the test came back fine a lil high chlosterol but nothing serious - I was on the pain killer for 14 days and the pain went away I needed another 7 day dose because the pain came back. After feeling like the walking dead for about 3 months I overcame the illness and whatever was affecting me by getting plenty of rest, reduced my stress and started taking a wellness pill from the Vitamin Shoppe that had zinc, vitamins c, d, e and it was homeopathic and I maintained the road to recovery and feeling more like myself. Personally I think I had maxed my body out and didn't replenish what I depleted day in and day out my suggestion is to really get in tune with your body and listen to what it needs for fatigue I rested or I would take fish oil for protein there are a lot of herbals remedies I found that help my body get back on track I don't have 100% confidence in man made drugs or drugs prescribed by doctors that cocktail they had you on gave you more harm than help...hope this helps and GOD BLESS!

  • Daisy

    @kay I am praying and callin on Jesus abt my ear and thyroid issues but in the meantime give me a pill to help me drop this xtra weight lol

  • http://lovingme782.wordpress.com Ms. Everything

    Oh wow... I got an email from Sandra saying check out the Medical Minute and I'm kinda in shock cause I didn't think she would really post it. Sandra, thank you so much and thanks to all of you. @KayCei your sister is right, the hardest part of this is that I can't be the mother I should be and its hurting me worse than anything else. At one point they considered putting me in a home and asked me to move in with family but I don't have family where I live and I'm fighting to hold on to my kids in my own home but its hard. I wake up in tears and cry myself to sleep every night thinking about my babies because without me they have no one. My ex, the one I talk about so much, is beside himself for starting this chain of events but the one good thing that has come from all this is that he says (which I'm taking with a grain of salt) that he's on the road to recovery from his drug problems because I told him that if I die (especially since I've had two very close encounters already and the drs are saying I shouldn't be here now but its the graceof God) our children will likely be split up and put in foster care. The last couple weeks I've been biting my cheek and spending as much time taking them places as possible but it has taken a toll on me majorly and they can tell. @Choco, I will go to the store today and get those vitamins. I've been taking prenatals because they're one of the greatest vitamins out there for young womens health but I'm going to look for those today. You're right these drugs aren't helping and my dr told me at my last visit that I have maxed out my pain receptors, meaning the drugs aren't helping me any longer. This came on so quickly that I had no idea what was happening and I'm just blessed with a dr who knew what it was when she saw me. But everything you said is true, taking a percocet it like eating a huge tic tac, a shot of morphine may as well be a shot of water. Seriously, thank you all, I didn't expect this type of response and I'm crying while I'm typing this. @Daisy, a couple years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism but it cleared up before I had to consider surgery but it runs very deep in my family so I know its going to come back. My grandmother who has been in treatment for that longer than I've been alive said that the most important thing is take your pill everyday without fail. She hasn't had to have surgery. I'm praying for you. And again thank you thank you thank you to you all

  • LaTechGrad02

    @Ms. Everything, I'll be keeping you in my prayers

  • SPK318

    :newbie: I have a classmate that has this...I feel so bad for those who suffer with this disease.

  • HotTamale

    Good Afternoon Everyone,

    My first time posting (just registered) though I have been lurking (every day) since day one. I absolutely love this site.

    I have been suffering from Fibromyalgia for many years, and I can definitely testify to what she is going through. The saddest part about dealing with this condition is that since it is not well known or cancer, a brain tumor, etc., no one takes you seriously. Lyrica helps somewhat, but the side effects can be as bad as the condition itself. The pain is intense and often times relentless.

  • Val

    very intertesting: we were discussing this issue @ my job.. wanting to determine weather mental health or regular medical health plan should cover this diagnosis... it actually is pretty common.. but Ive never heard of it prior to working @ my job.

  • aqtpie

    @Ms. Everything, I will definitely pray for you!!!!!

  • http://lovingme782.wordpress.com Ms. Everything

    Thanks @aqtpie

    @Val, the more research they do, they find so many other disorders tied into it that it shouldn't be a question but unfortunately it is. Going through it, I definetly say it's a medical not mental issue. My dr compared it to Post Traumatic Shock syndrome because it often occurs after your body has gone through a major illness or intense stress. I think as more people are correctly diagnosed and more research is done, more doctors will be willing to consider it as an actual physical disease and hopefully will do more to treat it. That's why I was trying to get word out about it

  • http://lovingme782.wordpress.com Ms. Everything

    Oh and welcome @Speak! Thanks Latech!

  • http://lovingme782.wordpress.com Ms. Everything

    @Hot Tamale,somehow I missed your comment. :welcome: Lyrica is what messed up eyesight so now I am on Cymbalta but it doesn't help with alot of my symptoms but allows me to sleep. I'm scared to try anything else at this point. That was why I wrote the email because I've had the same problem where it took so long for me to be diagnosed and once I was diagnosed my other drs weren't knowledgeable about the disease and when I try to tell people what it is, it's met with skeptism. My mom still can't understand what's going on since she'd never heard of it prior to my diagnosis and she keeps expecting me to just wake up one morning and say that I'm all better. I'm sorry you have it to but am so glad that you posted because you actually understand what I am feeling

  • SweetNJuicy


    I have been lurking for a while. Posted before. Sandra is a mess. You gotta love her. (Female, Social Worker, Athens GA)

    @ Ms. Everything: You are in my prayers. You have described my cousin to a "t". She is can't work anymore, depressed, can't sleep, has gout and thoughts of suicide. I talk to her as much as I can to keep her spirits up. She is in so much pain. Plus all the other medical problems. She takes methadone for the pain but it seems as if her body is getting used to it and not working. I pray they come up with cure.