In Vogue’s October issue, the 32-year-old pop star discussed her fight against fibromyalgia, a disease that affects the nervous system and causes body-wide pain.
“I’m so angry with people who don’t think fibromyalgia is genuine,” the singer said. “It’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, trauma and panic disorder for me, and for many others, that locks up the nervous system and causes nerve pain.”
“People need more empathy. Chronic pain is not a joke. So we wake up every day without realizing how we’ll react.
Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, announced that last September, just before the release of her film Gaga: Five Foot Two, she suffered from the debilitating disease.
“I would like
to help raise awareness and connect people with it,” she tweeted.
The pain was so intense for Gaga that she couldn’t perform. She was hospitalized due to “intense pain” in September 2017 and canceled her upcoming concerts.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about fibromyalgia, according to Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University’s Rheumatology Department. The condition has been wide
ly known until recently.
Many felt that, as they often looked healthy, the symptoms of fibromyalgia were all “in the head” of people struggling with the disease.
“It’s a fully recognized condition now, no question,” said Fitzcharles. “We moved away from the notion of mental illness in all patients.”
What about fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder in which individuals experience chronic muscle and tendon pain, often accompanied by other symptoms such as issues with sleep, headaches, or mood, Fitzcharles told Global News.
Fibromyalgia impacts about 2 percent of Canadians, according to the Canadian Arthritis Society, although the bulk of individuals with fibromyalgia (80 to 90 percent) are females. The Arthritis Society claims that people aged 20 to 50 are at greatest danger of developing the disease.
Fibromyalgia is not currently cured, but it helps to manage symptoms.
What do you think fibromyalgia looks like?
Symptoms of fibromyalgia differ, but include fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, bowel irritable syndrome, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and migraines.
“For more than 30% of individuals with fibromyalgia, the skin is viewed as awkward even to touch and stroke,” Fitzcharles said.
She also stated that painful symptoms suggest a disconnect between their body and their nervous system in individuals with fibromyalgia.
“It’s like the nervous system is excited. We see signs of hypervigilance in many patients,” she said. “Therefore, people are too susceptible to loud noises, surcharged surroundings and intense light.”
What is causing fibromyalgia?
The precise cause of fibromyalgia is uncertain to medical professionals, but the disease can often be traced to a traumatic event, Fitzcharles said.
“One-third of individuals will say they were in ideal physical health, and then an[ important] incident took place,” said Fitzcharles. “It could be a severe viral disease, a traumatic event like a car accident or a fracture, or an incredibly stressful physiological event that seems to cause it.” Fitzcharles suggests that for two-thirds of individuals with fibromyalgia, the disease seems to be coming out of nowhere. If your family has a history of fibromyalgia, the risk of developing the disease will increase.
Why is it difficult to diagnose fibromyalgia?
For years, fibromyalgia has fascinated physicians. Diagnosis is hard because there is no standardized disease test and the diagnosis is not confirmed by any test. Additionally, symptoms may alter frequently and often appear healthy to those living with fibromyalgia.
“The patient looks quite normal. There’s no swelling, there’s no fever, you can’t see anything. So even family and friends have difficulty understanding the process, “said Fitzcharles.
She claims patients must wait five years before being correctly diagnosed, as she is hard to define.
“What physicians have to do[ to diagnose] is to take a healthy[ medical] tale and examine it to make sure that there is no one of the circumstances that might seem to be fibromyalgia,” she said.
The physicians will then perform minimal tests to ensure that there is no other underlying disease. “We highly advise you not to conduct unnecessary patient testing, such as X-rays and excessive MRIs.” How do you treat fibromyalgia?
Fitzcharles claims the condition can be handled with medication, but with self-management methods, including a healthy lifestyle, adequate sleep, and decreased stress, most patients regulate their disease.
“Probably a periodic program of pleasant physical activity is the most effective intervention,” Fitzcharles said. “Extremely essential is non-pharmacological management.” Fitzcharles said it was essential to discover medicines that would reduce pain–not contribute to it.
“Unfortunately, most of the drugs we use have major side effects, and many side effects may be comparable to fibromyalgia symptoms,” she said. “So, if a patient says he has excellent sleeping trouble and[ important] pain, if we can choose a drug that can affect sleep and pain, that’s the way we’re going.”