When pain becomes an inseparable companion, each day is seen as a major challenge. Ordinary chores in life become torment. Walking hurts, sitting hurts, lying down too. Sometimes even breathing is a pain. In moments of crisis, a simple hug or touch, however delicate, is torturous. Those who live with fibromyalgia know the human anatomy well and have an unwanted intimacy with sensations so painful that they are not even imaginable by those who are not hostages to the problem.
The suffering of fibromyalgia patients, however, goes beyond what is felt in the body. The disease was seen as a psychic disorder and confused with depression until very recently. For the eyes of others, the pain was the result of imagination or exaggeration. Today, the cause of fibromyalgia is still a mystery, but studies show that the disease is really physical and affects about 4% of the Brazilian population. In the elderly over 65, the prevalence is 7.5%. Women are the hardest hit.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic and diffuse muscle and skeletal pain, fatigue and impaired sleep. However, it usually brings with it a number of disorders, such as muscle stiffness, migraine, mental confusion, memory impairment, palpitation, dizziness, depression and many others. The diagnosis is not always immediate. It is necessary to rule out other pathologies that also cause diffuse pain. According to rheumatologist Rodrigo Aires Correa Lima, stressful or traumatic physical and emotional events are capable of triggering the disease, but it is not yet known whether it can surprise anyone or whether it occurs only in people predisposed to evil.Continues after advertising
The doctor remembers that, in healthy men and women, pain is an alert, a sign that something is wrong in the body. For those who have fibromyalgia, however, pain alone is the disease. “The symptoms are not always understood by doctors who know little about the syndrome. Fibromyalgia does not cause physical deformities and patients look healthy. I treat cases of fibromyalgia who suffered for almost a decade before getting adequate treatment. To confirm the diagnosis, we rely on the patient’s history and pain, which must be generalized, reach at least 11 specific points on the body and last for more than three months for no apparent reason ”, explains the specialist.
Speech therapist Maria Cláudia Silva de Camargo, 49, lived three years with the wrong diagnosis and had her life completely transformed due to fibromyalgia. The disease brought so many limitations that she had to stop working and learn to respect new limits. “In me, fibro appeared as a burning sensation in the back. It was like I had a third degree burn. I couldn’t sit or lie down. The pain is so terrible that I imagined suffering from something very serious, lethal ”, he says. “For three years, I was medicated with drugs that alleviated the symptoms for a few hours only. I can say that in this period life went blank, I became an introspective person, as family and friends do not always understand the dimension of pain.
To sleep, Maria Cláudia takes tranquilizers. Depression, pain and other manifestations are controlled with medication. According to her, society is unaware of the disease and the great challenge for fibromyalgia patients is to live with the turmoil of crises and everything they entail, in addition to people’s distrust. “I strictly follow medical guidelines and do aerobic exercises and therapy to learn how to live with evil, but I cannot make plans, as the pains surprise. I don’t feel safe working, my memory and concentration were also affected. My life had to be adapted to this new condition. Simple activities like going to the market alone or sitting on the floor to play with my grandchildren are a thing of the past. I can’t even make plans ”, he laments.
The physiatrist and regional president of the Brazilian Society for the Study of Pain, Ana Paola Gadelha, explains that patients affected by fibromyalgia have an extreme perception of painful stimuli and that the disease is really disabling. “Research shows that, while they are hypersensitive to pain, fibromyalgia patients are also unable to activate substances that would relieve this sensation. For this reason, bearable and circumventable stimuli for those who do not suffer from the syndrome are extremely painful for those who have the disease ”, he observes.
The doctor points out, however, that it is important to understand and demystify the disease. “Fibromyalgia has no cure, but pain can be controlled with medications and non-pharmacological treatments. Although limiting, it is not malignant. Adequate medicines, control of stressors, exercises and complementary therapies can provide quality of life ”, guarantees the physiatrist.