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Patients with Fibromyalgia feel pain more intensely
Tuesday 3 July 2012
Patients with fibromyalgia feel pain more intensely
Gena Guill doesn’t let her sensitivity to pain take over her life.
She doesn’t want to miss out on spending time with her active 14-year-old daughter, Emily, or living a life of volunteering, photography and motorcycle rides with her husband, Jeff.
“I fatigue easy but I don’t let it get me down. I keep on going,” Guill said about living with fibromyalgia, one of the most common chronic pain conditions.
People with fibromyalgia feel pain more intensely or have a lower threshold for pain than others, said Dr. Sharukh Shroff of Southside Rheumatology and Arthritis Center on Memorial Drive in Danville. Often, the syndrome starts after severe psychological or physical stress that tricks the body into that pattern, and for others the symptoms accumulate over time.
Shroff must rule out other conditions that mimic the symptoms of fibromyalgia, like Vitamin D deficiency or fatigue caused by sleep apnea. Because pain is subjective, a diagnosis can be difficult and some doctors don’t believe the syndrome exists.
Shroff presses on 18 tender points on a patient. If more than 11 points experience pain, and the pain occurs over time, then fibromyalgia is more likely. But lab work, a physical exam and patient history is also needed.
While there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, medications can help, he said. These are basic painkillers like ibuprofen and drugs to help patients sleep, like anti-depressants or anti-seizure medication. Narcotics should never be used to treat fibromyalgia, he said.
The first-line treatment is really exercise, relaxation and stress reduction, Shroff emphasized.
“I wouldn’t look at fibromyalgia as only a medicine treatment,” he said. “It has to be a lifestyle and holistic approach.”
Patients should listen to their body and be aware of what makes the condition worse or better, he added.
That’s what Guill, who was diagnosed in 2009, does. Friends and family know they won’t see her in the mornings when her feet feel stiff and aged. At times, her ankles and hands swell
She takes medicine for the swelling and a small dose of painkiller sparingly as needed. More importantly, she makes sure to stretch and not over-exert herself. She participates in water aerobics and yoga at the Danville Family YMCA.
“If I get stressed out about something, I hurt,” Guill said.
While she would like more funding to research a cure for fibromyalgia, she would rather help her daughter who lives with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a nerve-related disorder that causes pain. They exercise together.
“I really look up to my daughter. She’s really a go-getter and strong,” Guill said.
Kelly McClain, of Danville, who also lives with fibromyalgia, is working to educate the community about the condition as residents suffer in silence struggling with it. She said other people, including medical professionals, believe people with fibromyalgia are exaggerating about their symptoms.
Living with fibromyalgia can wreck havoc on a person’s body and it tears at McClain’s heart when she must ask her husband and son not to touch her, even a hug, when she’s having a bad pain day, she said.
For more information, visit the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association’s website at www.fmcpaware.org.
The above, with comments, originally appeared here.
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