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Articles > Top fibromyalgia myths to ignore

Top fibromyalgia myths to ignore

Fibromyalgia can be hard to pin down: There_s no simple way to test for it, and the hallmark symptoms_tender, aching muscles and extreme fatigue_are often mistaken for other conditions. To shed light on this perplexing pain syndrome, we asked Roland Staud, MD, to debunk common misconceptions.

Diana Bierman

Provided by HealthMonitor

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Myth #1:
The pain is all in your head.
Fact: Fibromyalgia is very real, causing severe body-wide pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances, says Roland Staud, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville and co-author of Fibromyalgia for Dummies. Research shows that people with fibromyalgia feel pain more intensely. For example, brain-imaging tests confirm that a person with fibromyalgia has more brain activity in reaction to pain than the average person.

Myth #2:
Only middle-aged women get it.
Fact: Although most patients are women in their 40s, anyone can get fibromyalgia, including men and children. People are typically affected between the ages of 20 and 60, but it can occur at any time. Those with high levels of stress, fatigue or even difficult childhood experiences may be at risk. While the genetic contributions to fibromyalgia are unclear, people in the same family often get it. In fact, about a third of children whose mothers have fibro eventually develop it as well.

Myth #3:
Don't exercise if you have fibromyalgia.
Fact: On the contrary! Some research suggests exercising for
25 minutes twice a week can actually improve symptoms. If you're in a lot of pain, however, avoid muscle-strengthening exercises, like weight lifting. Instead, start with water aerobics or even a stroll around the mall. Once you get comfortable exercising, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Some fibro-friendly exercises include yoga, biking and tai chi. And remember that chores like mopping, washing windows or gardening also count as exercise.

Myth #4:
Fibromyalgia damages your joints.
Fact: There's no evidence that joint damage occurs. It's more likely that arthritis will contribute to your fibromyalgia pain (up to 65% of people with fibro also have other rheumatic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus); however, fibromyalgia doesn't cause arthritis. Overall, fibromyalgia-related painis more often related to pain orstiffness in the muscles rather than joints.

Myth #5:
There are no treatments for it.
Fact: There are actually several effective options, including medications and complementary approaches like acupuncture and massage. Another helpful treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which a therapist teaches you to challenge negative thoughts and establish new coping skills. Studies show CBT can reduce symptoms in most patients by at least 30%, and even by 50% in some. But the keys to really curbing symptoms? Consulting your doctor and using self-care strategies. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep and pacing yourself to avoid exhaustion.

Fibromyalgia Osteoarthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis Exhaustion Pain Sleep Disturbances Stress Arthritis Fatigue Systemic Lupus Erythematosis Exercise More

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  • maryl

    1 hour ago

    I love this posting but i have no idea how anyone with fibro can get enough sleep.healthy lifestyle yes . eating healthy yes. pacing yourself yes somewhat but it at times all falls apart because of the lack of sleep thanks for the info appreicate it

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