Fibromyalgia sufferers discuss their struggles 2023


Software developer Hina Arora developed neck and shoulder pain in 2018 that expanded throughout her body. The severe pain, anxiety attacks, mood swings, and depression “which worsened during the menstrual cycle” disrupted her daily life. “In the absence of any understanding and support from others, led me to feel extremely isolated,” she told

Physiotherapy helped her eventually. Her fibromyalgia was managed by exercise, rest, and self-care.

In 2015, marketing and branding expert Arushi Lohiya got fibromyalgia after daily severe headaches “incapacitated me”. My hip hurt too much to sit still. Every joint, muscle, and nerve ached, immobilizing me. She remembered that she couldn’t write, wash my teeth, or comb her hair, so she resigned her work.

However, her condition made her stronger, and she founded India Fibromyalgia Foundation to raise awareness and advocate for patients.

What’s fibromyalgia?

According to a Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience study, fibromyalgia causes chronic widespread discomfort, unrefreshing sleep, physical weariness, and cognitive impairments. It affects all populations worldwide with an incidence of 2–4%.

Dr. Ilavaran S, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Chennai, explained that nerve stimulation changes the brain and spinal cords of fibromyalgia patients. This change raises brain pain-signaling chemicals abnormally. Thus, the brain’s pain receptors appear to form a painful memory and become more sensitive, overreacting to both painful and nonpainful signals. He informed that physical or psychological stress often triggers fibromyalgia.

Vishnu Priya Bhagirath, Counselling Psychologist, characterized fibromyalgia pain as a deep, continuous agony with sensitivity at “trigger points” on the body. “Cognitive dysfunction or ‘fibro-fog’ can cause difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and word recall,” she stated.

Psychological stress and trauma, musculoskeletal disorders, weariness, and family history can also cause fibromyalgia.

Saumya Pahwa, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, said, “Fibromyalgia is a contested diagnosis and many health professionals believe it does not exist as a true disease, and that it is in the patient’s minds, making it psychological or psycho-somatic.” She said that fibromyalgia is more common in women than males, maybe due to how both genders react to pain and cultural expectations. “Trauma, abuse, and domestic violence, especially in women, can also trigger it,” she added.

Vishnu Priya added, “One possible cause of fibromyalgia is abnormal pain processing in the brain and spinal cord, which can result in an exaggerated response to pain signals.”

Fibromyalgia diagnosis

To diagnose, doctors use patient history, physical exam, and lab tests.

The condition causes 18 painful areas. Touching delicate regions hurts. To examine tender points, a doctor presses them with their finger. They’ll force the sufferer and ask whether they’re in discomfort. Dr. Ilavaran said they will rule out related disorders like tension and migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome, chronic fatigue, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Quality treatment can alleviate fibromyalgia discomfort, but there is no cure. Medication and lifestyle changes like:

Get enough sleep: Fibromyalgia patients often feel tired and drowsy in the morning. Avoiding coffee at night, keeping the room cold, and shutting off electronics will help sleep.

Exercise regularly: Fibromyalgia can make exercise difficult, but being active helps control the condition. One need not exercise. Start with swimming, walking, or low-impact aerobics and progressively increase the length and intensity.

Medications: Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Duloxetine are beneficial. Gabapentin can help certain patients.

Therapies: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy promote mental health.

Self-care: Yoga, meditation, and a balanced diet.

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