Most of us have heard the term fibromyalgia but even though the diagnosis is becoming more used over time, there are still a good number of misconceptions surrounding it. Below we will go through some of the most prominent myths surrounding the disorder.
There is nothing you can do about it
If you are an individual who lives with fibromyalgia, it is time to learn about the various things that can help with managing the disorder, a common myth is that there is nothing to do. On the contrary there are a lot of things that can help an individual in managing fibromyalgia. For further information see this blog
It’s all in your head
Fibromyalgia, although not fully understood in all its contexts and origins, is a real diagnosis and a real disorder. In recent years, thankfully there has been an increase in the amount of research around the condition. There have been major leaps in terms of what it means to have fibromyalgia as well as what affects it.,
However, given that it was relatively recently that this disorder has been taken seriously, more research is needed in order to help in understanding its origins better.
It’s just a little pain
While it is true that the term ‘myalgia’ refers to pain and that the disorder is characterised by pain, it is rare that this is mild pain. People have reported experiencing severe amounts of pain over various parts of their body.
It is just pain
While pain is one of the most prominent symptoms of this disorder, it is rarely the pain alone that is experienced by people suffering from fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, the disorder is also characterized by issues with executive functioning (a process in the brain that helps with decision-making). Other symptoms which may not be obvious include trouble with concentration, memory loss and headaches. This is often referred to as fibro-fog.
You have fibromyalgia therefore should not exercise
It is true that people with fibromyalgia will find it difficult to do certain exercises due to the extreme bouts of pain they experience as well as due to fatigue. However, research has shown that being inactive is often worse than doing slow, steady exercise. Exercise which is of low impact such as swimming can be helpful in keeping muscles active and in promoting management of the disorder. It is also true that exercise wards off other ailments and promotes better cognitive function. This is an added bonus to individuals who experience frequent fibro-fog and memory issues.
Fatigue can often get in the way of maintaining a routine of exercise – however, the important thing is to set a goal and to be flexible in how you achieve it. While routine can help greatly, being too rigid will often result in shame and guilt over goals not achieved and tasks not checked off the to-do list. Whatever happens, being kind and compassionate toward yourself is the most important thing.
You have to have a specific diet in order to manage fibromyalgia
While there is no specific diet associated with fibromyalgia, avoiding inflammatory foods such as sugars and junk food can help with energy levels and overall health.
Only medication can help me get rid of the pain
There are a lot of things that can help in pain management, medication could be one of them but not the only one! Always remember that taking care of yourself does not neglect taking care of your mental wellbeing as well.
While there are many more myths that can be mentioned, this blog was written with the hopes of starting to eradicate what is not true. In doing so we hope that there is more discussion on what fibromyalgia actually is and what can help you or a loved one deal with it.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Jessica Saliba Thorne is a Gestalt psychotherapist. She has experience within the mental health field and sees adults with mental health difficulties, relationship issues and trauma at Willingness.
Häuser, W., & Fitzcharles, M. A. (2018). Facts and myths pertaining to fibromyalgia. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 20(1), 53–62. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/whauser