I’ve written a lot about endometriosis. I’ve also written about some of the “side-effects ” people with endo often suffer, such as back pain, digestive issues, and gastritis. Now I want to write a little series on other chronic conditions that often appear alongside endometriosis. Today, it’s fibromyalgia, aka fibro, FM, or FMS.
Before I carry on, I just want to apologise for this post being a little tardy – I’ve been very sick with a nasty, persistent cold and some rather bad flare-ups, so I haven’t had any energy to spare for writing this week. I suspect there will just be one post next week as well, so bear with me for a bit whilst I recover.
Of all the chronic conditions that people with endo often end up with, fibro is probably the one I fear the most. The reason for that is that my endo pain is generally confined to my torso, and at worst may cause shooting pains in the legs. Fibro is just pain everywhere. All over. Muscles, joints, bones, the whole shebang. Imagine that – pain embedded in your skeleton. It can be limited to just a few spots on the body, true, but it can also effect the whole body at once. People who have fibro have described it to me as hellish, rendering them completely unable to move.
In addition to pain, it can cause such delightful symptoms as tingling, muscles that twitch, cramp or go suddenly weak, headaches, dizziness, generalised weakness, sensory overload, impaired concentration so bad you can hardly string a thought together (aka brain fog), insomnia, restless sleep, intolerance of hot or cold, stiffness, irregular periods, depression, bowel troubles, bladder issues and more. Doesn’t it just sound like a hoot?
Of course, the best part is that, just like endometriosis, we don’t know what causes it, and there is no cure. We do know that stress exacerbates it and there seems to be a link between onset and physical trauma, but not all physical traumas cause fibro and not all people who suffer from fibro have experienced a physical trauma. We also know you’re more likely to suffer from it if you’re a woman (80-90% of sufferers are female).
Because of the wide variety of exciting symptoms, fibro can be difficult to diagnose. There’s no conclusive test, even through surgery. It’s mostly a case of ruling out other causes for pain. Unfortunately, this can often result in delays of diagnosis for sufferers of fibro.
The treatment is also difficult. Mostly, it’s lifestyle management, like identifying and avoiding triggers (difficult to do when triggers can be things like, well, moving). Many doctors recommend physio and gentle exercise, such as water-based exercise, yoga, or tai chi. It’s also recommended to eat well, avoid stress (lol) and get plenty of rest (extra lol). (I note that I am laughing at how they make that sound so easy, not the idea itself – lots of rest and minimising stress are important in battling any chronic condition). Unfortunately, some things that can cause flare-ups can’t be avoided, such as weather changes (yes, seriously), and travelling.
There are medical treatments as well. Some people can get along well with panadol and ibuprofen, but others may need to resort to stronger drugs like pregabalin and gabapentin. Like treatment for endo, it can get expensive quickly.
The connection between endo and adeno and endo and PCOS probably seemed quite logical, but why have I linked endo and fibro? Well, because studies suggest people with endo are more likely to suffer from fibro. We’re also more likely to get chronic fatigue, a condition we tend to have in common with fibro sufferers, and which I will be writing about next.
I live in deep admiration for people with fibro, especially those who also suffer from endometriosis. I have a really hard time sometimes just dealing with one condition. I know how deeply it impacts every aspect of my life, from my relationships to my job. Fibro just seems like…what fresh hell is this? I know how you get through it – you have to, and do you do – but I am in such awe of your strength and willpower. Keep fighting, my friends.
Do any of my readers have fibro? I would love it if you could share your experiences with diagnosis, treatments, and just life with fibro generally in the comments.