|New Recognition for Fibromyalgia
USA Weekend Magazine, October 15, 2007
by Susan T. Lennon
Fibromyalgia is far from new -- its symptoms seem to be described in the Bible's Book of Job. Yet as recently as 10 years ago, when sufferer Lynne Matallana co-founded the National Fibromyalgia Association, doctors often made light of its painful symptoms as "all in your head."
But fibromyalgia is real. Thought to be genetic, it's often triggered by a physical trauma, like surgery, childbirth or a car accident. "It's a life-altering disorder," says Matallana, co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fibromyalgia." "It can change your ability to work and have relationships, and challenge your own self-confidence."
However, a medication offers new hope. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the drug Lyrica to treat the pain. Still, nutrition and lifestyle modifications remain important, Matallana says. These include reducing stress, doing low-impact exercises and following dietary guidelines if you also have one of the often-overlapping conditions, such as lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease.
And attitude matters. "It's a bit of a Catch-22," says Matallana, who saw 37 doctors in the two years before she was properly diagnosed. "You don't want to give in to it, but you also don't want to push beyond what's realistic for you."
Think you may have it? The major symptom is unexplained, widespread pain for more than three months in all four quadrants of your body (above and below the waist; right and left side). For tips on how to find a fibromyalgia-savvy doctor, visit fmaware.org and click on "article of the week."