Information on fibromyalgia is ever-evolving, which is why staying current on the best fibromyalgia resources is so important. That’s why we’re presenting you with the newest book from the Mayo Clinic’s elite team. Check out the Mayo Clinic Guide to Fibromyalgia: Strategies to Take Back Your Life.
Written by doctors Andy Abril, M.D., and Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D., LP, this book guides readers through the ins and outs of fibromyalgia and how to lead a healthy and happy life with the illness.
We sat down with one of the members of the Mayo Clinic team, Dr. Bruce, for a Q & A on all things fibromyalgia. Read on for our interview and to see what real Mayo Clinic doctors have to say about fibromyalgia.
Click here to buy the book.
Q: What is fibromyalgia?
A: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and, often, cognitive symptoms. It affects millions of people worldwide. The constellation of symptoms that make up fibromyalgia have been around for decades under different names. Research has finally focused upon fibromyalgia and we are beginning to understand its causes and ways to manage it.
Q: How does someone get diagnosed with fibromyalgia?
A: A medical doctor can complete an evaluation to determine if Fibromyalgia is the cause of a patient’s symptoms of pain and fatigue. Medical history, screening tests, and blood tests can all assist in making an accurate diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
Q: What is the biggest thing that you wish people knew about fibromyalgia?
A: That it is a real disorder and not a mental health disorder that can cause severe pain and fatigue and debilitation. Often healthcare providers, loved ones, and the Internet can get it wrong and tell people that is it not a real disorder and that it is the result of depression or hypochondriasis and this is not true.
Q: What advice would you give to people living with fibromyalgia?
A: That there is hope – hope that you can feel better and get back to your life. Patients are often disabled by pain and fatigue and do not know what to do to feel better. They often feel abandoned by their healthcare providers who do not know what to do to help them. Understanding what is and is not wrong is the first step.
Q: What should people with fibromyalgia ask their doctors?
A: They should ask their doctors to help them understand what is and is not wrong with them. The symptoms they may be experiencing could be the sign of another medical condition. Patients can have other medical conditions in addition to Fibromyalgia and the appropriate management of their health is of the most importance. If your primary care physician thinks that your symptoms match those of Fibromyalgia, you may be sent to a Rheumatologist for further evaluation. A Rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the joints, muscles, and bones. Often they are asked to evaluate patients suspected of having Fibromyalgia.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about living with fibromyalgia?
A: The biggest misconception about Fibromyalgia is that the disorder is not real. The notion that patients are making up their symptoms – that the symptoms are “all in their head” and that they are attention-seeking, drug-seeking or just depressed. These statements are inaccurate. The thousands of patients that I have seen with Fibromyalgia are high performing individuals with very high personal standards and often incredibly successful lives who find themselves unable to remedy severe symptoms that are now threatening their careers and lives as spouses, parents, and friends. The patients that I see with Fibromyalgia are lovely people who just want to get their lives back.
Q: What practical strategies from the book would you most recommend?
A: First, learn about Fibromyalgia and what the current research is telling us about the cause of Fibromyalgia and why and how it is affecting the way a patient feels and responds. Then, educate the people you love about what you are learning. The loved ones in your life are worried about you and likely are confused about how to support you. This book lays out a structured plan to help patients feel better. The strategies focus on ways to turn down the central nervous system that is thought to be highly sensitive in patients with Fibromyalgia. Tools and approaches that target relaxation and stress management are important. Key approaches to changing your thinking, improving sleep, connecting with others and getting moving despite pain and fatigue can be life-changing.
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