What Does It Feel Like to Have Fibromyalgia
Dealing With a Chronic Pain
Have you ever had the flu? I’m not talking about a runny nose and a fever, but a hard core flu where your body ached all over, so much so, that you were bed fast for several days. You had a soar throat, a terrible cough, aching sinuses, your head felt like it might explode and every muscle in your body ached.
Have you ever broken a bone? I’m talking about a multiple compound fracture that had to be fixed by screws etc.
Have you ever had back pain, like degenerative discs and bulging discs at the same time? Or have you injured your back to the point of immobility?
Have you ever felt the prickly burning and tingling sensation in your feet or legs when they are thawing out under hot water?
Put these together and you have an idea of what the pain feels like to a Fibromyalgia patient. Notice that I said an “idea” of what it feels like. Those pains and sensations just mentioned are of the type most people can relate to. But, believe it or not, there is even more pain that comes with Fibromyalgia.
For a Fibro patient, the pain can be so bad during flare ups that we tend to breathe shallow because our ribs and sternum hurt so badly when taking a deep breath that we choose to breathe shallow. That can make our headaches worse. Many of us have frequent migraines that come and go regardless of the pain level of our body. Having a headache is just something we deal with.
I have gone through all of the pain listed above including massive headaches. During different times in my life I have felt each of those types of pain individually. One time I got into a car wreck that gave me amnesia, a compound multiple fracture in my left leg, bruised my ribs, serious concussion, and much of my body hurt even though my leg was the epicenter of the pain.
If someone had told me that you’ll feel worse than this twenty years later I would not have believed them and I would wonder what evil they were plagued by.
I know those pains individually and I know how to compare it to Fibromyalgia. I think that most readers will relate to one of those types of pain. Now imagine having all of those pains at the same time and imagine that the pain doesn’t let up, not after a few moments, not after a few days, not after a few weeks or even months. Suffering chronic pain leads to other afflictions like chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression, to name a few.
Trying to describe what Fibromyalgia is like is virtually impossible. Every fibro patient has unique pains on top of what I have already described. The bone crushing pain that occurs from the core of your body pushing its way out to the surface is excruciatingly debilitating. This pain forces you into bed or in my case a recliner. My back and neck hurt so bad I can’t lay in bed unless I am going to sleep with heavy medication. Thankfully I have a recliner that can be put into several positions to help change the pressure on my neck, back, hips and legs.
Imagine having a knee replacement and a hip replacement on both knees and hips at the same time. It’s been a few days later and you’re trying to walk. But imagine your shoulders are so sore that you can use crutches because the pressure on your arms and shoulders will pierce your aching shoulder and forearm muscles.
For those who have had joint replacements or know someone who has, you no doubt, know that they usually go into the rehab part of the hospital for day or more and then go to regular physical therapy for several weeks or more.
Those of us with Fibromyalgia are at home and without a therapist and in the same pain or worse. In spite of all this we have to walk to go to the bathroom or to get something to eat. There is no end in sight with the pain.
Fibromyalgia doesn’t affect the bones or joints directly. It is pain of the soft tissue which is everything other than your bones. But the muscles, tendons and ligaments can hurt so badly that your joints feel like they hurt just the same as if the joints were full of arthritis. Fibromyalgia can be treated symptomatically but not as a whole. Great strides have been made over the last ten years but for now all that can be done is to treat the symptoms which are better than nothing.
I have heard one doctor, a pediatrician, describe Fibromyalgia as arthritis of the muscles, all of the muscles. (Note that arthritis and fibro are not related.) Another explanation I’ve heard is that Fibromyalgia is like having a migraine all over your body.
I have described fibro pain from my point of view. Here is a little antidote from my life that deals with how easy pain can rear its miserable head.
My family decided to recycle soda pop cans. We have a recycle bin from the city but we wanted to see if we could get enough money from our own “can recycle program,” every couple of months, to go out to eat as a family.
I enjoyed smashing cans with my feet. It was fun for two reasons. One, I was doing something normal and ordinary. Two, I was “smashing” or “crushing” something. I did it for a few days and then I felt my calf muscles and shin muscles ache and it felt like my muscle would burst through my skin. I take an anti-inflammatory for arthritis in my hip and facet joints. So I knew there was no worry about swelling. I thought maybe I over did it at the gym. I walk a treadmill slowly.
Somehow I realized that it was from stomping down hard on the soda pop cans. I stopped flattening cans and by the third day the pain stopped.
The lesson to this story is all too familiar with other fibro warriors and that is what can I do on the days I feel good? What simple and slight task will hurt me? Sometimes we stop living on good days for fear of added pain on the bad days.
So what does it feel like to have Fibromyalgia? It feels painful!!! But there is much more to it than pain. However, pain is the number one issue for fibro patients.
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