In the October issue of Vogue, the 32-year-old pop star opened up about her struggle with fibromyalgia, a condition that affects the nervous system and causes pain throughout the body.

“I get so irritated with people who don’t believe fibromyalgia is real,” the singer said. “For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result.”

“People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.”

Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, revealed she suffers from the debilitating condition last September, just before the release of her documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two.

“I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it,” she tweeted.

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For Gaga, the pain has been so bad at times that she’s been unable to perform. In September 2017 she was hospitalized due to “severe pain” and cancelled her upcoming concerts.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding around fibromyalgia, because up until recently, the condition wasn’t widely accepted as a real illness, said Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at McGill University.

Many believed that symptoms of fibromyalgia were all “in the head” of people dealing with the illness, since they often look healthy otherwise.

“It is now a completely recognized condition, no question,” Fitzcharles said. “We’ve moved away from the notion that all patients have mental illness.”

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which people feel chronic pain in their muscles and tendons, often along with other symptoms like sleep problems, headaches or mood disorders, Fitzcharles told Global News.

READ  Fibromyalgia and Serotonin Deficiency: What Is the Link?

According to the Arthritis Society of Canada, fibromyalgia affects around two per cent of Canadians, although the majority of sufferers (80 to 90 per cent) are women. People between the ages of 20 and 50 are most at risk for developing the condition, the Arthritis Society reports.

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, but symptoms can be managed through treatment.

What does fibromyalgia feel like?

Symptoms of fibromyalgia vary, but include fatigue, disrupted sleep, cognitive dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and migraines. There’s one common thread: pain.

“For more than 30 per cent of people with fibromyalgia, even just a gentle touch and stroking the skin is perceived as being unpleasant,” Fitzcharles said.

She further explained that for people with fibromyalgia, their painful symptoms indicate that there’s a disconnect between their bodies and nervous systems.

“It’s as if the nervous system is fired up. In many patients, we see evidence of something we call hypervigilance,” she said. “So people are overly sensitive to loud noises, busy environments and intensive light.”

What causes fibromyalgia?

Medical experts are unsure of the exact cause of fibromyalgia, but the illness can often be traced back to a traumatic event, Fitzcharles said.

“One third of people will say they were in completely perfect physical health, and then there was some [significant] event,” Fitzcharles said. “It might have been a severe viral illness, a traumatic event, like a motor vehicle accident and broken bone, [or] a severely stressful physiological event that seems to trigger the onset.”

For the other two-thirds of people living with fibromyalgia, Fitzcharles says the condition seems to come out of the blue. There is an increased chance of developing the condition if your family has a history of fibromyalgia.

READ  Clothing Pain and Fibromyalgia: There is a Connection

Why is fibromyalgia hard to diagnose?

Fibromyalgia has puzzled doctors for years. It’s is hard to diagnose because there is no one standardized test for the condition, and there’s also no test to confirm the diagnosis. Plus, people’s symptoms can change frequently and again, those living with fibromyalgia often look healthy.

“The patient looks absolutely normal. There’s no swelling, there’s no fever, there’s nothing to see. So even family and friends have difficulty understanding the process,” Fitzcharles said.

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Because it’s hard to identify, she says it typically takes patients five years before they’re properly diagnosed.

“What physicians need to do [to diagnose it] is take a good [medical] history from the patient, and examine the patient to make sure that one of the conditions that can [appear] as fibromyalgia is not present,” she said.

Then, doctors will do minimal testing to ensure there’s no other underlying illness. “We really recommend against doing excessive testing on patients, like excessive x-rays and MRIs.”

How do you treat fibromyalgia?

Fitzcharles says that the condition can be treated with drugs, but most patients control their illness with self-managed techniques, including a healthy lifestyle, proper sleep, and minimizing stress.

“Probably the intervention that is most successful is a regular program of comfortable physical activity,” Fitzcharles said. “Non-pharmacologic management is exceedingly important.”

If a patient does require medication, Fitzcharles said it’s important to find drugs that help alleviate pain — not contribute to it.

“Unfortunately, most of the medication we use has considerable side effects, and many of the side effects can be similar to the symptoms of fibromyalgia,” she said. “So if a patient says they have terrible difficulty with sleep and [significant] pain, if we can choose a medication that can impact sleep and pain, that’s the way we go.

READ  Etiology of Fibromyalgia

References:

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22 thoughts on “Lady Gaga on her fight with fibromyalgia: ‘Chronic pain is no joke’”

  1. My heart has been touched. I’m so sorry that you have fibromyalgia. I’ve been praying for you. I was told I. 2004. It’s been a roller coaster ride. But now as of March 2015 I’ve been to the point I could no longer work. My pain so was severe. I’m constantly searching for tests etc I can to learn all I can about this has changed my life.

  2. Has she been tested for Lyme Disease? I was previously diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Wish her well no matter the diagnosis.

    1. Lyme is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. They told me I had fibro. They were wrong. I’ve had lyme for 8 years. I never had a single problem… Until I was but by a tick and had a bullseye rash.

  3. It’s nice to see that Lady Gaga is speaking out on behalf of all of us that suffer from fibromyalgia, bc I know first hand what fibromyalgia feels like and the statements people have made to me about not looking sickly or that I seem healthy that there’s no way I can be ill so thank you again to Lady Gaga

  4. Thank you. I’m going to share this information so people can understand a little more about the pain we are in every day.
    Thanks again
    Mike

  5. I feel for you Gaga, I have chronic spine and nerve damage that no medicine can help. I wish for you to be strong, I know it will be difficult, but you have shown us that you are a winner. <3

  6. Omg I suffer so much from this also there are days where it is so bad o can’t do anything. I can go for months with mild symptoms then I will get an attack out of the blue and it is awful.

    1. You know my body feel like a fire burning in it and if a hair even touch my body it hurt and I can say when the weather change so does my body when it nice outside and the sun is shining on most days I feel good but when it is raining outside my body can tell it and if I sit down I am just falling off to sleep but when I wake up I feel so shaky and tired.

      1. Wake up people! At least half of you need a real lymes disease test. Not the crap they get from their doctor either. Most fibro is Lymes disease

  7. I suffer with falmarogler and its nasty effects dont no what day you will have a good day or bad wish I could get rid of this disease but I no it’s a on going illness.

  8. Fibro has now been classed as a Central Nervous System disorder. Some have put it in the same category as MS. Dr. Daniel Clauw, University of Michigan is a renowned researcher in FM. Please do some reading before turfing it to the Rheumatologists. It is much more complex than they are able to handle. Unfortunately, most of the medical community has NO idea how to treat it and all we’ve been given are drugs that make us worse, not better. As an RN with fibro, and an RN who specialized in pain management I can tell you that the less you move the more you will hurt. Building up to moderate activity is vital to keeping your body going. So, also, is eating a clean diet. Avoid fast food, lots of sugar, definitely DON’T drink sodas, either regular or diet. Don’t eat garbage foods. Many have had great responses to low-dose naltrexone and if your physician doesn’t understand how to prescribe it then ask for a referral to a good pain clinic. It is such a complicated syndrome and so much more research needs to be done, but if your dr treats you like a drug seeker, a whiner, a pain in the butt, leave him or her immediately and find someone who will listen.

  9. There actually is a blood test for fibro with 98% accuracy called FM/a that is done by an epigenetic lab in Los Angeles. I’m not sure why most people don’t know this. Insurance even covers it and you can use your own local doc and lab to send the samples to them. I did it in person and got a confirmation that I have it but don’t have the most severe case of it. Yes, they can even tell what level severity too.

    1. Diets are important people need oxygen foods in it and good suppliments creatine foods, iscoleine foods valine foods and valinum foods in the Diets in a proper controlled way once u gain hold of your autoimmune system u can win health back and free up inflammation inside

  10. I have fibromyalgia and I still get from Dr’s that it is all in my mind and there is not such thing. There is ,and the pain makes it almost too much to handle at times ; thank you Lady Gaga , I knew you were a favourite of mine for more than your music [ which is awesome ]
    Reign

    1. I get the same thing too but not only from my Dr I get it from people I know. Oh it’s all in your head. Get off my lazy ass and do something and I won’t hurt all yhe time. I just woah someone could live in my body for one day… They will see the oain I go through.

  11. Hi I Am a SURVIVOR of physical & psychological wrong doing, which my earliest memory was 18 months old. That’s right a baby. It continued on throughout my young years straight on into my teenage years and well it seems like I’m a magnet for this sort of thing I dunno .
    I truly believe that when chemicals are released in the brain and are not able to be processed by the brain those chemicals have to go somewhere and, unfortunately our organs are where their absorbed which in my opinion is what causes the tornado affect. Both psychologically & physically we react to situations with outrageous forceful energy because it is not just that one isolated incident it’s now EVERYTHING I’ve been through throwing up inside me turning faster n faster gathering every chemical that’s ever been released that’s my tornado affect inside now how do y’all think that looks or feels on the outwardly twist of things. Maybe some or all of these. Here are some of mine.
    -Depression
    -Fibromyalgia
    -PTSD
    JUST TO NAME A FEW
    Thank you Lady Gaga for using your public platform for a greater good!!

  12. I have it myself, along with arthritis and very severe back problems. I live with pain 24/7, so I know how bad it is, and it’s really bad. Fibro has disrupted my life in a way I have no words to explain, but someone with the disease understands exactly what I mean without having to use any words. It angers me to no end when people unfamiliar with Fibro act as if you’re faking symptoms, that you’re nothing more than a hypochondriac or are merely looking for attention. If only they really knew, then they’d really regret the doubt. My heart breaks for Lady Gaga, but I’m so thankful to her for bringing about more awareness to this debilitating disease. It’s beyond difficult dealing with it on a daily basis, but even harder doing so alone. Regardless of the doubts, I would personally wish this disease on no one!

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