What did you teach us about your fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, disabling pain condition that occurs more commonly in people with migraines:

  • Fibromyalgia affects about one in three people with migraines.
  • Migraines occur in about half of those with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, poor sleep, fatigue, mood problems, and digestive symptoms. The quiz below can help you see if your symptoms might be from fibromyalgia:

The London Fibromyalgia Epidemiology Study Screening Questionaire
Have you had pain in muscles, bones, or joints lasting at least one week?
Have you had pain in your shoulders, arms or hands? On which side? Right, left or both?
Have you had pain in your legs or feet? On which side? Right, left or both?
Have you had pain in your neck, chest or back?
You may have bibromyalgia if you answered yes to all four pain questions, and you have pain that affects both the right and left sides of your body.
Do you often feel tired or fatigued?
Does tiredness or fatigue significantly limit your activities?
If you answered "yes" to both fatigue questions, you probably have chronic, dehabilitating fatigue. This can be part of fibromyalgia.

Adapted from White, et al. J.Rheumatal. 1999;26:880-4.

Reproduced from The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit by Drs. Marcus and Deodhar,Diamedica Publishing 2012.

A few months ago, we invited people with fibromyalgia to take part in a survey asking about fibromyalgia symptoms and impact. This survey specifically focused on how fibromyalgia might affect relationships with the most important people in your life—your partner or spouse, children, and close friends. The survey was completed by over 6000 people with fibromyalgia and the results were just released in the medical journal Musculoskeletal Care. This is one of the largest published surveys of people with fibromyalgia—so thanks to all of you who opened yourselves to us and shared yourselves in this survey. Read below to find out what you and others with fibromyalgia told us about how fibromyalgia impacts your important relationships.

Fibromyalgia had the greatest impact on relationships with spouses/partners and children:

  • Over one in four people reported their spouse/partner did not understand their fibromyalgia.
  • Half of people said fibromyalgia had damaged a current or previous relationship with a spouse or partner.
    • 10 percent of people said fibromyalgia contributed to a relationship break-up.
  • One in three people said their spouses and their children resented when they couldn't participate in activities with them.
  • One in four people said their spouses and children thought they exaggerated their pain.

Fibromyalgia has less of a negative impact on current relationships with close friends than with spouses/ partners or children. On the other hand, many people shared that having fibromyalgia resulting in losing friends, as friends stopped calling and offering invitations. People with fibromyalgia talked about friends not knowing how to react to fibromyalgia and some said they'd learned to stop letting people know they have fibromyalgia.

What do these results teach us?

Fibromyalgia has effects in many aspects of life. Most questionnaires focus on problems completing work or household chores. It's important to recognize that fibromyalgia can also have substantial effects on your relationships with others and your ability to stay socially involved with family and friends. A previous study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain found that having satisfying relationships was important for functioning and quality of life. So the next time you're talking to your doctor about your fibro symptoms and how treatment is working, remember to also consider effects fibro may be having on relationships in your life.

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