By Mari A. Schaefer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, like arthritis. It can impair the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain and fatigue. Lady Gaga shares her experience with the often misunderstood condition.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The one thing that can really irritate Lady Gaga is people not believing that the pain from her fibromyalgia is real.
“People need to be more compassionate,” she told Vogue in an interview.
With a hit movie and soundtrack for “A Star Is Born” and the recent premiere of a two-year Las Vegas show, Enigma, it is hard to imagine that less than 18 months ago, Lady Gaga stepped away from a world tour to concentrate on her recovery from the chronic pain disorder.
The music star opened up about her condition in September 2017 just before the release of her documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two.”
“In our documentary the #chronicillness #chronicpain I deal w/ is #Fibromyalgia I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it,” she tweeted to fans.
The star attributes her illness to both physical and emotional issues including post-traumatic stress from a sexual assault at age 19 and breaking her hip in 2013.
Fibromyalgia has existed for centuries, according to the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association. But, it has often been misunderstood by both patients and medical-care workers.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association.
About 10 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 3 to 6 percent of the world’s population suffer from the condition. While it can affect any age or race, about 75 to 90 percent of those with fibromyalgia are women, MedPageToday reported.
The disease is considered a rheumatic condition, like arthritis, can impair the joints and/or soft tissues, and causes chronic pain and fatigue. But unlike arthritis, it does not cause damage or lead to inflammation.
What are the symptoms?
Most fibromyalgia patients report pain and fatigue as the primary symptoms.
Concentration or memory problems, often called the “fibro fog.”
Morning stiffness, impaired coordination.
Headaches or migraines.
Irritable bowel or bladder symptoms, painful menstrual periods.
Sensitivity to temperatures, loud noises, or bright lights.
Numbness or tingling of extremities, restless leg syndrome, Raynaud’s syndrome.
Skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes and mouth.
What causes the disease?
There is no single known cause of the disease, although there may be a genetic component.
Researchers believe fibromyalgia may be the result of an injury, emotional distress, or viruses that change the way the brain perceives pain. Those with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and spinal arthritis may be more likely to have the condition, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
What treatments are there?
A multispecialty approach may be needed to treat the condition, including exercise, massage, movement therapies such as Pilates, chiropractic treatments, dietary changes, and acupuncture.
There are three medications, duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and pregabalin (Lyrica) that are approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Lady Gaga has used warm heat, an electric heated blanket, infrared sauna, and Epsom baths to help her fibromyalgia.
“It’s getting better every day,” she told Vogue. “Because now I have fantastic doctors who take care of me and are getting me show-ready.”