Fibromyalgia Affects Everyone – Not Just Those Who Have It

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Editor’s note: Star-Sentinel contributor Susan Ayers struggles with Fibromyalgia.

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, led by the National Fibromyalgia Association, was observed earlier this week. This year’s campaign theme, “Fibromyalgia Affects Everyone,” focuses on the far-reaching effects of this common, chronic pain disorder—from broken lives to the financial impact on patients and society.

An estimated 10 million men, women and children in the United States suffer from fibromyalgia, which is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. For those suffering with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be debilitating, interfering with even the simplest daily activities.  Total healthcare costs over 12 months can be three times higher among fibromyalgia patients compared to patients without the disorder.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day organizers aim to educate, as well as bring hope, to the millions who suffer from it. In 1993, Tom Hennessy, the founder of RESCIND, INC.  (Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases), designated May 12 as International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND).

The date was chosen to memorialize the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the English army nurse who inspired the founding of the International Red Cross.  Nightingale contracted a paralyzing, CIND-like illness in her mid-30s and spent the last 50 years of her life virtually bedridden.  Despite her illness, she managed to found the first-ever school of nursing. Awareness Day activities take place worldwide in an effort to increase awareness of chronic pain illnesses including fibromyalgia.

The National Fibromyalgia Association is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop and execute programs dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia. The NFA publishes a quarterly magazine, “Fibromyalgia AWARE”, and hosts an award-winning website at www.fmaware.org.

While some people who have the more severe cases of fibromyalgia become disabled, others are able to continue to work and remain productive with workplace enhancements and reasonable accommodations.  Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a resource for  employees and employers.  JAN is a service of U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy.  To learn more, visit jan.wvu.edu, or call (800) 526-7234.

Local Resources

NW Roanoke FMS/CFS/Chronic Pain Support Group. meets the 4th Wed. of each month at 3:00 pm at 7013 Domaca Dr, Roanoke. Contact Karla Setchel, (540) 366-6134. Objective: “To share what is helping to alleviate symptoms, hear guest speakers relating to beneficial treatments, brain-storm on how to meet each members’ needs, offer support for each other.”

Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Pain Support Group: For fibromyalgia, CFIDS, arthritis, migraines, neuropathy and any other type of pain. Penn Forest Christian Church, 3028 Penn Forest Blvd. email: [email protected]; website: Members.cox.net/hopekeepers.

Massage: some massage therapists in the area also work extensively with fibromyalgia sufferers, using special techniques to minimize the pain associated with being touched.