Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding fibromyalgia (FM), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and unrelenting fatigue (UF) that have been taken from our on-line survey results..
Q. Will it ever go away?
A. For many patients, comprehensive treatment of the underlying causes can completely eliminate many of the symptoms and if not eliminate, then substantially reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms. It is possible for patients to achieve this level of success and lead more normal, active, and fulfilling lives. Your goal and the goal of your health care provider should be to first identify and address all the causes of your pain and fatigue. This goal can be achieved by working with a specialized physician.
Q. Is the pain that other FM patients experience as severe as mine, and do they take as many painkillers as I need to take to simply survive from one day to the next?
A. Severe insistent pain is the most common symptom of fibromyalgia. Patients often describe it as experiencing the worst flu they ever had and then getting hit by a truck. Many patients take relatively high doses of pain medications in order to physically manage simple day-to-day tasks. Keep in mind the painkillers simply mask the symptoms and do not address the physiological and underlying problems that are causing the pain. Painkillers are commonly used to relieve the symptoms. The temporary relief achieved by using painkillers is helpful as a short-term stabilizer, but is never acceptable as a long-term solution.
Q. Could this become fatal?
A. Fibromyalgia (FM), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and unrelenting fatigue (UF) are not known to be the specific cause of death to date. However, underlying etiologies that may be present in FM/CFIDS/UF patients can increase the risk for life-threatening illnesses. An example of an underlying etiology is a suppressed immune system, which may cause FM/CFIDS/UF patients to develop illnesses such as staph infections, pneumonia, and viruses that can affect vital organs. An inability to adequately fight off these illnesses or keep them in check, can lead to very serious consequences. Another common problem for FM/CFIDS/UF patients is that their symptoms can mask symptoms of a serious condition. For instance, FM patients often experience tightness in the chest, pressure on the upper torso, tingling, and numbness in the arms or on one side of the upper body. These symptoms are similar to those experienced during a heart attack or stroke. FM patients are warned not to take these masked symptoms lightly and to seek medical assistance if they occur.
Q. My doctor thinks my FM is caused by emotional problems. Can this be true?
A. While researchers and specialists in this field are making great strides to educate health care professionals, many practitioners still think that FM, CFIDS, and UF are manifestations of psychological problems and not physiological problems. High levels of stress can be a trigger for the onset of FM/CFIDS/UF; therefore, health care professionals often diagnose patients with depression. These practitioners often prescribe anti-depressants or mood altering medications, which temporarily mask the symptoms and do not lead to a long-term solution. In reality, anger and depression are often symptoms of living with chronic pain and a lack of compassion and understanding. The key to overcoming this is to find a health care provider who understands the complexities of these conditions and acknowledges that they are real diseases that are based in your body, not in your head.
Q: Are there any support groups in my area that I can contact?
A: We encourage patients to become a part of a local support group. There are several national organizations that we recommend. Please visit their websites or call for more information:
National Fibromyalgia Association: 714-921-0150
Fibromyalgia Coalition International: 913-384-4673