In 2017, Lady Gaga shared on Twitter that she has fibromyalgia and “wanted to raise awareness” about the debilitating condition. She has since rescheduled tours due to the severe nerve pain she suffers from fibromyalgia and revealed to Vogue , “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 really is a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma and panic disorder, all of which throw your nervous system into overdrive and as a result you have nerve pain.” And she is not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fibromyalgia affects an estimated four million American adults – about 2% of the US population. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic other illnesses. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes sleep problems and widespread pain throughout the body that can severely disrupt a person’s daily activities and lifestyle.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The Doctor. Jacob Hascalovici, medical director of Clearing , a telehealth platform for chronic pain patients, says: “Some people who develop fibromyalgia may have experienced a physical or emotional traumatic event. For others, fibromyalgia may appear without any discernible “trigger” event. Previous infections appear to increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia, and the risk may also be increased when the body becomes very sensitive to pain and has to deal with pain triggers and memories of pain.”
Board certified internist Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, bestselling author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! says: “CFS, and its painful cousin Fibromyalgia (CFS/FMS), represents an energy crisis that triggers a key circuit breaker in the brain called the hypothalamus. This controls sleep, hormones, and autonomic function, so the switch off causes widespread dysfunction and is often disabling. Anything that causes people to expend more energy than they can produce (including viral and other infections, including COVID) can trip the circuit breaker in the hypothalamus and trigger CFS/FM.”
The Doctor. Andrew Neville, ND , a leading expert on fibromyalgia and adrenal fatigue, explains, “Ultimately, it is a dysfunction of the Stress Response System and it starts in the adrenal glands. Cortisol, your main stress hormone, serves as your body’s primary anti-inflammatory function. Your adrenal glands produce this cortisol. If your adrenal glands are overworked and you are unable to produce adequate anti-inflammatory cortisol, you will become overly inflamed. Inflammation causes pain.
Chronic inflammation also acts as additional biochemical stress, which perpetuates the dysfunction of the entire body and causes it to become overly aware of its environment. This is called ‘Central Sensitization’. If this continues to occur over time, it progresses to chronic pain and/or chronic fatigue for others. This is usually misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.