Lady Gaga’s documentary “Five Foot Two” hopes to bring awareness to chronic illness, especially Fibromyalgia, which she has been diagnosed with.
In the trailer for her Netflix documentary, we saw Mother Monster at a doctor’s office getting injections with a painful look on her face. On Tuesday, Gaga tweeted about her chronic pain saying “In our documentary the #chronicillness #chronicpain I deal w/ is #Fibromyalgia I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it.”
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness to touch that may occur body wide or migrate over the body. Along with other symptoms, pain and tenderness wax and wane over time. Fibromyalgia (FM) affects people physically, mentally and socially. Approximately 10 million Americans (2-4%) have FM with a ratio of about 8 to 2, women over men. It occurs in people of all ages, including children. The literal translation of the word fibromyalgia is pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. But FM is much more than pain and presents with many other symptoms that vary from person to person.
Healthcare providers diagnose FM based on a combination of relevant symptoms, or how the person feels, including fatigue, tenderness, functionality, and overall well-being. Lab tests may be needed to rule out or diagnose co-existing conditions (i.e., lupus, thyroid hormone resistance, rheumatoid arthritis).
Symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary in intensity. Fatigue, sleep disturbances (sleep apnea and/or waking up unrefreshed), cognitive difficulties (memory problems or thinking clearly), and stiffness are the most prevalent symptoms reported. Additional common symptoms may include depression or anxiety, migraines, tension headaches, pelvic pain, irritable or overactive bladder, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), TMJD (including tinnitus), and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). Stress often worsens the related problems and symptoms. In a 2013 survey of people with fibromyalgia by Oregon Health and Sciences University and the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, symptoms were measured as well as the impact of fibromyalgia on daily living. (To read survey results, please click here.)
There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Multi-disciplinary approaches for management and relief of symptoms are often recommended. Medications, cognitive behavioral therapies, and gentle exercise are the most common combinations. In partnership with a healthcare provider, development of self-management strategies and long-term health goals may reduce the chronic symptoms and the frequency, duration, and intensity of periodic flares (rapid increase of symptoms). Cultural attitudes and stigmatization of people with chronic pain issues often cause people with fibromyalgia to become withdrawn from family and friends. Isolation and feeling alone to manage fibromyalgia can contribute to depression.