In Sweden, about 250,000 people suffer from fibromyalgia – a difficult-to-diagnose disease that can involve lifelong pain in the body.
Here you will find everything about symptoms, trigger points and treatment that relieves. You also meet Lotta, 47, who found her way back to life with the help of LCHF.
Fibromyalgia is a nightmare diagnosis that affects between two and four percent of the world’s population. In Sweden, almost a quarter of a million people live with the incurable disease that is often dismissed as imaginary.
– Some people think that mentally weak people get these pain syndromes more easily, but it may very well be the other way around: that you are a completely healthy person, both physically and mentally, who gets pain that does not go away despite countless treatment attempts, after which you finally feel mentally ill, says doctor Johan Armfelt.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
The condition is most common among women between the ages of 40 and 55 – and can travel between different body parts, from day to day. In simple terms, it is a recurring intense pain, often in the neck, shoulders and back.
In addition to pain, the following are common symptoms of fibromyalgia:
• Abnormal fatigue and difficulty sleeping
• Stomach and intestinal problems
• Morning stiffness and tingling and numbness in the hands
• Anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping
Many people with the disease also suffer from stiff muscles, especially in the morning and may have difficulty performing simple daily tasks such as walking up stairs and lifting heavy things. Other symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea and cold fingers and toes. It is important to remember that pain can vary from person to person. Some experience a constant stream of severe symptoms while others feel better at times.
Trigger points can make a diagnosis
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often difficult to determine, as it can be tricky for both the sufferer and the doctor to locate exactly where the pain is located. The pain is often diffuse and there are, for example, no blood tests that can confirm the diagnosis.
However, there are two internationally accepted criteria that must be met. First, you must have had widespread pain for at least 3 months and the pain must have manifested on both sides of the body, above and below the waist and along the spine.
The second criterion is about so-called “trigger points”.
Doctors usually examine 18 trigger points on the body that ache when you press them – and to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the person in question must have pain in 11 of these.
The direct cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but studies have shown that stress and mental overload can trigger the pain condition.
Check if you are in the risk zone with the help of Hälsoliv’s body map above.
Treatment of fibromyalgia
There is no effective and definitive treatment for fibromyalgia today, but the patient must learn to live with the disease for many years, sometimes for life.
However, the symptoms can be relieved, so it is important to derive the chronic pain as early as possible . Fibromyalgia is not a death sentence and it is possible to live a good life despite the pain.
Below you will find some important points to overcome the problems:
• Physical activity
• Good sleep
•Physiotherapy & “Tens”
Perhaps the most important point can be found at the top. If you suffer from long-term pain, it is easy to become sedentary. We simply become afraid to move and in the long run both the muscles and the condition weaken – which often worsens the symptoms.
Even if it hurts, it is important to move. It can be about shorter walks or easier physical activity. A little is better than nothing. Lighter exercise such as water aerobics and swimming are also usually suitable.
Turning to a physiotherapist is a good idea. There you can, among other things, get help with various relaxation exercises that relieve the pain.
Fibromyalgia means, among other things, chronic pain, which easily leads to a sedentary life – something that can worsen the symptoms. Photo: Shutterstock
Another method of relief is something called Tens – transacutaneous nerve stimulation. The treatment involves the nerves under the skin being stimulated by electric currents. To achieve this, you connect a small tensor device to the body, which is often available for rent or to borrow through your county council.
Another important factor is how to handle your situation. According to 1177, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has been shown to be very helpful for people suffering from fibromyalgia.
Medicine and painkillers
Because many people with the diagnosis have difficulty sleeping, sleeping pills may be a necessary option. However, there are no drugs that cure the disease. Instead, it is painkillers that apply.
For some, the pain can be partially relieved by drugs that contain the substance paracetamol such as Panodil and Alvedon. You can also try anti-inflammatory drugs that contain ibuprofen or naproxen.
It is also possible to get prescription drugs that are used for nerve damage, among other things. So-called tricyclic antidepressants such as Anafranil are often used.
However, since the pain is chronic, you should be careful about how much medicine you nibble on.
Started exercising regularly
In the spring of 2012, Lotta got acute back pain, from scoliosis that she had before but had not been bothered by. She first went to a physiotherapist, but in the autumn of 2012 she bought a card at a gym, where her daughter is an instructor.
– People had told me that exercise was good for fibromyalgia, but I thought that how can I, who is in so much pain, be able to lift something. It was terribly tough in the beginning when I got more pain, but then I discovered that training actually helped.
She decided to go to the gym six days a week and see it as her job. It was her I project. Slowly she managed more and more.
Change the diet to LCHF
The fact that Lotta also started eating the LCHF diet meant a big boost.
– Then I’m lucky to have a husband and a daughter who have supported me.
Gradually, Lotta has gotten better and better. The diet and training have meant that she has lost a full 40 kilos in weight. She feels that LCHF has helped her incredibly much.
– I do not have as large relapses of fibromyalgia and recover faster when they come. Last summer I relaxed and went back to a more regular diet, then I became very ill. I definitely see a connection between the food and the pain.
In the autumn, Lotta was able to start working again – as an hourly habilitation staff at a group home.
– I have not known where this I-project would lead, but I know it now that I have been able to start working again.
The goal is to be able to work 100 percent and she thinks this is fully feasible. She never thinks she will be completely healthy, but for Lotta it is a great benefit to feel as good as she does today.