Fibromyalgia: the disease in which nobody believes.

In Chile between 1% and 2% suffer from fibromyalgia, one of the most frequent causes of consultation in rheumatology. Many have suffered to be branded as exaggerated, hypochondriac, even to invent pain. Some doctors already know this diagnosis, but few validate the patient’s experience.


Pain and stiffness that can manifest in any part of the body. Tiredness, sleep disorders and affective. But it is not a temporary pain or the product of a trauma. It is rather a chronic and permanent pain, which is known as fibromyalgia syndrome or simply fibromyalgia .

Its description as a syndrome is relatively recent in medical terms. E n 1992 the World Health Organization (WHO) described as a syndrome , a set of symptoms, which has an organic cause of widespread pain in different areas of the musculoskeletal system. But it was only in 2010 when it was shown that it corresponds to a much more delocalized pain syndrome, that is, it can occur in 19 areas of pain in the body including the jaw area.

In Chile it is estimated that between 1% and 2% of the population suffers. It is currently one of the most frequent causes of consultation in rheumatology. World statistics indicate that it manifests more frequently in women (73% to 78%) than in men . The average age of the initial moment of the picture ranges from 34 to 57 years.

According to the Ministry of Health, since 2016 fibromyalgia has increased by 5% in the world population between 30 and 50 years.

Questioning pain

Being of relatively recent knowledge, those who suffer from it have problems to understand them in their discomforts and pains. “Some doctors already know this diagnosis, but few really validate the patient’s experience ,  says psychoanalyst Liliana Messina, an academic from the Diploma on Psychosomatics and Psychoanalysis at the Universidad Diego Portales (UDP).

Due to this treatment, the affected people usually seek attention with fear and apprehension. Many have suffered from being branded as exaggerated, hypochondriac, even to invent pain , says Messina. “With all this the anguish associated with the inexplicable pain increases considerably. A vicious circle is formed, of pain and anguish that reinforce each other, which aggravates the whole picture “.

Having also a higher prevalence in women than in men, experiences of gender discrimination are also described, says Messina. In them another inconvenience is added: his word is questioned. ” Women are believed less, because of social stigmas, mainly macho ,” he says.

For Stephanie Gómez, clinical and academic psychologist of the Diploma in Psychosomatics and UDP Psychoanalysis, the problem lies in the incomprehension of pain and the excess of medical prescriptions due to ignorance . For example, she explains, if someone has a depression or has pain and fatigue, they usually diagnose fibromyalgia. “It has become a rapid derivation to a chemical treatment,” he says.

Knock down myths

To break down these myths requires greater knowledge on the part of doctors and society in general. In the case of patients, says Messina, a joint treatment between psychotherapy, medication and very often kinesiological treatments is very important .

Mainly eliminate the stereotypes that exist between women and pain , warns Gómez. “You have to try to demystify the woman predisposed to this nervous nature, because you can be labeled” hysterical or hysterical and it is not like that. It is important to see beyond these prejudices linked to this nervous woman, in these cases it may be possible to talk about oneself through pain and that does not mean that it causes pain, but perhaps it could alleviate it “.

How to live with pain more fully? Some studies, says Gómez, affirm that women who had complex or conflictive love or work relationships, sometimes associated themselves with the increase in pain and that they appeared as inevitable, which was harmful. “There may be something that binds us to those relationships that make us ill, however, that is not the same for everyone. You have to study it case by case, not generalize, “warns Gómez.

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