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A Very Short History of Fibromyalgia

I am trying to give meaning to the word fibromyalgia, to make the invisible visible, to help loved ones understand.


Fibromyalgia is one of the most common pain conditions in the world. It’s estimated to impact nearly 3-6% of the population. It is real.


And it is widely misunderstood. Calling it a pain condition doesn’t begin to cover the range of symptoms and experiences.


Today I asked myself why I started this blog and I made a point of writing down that it’s not about sympathy or empathy, but after some reflection, it’s clear the latter plays a role. With empathy comes understanding and with understanding comes the undoing of stigmatization.


Fibromyalgia has been on the medical community radar since the early 1800s; and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It was first considered a rheumatic disorder and named fibrositis to reflect the theory that pain came from inflammation at tender points.


By 1976, the medical community renamed it ‘fibromyalgia’ from the Latin word “fibro” (fibrosis tissue), and the Greek terms for “myo” (muscle) and “algia” (pain). This is not the same as saying fibro has only been around since the 80s.


The 90s brought the first official set of criteria for diagnosing fibro to the table. They have since been revised with new knowledge. When I was diagnosed, it was with the tender point method and qualitative analysis, as well as a rigorous ruling out of other potential ailments including lupus and cancer.


It took until 2007 for there to be a prescription marketed for treating fibro. Side note, remember treating is not akin to curing. There is no cure for fibro.


But there is a way forward. Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about remission. Specifically, the concept, the competition in recovery culture, and an action plan.


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