We often wonder if fibromyalgia is a progressive condition. In all the articles I have read over the years, they all state that it is not progressive. Ever doctor or specialist I have spoken to also states the same. I on the other hand, believe it can be progressive. Some individuals may be able to successfully control their symptoms and their fibromyalgia almost seems to go into a “remission” and possibly only experience fibromyalgia flares from time to time. Other people may not be able to control their symptoms causing their fibromyalgia to become very debilitating. For myself, I have had very little success on finding the correct treatment routes to help relieve my symptoms and the pain and fatigue seem to get worse as the days pass by. I have also noticed many new symptoms appear over the years – symptoms that have no other reason to be present.
I’m a member in many fibromyalgia support groups online and I’ve posed this question to many of these groups. These groups are worldwide with thousands of members. There are a lot of people who agree when I asked this question stating they too feel like their fibromyalgia has progressed and gotten worse over time. I know for a fact in my case my fibromyalgia symptoms are worse after three years then I was when I first got diagnosed. Sometimes I think covid restrictions played against me. I got diagnosed shortly before the pandemic began. Lots of assessments got cancelled and they never were rescheduled due to the restrictions being put into action. I feel like I missed out on the early interventions that could have been put into place to help me control my symptoms- swimming pools and gyms closed and in person courses on fibromyalgia were cancelled. We are often told swimming is an excellent activity for those with fibromyalgia as it is a low impact activity. How does one swim when there is no access to the facility?? I kept being told to go swimming by doctors. It became frustrating when they knew it was closed due to restrictions. I often wonder if I had been given the proper guidance if I would have been back on me feet a little easier. Instead my body desensitized itself and my fibromyalgia symptoms worsened over time.
When I first got diagnosed the pain and fatigue interrupted life to a certain extent, but now I find fibromyalgia has interrupted every aspect of my life. At the beginning the pain only affected a few areas of my body, today it is very much widespread pain. Whenever I explained to doctors or any health care provider that I hurt and have pain head to toe they would always tell me this was not possible. I always responded with, “It sure is possible, because I feel it!!” I always have disliked when I get told my symptoms aren’t possible – for the fact they are not in my body to experience it and it always makes me feel like my pain levels are being downplayed by whoever makes these comments to me.
As I stated, some symptoms have gotten worse over the years, but I still question why. I had a recent appointment with my neurologist and and I was explaining this to him. He stopped me at one point and stated that my prescription medications could also be contributing to some of the worsening symptoms. For example , irritable bowel syndrome is often common with people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’ve noticed an increase in stomach issues over the last six months. Now is it IBS or just a side effect from my medications being used. A-lot of my medications state they can cause diareeah as a result. Another example in my case is increased levels of fatigue. Now is this fatigue from fibromyalgia or a side effect from my medications?!? I do know a few of my medications can cause further fatigue to result, but to distinguish and pinpoint the cause is extremely difficult. One would have to wein off their medication to see if the fatigue improved. At this point I am not willing to take this action to find out.
Has anyone ever stopped to think about what happens to our bodies as we age? I often wonder if it is the aging process causing aches and pains to form instead of the fibromyalgia. Doctors often state younger people have a better chance to bounce back and get their fibromyalgia under control then people who are older. It proves to be true with injuries. For example, someone in their twenties will most likely recover from a broken bone faster than someone older. Can this same concept to applied to controlling fibromyalgia symptoms? I don’t have the answer, but it makes a person stop and think. When I had my MRI done on my cervical neck to rule out multiple sclerosis, the MRI reviled I have arthritis in my neck forming. The arthritis is forming at the location that I have constant neck pain- which I always thought was caused by my fibromyalgia. I often stop and wonder if my hand, foot and knee pain is arthritis forming too and fibromyalgia is not the cause of this pain. What is your thought on this? Being I’m only 38, I feel that fibromyalgia is more the culprit in my case. I used to be very active physically – always on the go and now it’s difficult to find the courage to go for a fifteen-minute walk.
What I do know is everyday tasks have become very difficult and daunting to complete. Folding laundry creates a burning sensation to form in my arms and then results in my limb feeling like I’ve been holding a ten-pound weight in the air. Brushing my hair or my teeth often leave me with the same feeling. Walking upstairs can leave me feeling short of breath, cause my legs to burn and I feel like collapsing to the ground. Cooking can leave my hands with deep down to the bone aching and numbness to the point I drop everything. Anyways… you get my point. Everyday tasks can become difficult to complete. Many of these issues I face today were never present during early diagnosis or at least to this extent. Doctors often say fibromyalgia will get worse from being sedentary and letting the pain run your life. When I attended one pain clinic, I had the kinesiologist tell me, “I can’t have you sitting on the couch all day long.” He continued to tell me I was not trying to improve. Little did he know, I don’t just sit on the couch everyday doing nothing! He got frustrated that everything he tried was not helping improve my fibromyalgia. Just because a strategy is unsuccessful doesn’t mean a person is not trying!!
Conclusion: Is fibromyalgia progressive? i guess according to research and the medical field it is not, but I believe it can be! After living with fibromyalgia for myself I feel confident saying in my case it had been progressive. Enduring chronic pain, and other fibromyalgia symptoms continuously must have some effects on one’s body. The strain from fibromyalgia flares over and over decreases a persons quality of life drastically. What about you?!? What is your opinion?! Maybe you have never taken the time to assess your situation in this depth yet.