How did fibromyalgia affect one of the 21st century’s best-selling music artists?
In “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” a Netflix documentary released this month, Lady Gaga describes the pain that has characterized her life with fibromyalgia for the past half decade.
“I’ve been stalking this pain for five years,” said Gaga. “It could still be me, and when I feel the adrenaline rush, my music and my fans, I can quit. But that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering. ”
Between rehearsal clips, performances, and heartfelt comments about her work and personal life, Gaga allows audiences to see flashes of her pain.
In one scene, she is lying on a sofa crying, describing the muscle spasms that shake her body.
In another, she prepares for a round of injections in the doctor’s office, while her makeup team helps her prepare for an interview that day.
“Who does makeup while receiving important body treatment?” He asks.
For Gaga and others, this kind of multitasking can be critical to her ability to pursue her ambitions while facing the pain that fibromyalgia causes.
Generalized chronic pain A
Fibromyalgia affects approximately two percent of people in the United States.
It is characterized by widespread chronic pain and sensitive spots throughout the body.
“For some people, the pain seems debilitating,” Dr. Kevin Hackshaw, an assistant professor in the Ohio State University Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, told Healthline.
It can also cause a variety of other symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance, mental confusion and headaches.
Although fibromyalgia is not progressive, its symptoms fluctuate over time, worsening during periods of exacerbation known as “outbreaks”.
Physical and psychological stressors are common triggers of rash.
“If I get depressed, my body can spasm,” says Gaga in the opening scenes of the movie.
In October 2018, Vogue published a problem that was immersed in the 32-year-old pop star’s fight with fibromyalgia.
“I’m so angry with people who don’t believe fibromyalgia is real,” said the singer. “For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and panic disorder, which causes the nervous system to become overloaded and as a result has nerve pain. “
“People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is not a joke. And every day he wakes up not knowing how he will feel.
By showing her experiences, the singer hopes to help raise awareness about fibromyalgia and connect people facing similar challenges.
Although fibromyalgia can occur at any age, it is more common among older adults.
It is also more common among women than men.
The exact cause of the condition is unknown.
Historically, many medical professionals have treated it as a psychosomatic condition with no physical cause.
Although the findings of modern research have challenged this structure, some people remain skeptical of the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the claims of chronic pain.
According to Janet Armentor, PhD, associate professor of sociology at California State University Bakersfield, the disbelief of medical professionals, co-workers, friends, and others contributes to the stigma many people with fibromyalgia face.
“One of the biggest challenges is that this disease is disputed between the medical establishment and the general population,” Armentor told Healthline.
“There is a lot of disbelief and lack of understanding,” he added. “And in the interviews I did with women who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia, some spoke of the challenge:‘ This is real. This is not on my mind. Actually, I’m feeling real symptoms and real pain.
Over the past decade, researchers have identified biochemical changes that occur in people with fibromyalgia.
“Studies have shown that there are documented biochemical changes in these patients. “For example, you can get spinal fluid from fibromyalgia patients, and you can see elevations in certain neurochemicals,” said Hackshaw.
“So it’s not an invented diagnosis,” he added. “It’s a real nervous disorder that manifests as diffuse musculoskeletal pain.”
Treatment is available.
For now, there are no simple laboratory tests available to diagnose fibromyalgia.
Instead, doctors rely on patient symptom reports, following the criteria adopted by the American College of Rheumatology in 2010.
Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are a variety of treatment strategies available.
For starters, doctors often recommend lifestyle changes and other non-pharmaceutical treatments.
“We know that exercise requires gular is essential to try to minimize some of the symptoms, ”said Hackshaw.
“There is also a good body of research that suggests that meditation and other types of mindfulness exercises may be beneficial to relieve some of the pain,” he added.
If these strategies are not sufficient, doctors often prescribe a low-dose tricyclic antidepressant (ACT) or a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).
“These drugs are generally not used because of their antidepressant characteristics, but because they increase the levels of certain neurochemical compounds in nerve endings, and these increases lead to a decrease in pain signals that go to pain processing centers in the brain. brain”. explained Hackshaw.
Calcium channel blockers can also help block signs of brain pain.
In addition to biomedical interventions, recognition and social support are also important for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.
“One of the most important findings from my research is that because of their disbelief and misunderstanding, they tend to isolate themselves, which can lead to a wide range of social and welfare problems,” said Armentor. .
She suggested that Lady Gaga and other high profile advocates may help raise awareness of fibromyalgia and help others with the disease feel less alone.
“Fibromyalgia is often so invisible from the outside that people don’t recognize that it’s happening to the people around us. So I think for someone with a high profile to say, “I’m experiencing this and I understand what you’re going through.” This is very important, ”he said.
“Lady Gaga doesn’t want to let fibromyalgia define her,” he added. “There are still things she wants to achieve. But she knows the price and she has to manage what is important to her and what she must do to cope with this disease. And I think it’s a very useful message.