Increased sensitivity to pain is a hallmark of the disease, which affects 3% of the Brazilian population
On May 12, World Fibromyalgia Day is celebrated, a date that seeks to disseminate information about the disease and, mainly, to alert to the importance of the diagnosis – which can often take years to occur. It is a chronic disease with no definite cause, but it affects millions of people around the world and whose central feature is increased sensitivity to pain.
“Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is still unknown to many, despite the high prevalence in the population. It is estimated that it affects 3% of Brazilians ”, calculates the rheumatologist at the State Hospital Mário Covas and researcher at the Multidisciplinary Center for Clinical Studies (CEMEC), Dr. Anna Maura Fernandes. According to the specialist, the disease is more common in women than in men, especially in the age group between 30 and 55 years.
The most characteristic symptoms of fibromyalgia are increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, non-restorative sleep and generalized pain throughout the body. Reports of “pain in the joints” and in the muscles are quite common, precisely because the painful symptoms have nonspecific localization. The feeling of waking up tired is also a frequent complaint among patients.
The diagnosis is not simple and requires the experience of the doctor, who must observe the symptoms, listen with great care and sensitivity to the patients, in order to suspect the disease. “Anyone who identifies with some of the mentioned signs should seek a rheumatologist to better investigate this condition and, if the disease is confirmed, start the correct treatment”, reinforces Dr. Anna Maura Fernandes.
The treatment of fibromyalgia is based on drugs and today there are several drugs under study, which increases the prospects for better control of the disease in the near future. In addition, regular practice of physical activity under medical guidance is recommended and fundamental in improving the symptoms, disposition and quality of life of patients.
In this context, the Brazilian Society of Rheumatology (SBR), classifies aerobic exercises among the main treatments against fibromyalgia, that is, those that move the whole body and accelerate the heartbeat. Current studies indicate that this seems to be the best way to reverse the increased sensitivity to pain, which is the central feature of fibromyalgia. In addition, non-medication guidelines that help a lot are for self-care and self-knowledge, in addition to psychological support in some cases, to learn how to deal better with chronic pain on a daily basis.
“The types of physical activities to be practiced must be discussed with the doctor, respecting professional guidelines and also individual limits. In addition, the drug treatments that may be prescribed need to be followed properly, so that this set of measures effectively contributes to the control of pain and the improvement of quality of life ”, warns the average rheumatologist Anna Maura Fernandes.
What would a patient with fibromyalgia want to ask family members? Love and support, for sure! However, a survey by Abrafibro – Associação Brasileira dos Fibromiálgicos asked this question to people with the disease and other equally important situations also emerged. Not making fun of or making jokes, believing in the disease, helping with daily tasks and making less judgments were some of the answers.
World Fibromyalgia Day has the role of disseminating information about the disease, so that it becomes known to the population and, from then on, there is more support and less prejudice.