What is fibromyalgia, the chronic illness Lady Gaga suffers from?

Lady Gaga has revealed she is suffering from fibromyalgia [Photo: PA Images]
Lady Gaga has revealed she is suffering from fibromyalgia [Photo: PA Images]

Lady Gaga has revealed she is battling with chronic illness fibromyalgia, which causes sufferers to feel pain all over their body.

In her upcoming documentary ‘Gaga: Five Foot Two’, the pop singer opens up about what it’s like to live with the disorder that is estimated to affect up to 800,000 people in the UK.

She decided to name the condition she’s suffering from for the first time in a bid to raise awareness and create a dialogue about fibromyalgia.

“In our documentary the #chronicillness #chronicpain I deal w/ is #Fibromyalgia I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it (sic),” she wrote on Twitter.

[Photo: Twitter/ladygaga]
[Photo: Twitter/ladygaga]

Since sharing the details of her condition, other sufferers have taken to social media to open up about their own battles with the condition.

“I have it,” one woman replied to Lady Gaga’s tweet. “It affects my sleep so badly (from the pain) and I sleep during the day (from the tiredness)”

“It’s really rubbish, isn’t it?” another sufferer tweeted. “I’ve lived with it for 23 years and been officially diagnosed for 12 now.”

“The hardest thing struggling with an invisible illness is people think you look fine but on the inside you’re in pain and feel horrible,” another woman shared about the disorder.

According to the NHS website fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.

As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also suffer from other symptoms including fatigue, muscle stiffness, insomnia, headaches and bloating.

Though the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, experts believe it could be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages carried around the body.

Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, but the condition is more common in women, affecting around seven times as many females as males and typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50.

In many cases, the condition appears to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, like a death or traumatic birth, but the NHS also explains that some people could be more likely to develop fibromyalgia because of genes inherited from their parents.

Sufferers can find it difficult to get a diagnosis because there is currently no specific test for the condition, and symptoms can be similar to a number of other conditions.

At the moment there is no known cure for the disorder, only symptom management, which can include: medication – such as antidepressants and painkillers, talking therapies – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling and lifestyle changes – such as exercise programmes and relaxation techniques

Lady Gaga has been posting on Instagram about the remedies that have helped her deal with fibromyalgia.

She sites an infrared sauna session followed by an ice bath as one thing that she claims “…helps me to keep doing my passion, job and the things I love even on days when I feel like I can’t get out of bed.”

Alternative and complementary therapies are also said to be useful in helping to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. These include physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and yoga.

The NHS also recommends that sufferers might find support groups a vital resource.

Fibromyalgia Action UK is a charity that offers information and support to people with fibromyalgia. Not only do they have a helpline 0300 999 3333, but the charity also has a network of local support groups and an online community detailing news, events and ongoing research into the condition.

Another support group sufferers may find useful is UK Fibromyalgia.

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