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Living with fibromyalgia

Imagine going to bed at night. You get in bed but can't fall asleep, or you fall asleep, but wake up throughout the night. When your alarm clock goes off the next morning, you're exhausted and your body aches. The aches do not go away. All day you're in pain. On top of that, you are extremely fatigued. You may have headaches, depression or irritable bowel syndrome. A simple change in weather or even high levels of stress worsens your body aches. Unfortunately, this is a daily experience for many Georgians who live with fibromyalgia.

While not all cases are this bad, some are worse. Those most affected by fibromyalgia are women between the ages of 20 and 50. The exact form of the disease has been questioned in the past. While some called it a myth, doctors and researchers knew that it was a very real condition. Currently, the disease is described as a musculoskeletal condition that is also affected by the body's central nervous system. However, it cannot be diagnosed from an X-ray or other lab test.

Many people with fibromyalgia experience symmetrical tender points throughout their entire body. These tender points are generally muscles or fibrous tissue points found on the elbows, knees, neck, shoulders, hips and other places. Many patients feel pain in these areas. While some have mild pain, others express radiating or shooting pain.

As you may have already determined from this short description of fibromyalgia, living with this disease can be extremely difficult. In some cases, it is debilitating to the point that a person cannot work. Fortunately, fibromyalgia is on the list of physical conditions that qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits. If you have fibromyalgia and have been unable to work for a year, or if your doctor has said you will not be able to work for at least a year, applying for disability benefits may be a good option. It can offer an income for those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families.

Source:, "Dr. James Figueroa: Explaining fibromyalgia," Aug. 2, 2011

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