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Help for individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia

Imagine being in constant pain, continually fatigued and experiencing tremendous difficulty concentrating. Now imagine going to doctor after doctor and being told that nothing is really wrong with you. For individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia, many likely suffered the ill-effects of the illness for years before receiving a formal diagnosis.

Until fairly recently, many within the medical community doubted the legitimacy of fibromyalgia. While individuals with fibromyalgia often experience specific symptoms, there is no medical test that conclusively proves the existence of the disease. As a result, for years individuals who complained to their doctors about widespread muscle pain, sleep disturbances and general symptoms associated with depression were forced to undergo a series of tests and eventually prescribed drugs that were only marginally effective.

Today, fibromyalgia has gained widespread acceptance within the medical community as being a legitimate and highly disruptive disease. However, doctors still know surprisingly little about what causes some individuals to develop fibromyalgia or how to effectively treat the often crippling symptoms associated with the disease.

In some cases, an individual may begin to exhibit symptoms commonly associated with fibromyalgia shortly after experiencing a physical or emotional trauma. In other cases, however, the disease seems to develop over time and is not tied to any single event or injury. The disease manifests in sufferers as widespread pain through the body which is often accompanied by extreme fatigue and cognitive disruptions which inhibit an individual's ability to think clearly and process information.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, several prescription drugs have been proven effective in treating symptoms and many individuals also benefit from exercise and counseling. In some cases, known treatment methods do little to treat the painful and debilitating symptoms associated with the disease. These individuals are often unable to participate in certain activities or hold full or part-time jobs. For these individuals, Social Security disability benefits can provide income to afford basic necessities like housing, food and clothing while he or she attempts to deal with and find relief from their physical, mental and emotional pain.

Source: Newsday, "Doctor's Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia," Dr. Stephen Picca, June 17, 2014, "Fibromyalgia," 2014 

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