Fibromyalgia – It is not all in your head

If you are reading this because you suffer with Fibromyalgia I expect you, like thousands of others have been told or have questioned whether it is all in your head. As an experienced Chiropractor specializing in Chronic pain I am here to tell you that it is not. Here are the most important things I have learnt: 

  • Your pain is always real – Whether they can find a physical cause for the pain on a scan or a blood test or not, the pain you are experiencing is REAL.
  • Pain is exhausting – Feeling tired all the time is part of Fibromyalgia. Your body is in constant fight or flight and this is tiring. Don’t give yourself a hard time, if you need to rest then rest.

So what is actually happening?

  • Your brain is interpreting pain differently. Most commonly this starts to happen after a traumatic physical or emotional experience. 
  • Let’s imagine a feather is stroking your arm. The signals that something is touching your arm are carried up the spinal cord to your brain and your brain decides whether this sensation is a threat or if it is ok. In a normal situation, you would find the feather non-threatening and might even enjoy it. In Fibromylagia, the brain interprets this sensation as something threatening, so instead of feeling pleasant it feels like a knife or painful stimulus.
  • Let’s now imagine that that feather is stroking you when you have had a stressful day, you have only had 3 hours sleep, you can’t stop eating chocolate because you feel tired and in need of sugar and your inner voice is telling you you aren’t good enough. Now that feathers light tough feels like your whole arm is on fire. 
  • And after all of that, your body feels shattered, like it has just been in a fight with a lion, but the lion was never there. 

So, in theory yes – your brain is controlling your experience of pain, but is it all in your head? No. It is time to let go of feeling like a fraud and questioning whether you are imagining it. In my next blog we will discuss how to take back some control and calm your nervous system down.