Are Your Horrible Cramps Actually Fibromyalgia? Here's How to Tell

Lindsey Metrus
PHOTO:

@johannapiispa

Imagine having intense, numbing pain surge through your body—the kind that makes your muscles feel tender to the touch. You're easily fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, and can't fall (or stay) asleep. You're also depressed and incredibly sore, feeling like your muscles are being stabbed with knives. This is the reality for someone with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder characterised by these very symptoms.

Aside from the debilitating pain and mental anguish fibromyalgia causes, the trouble with the condition is that it's widely misunderstood—there are no visible signs and symptoms, which makes it difficult to verbalise—or even prove—to others. And then there's the rub: According to Sara Twogood, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Keck Medicine of USC, specialists are unsure what the underlying cause of fibromyalgia is—the tip of the iceberg for those feeling misunderstood or even accused of manifesting the symptoms "in their head." However, the research community has made great strides in developing proper treatment methods and, of course, working toward the ultimate goal of finding a cure.

To learn a bit more about this painful condition ourselves and to find out which treatment methods have proven to be the most effective, we spoke with Twogood and Jessica A. Shepherd, MD, director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and SweetSpot Labs Expert. Below, their answers.

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