“Imagine having pain all over your body, constant headaches, feeling exhausted all of the time, and your mind always in a fog,” Terry McSweeney recently told a local audience. “Now picture that no one believes you, not even your doctor. That is what fibromyalgia is for many.” Terry lives with this disease every day.
A severe shortage of pain specialists in the U.S. means patients have to rely on primary care physicians who are not trained in treating pain, including the integrative, multidisciplinary pain approach that patients with fibromyalgia need.
Pain is the number one reason people seek medical treatment. Yet U.S. medical schools allot a median of nine teaching hours on pain and its management, or .03 percent of the total curriculum hours over four years of training. Canada provides 19.5 hours.
“Untreated chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia have a devastating impact on individuals, often resulting in disability. Careers are cut short, lives are derailed. No one is immune from developing chronic pain,” said Jan Chambers, founder and president of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association.
Myths and stigmas about fibromyalgia influence how people with this neurological disease are treated. Many patients report that it’s like the worst flu you’ve ever had, but it lasts forever. Some patients recall their severe pain starting after motor vehicle accidents, surgeries, or serious illness, and never leaving.
Volunteer Together Walk organizers are trying to break the myths and stigma, and they need your help. Please register for a Together Walk because together we’re stronger. And if you’d like to be a volunteer to spread the word even farther, we’ll ply you with gentle hugs!!