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Daily struggle with chronic pain, disability defines patients’ lives, experts say

HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Earlier this month, superstar Lady Gaga took to social media to announce that she has long struggled with fibromyalgia.The news has put the painful and poorly understood illness center stage.

Just this week, the singer announced on Twitter that she’s postponing the European leg of her 2017 “Joanne” concert tour due to what she described as fibromyalgia-related “trauma and chronic pain.”

Gaga hasn’t offered up details of her condition, although it comes just before a new TV documentary about the singer — set to premiere Friday on Netflix — that will reportedly highlight some of her health concerns.

But one thing is already clear: the disease does, at times, pull the rug out from under the performer’s best-laid plans.

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“The pain and disability seen in fibromyalgia is typically worse than almost any other chronic pain condition,” explained Dr. Daniel Clauw. He is a professor of anesthesiology, medicine/rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan.

“[The pain] doesn’t just affect one area of the body you can avoid moving, and often is accompanied by severe fatigue, sleep, memory and other issues,” Clauw noted.

Dr. Marco Loggia added that “it can be extremely debilitating.” Loggia is associate director of the Center for Integrative Pain NeuroImaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown, Mass.

“Most of the patients we encounter in our research studies are significantly impacted by the disorder,” Loggia noted, “which sometimes prevents them from having normal work and social lives.”

Fibromyalgia was first recognized by the American Medical Association as a distinct disease back in 1987, and is “a relatively common chronic pain disorder,” Loggia said.

How common? The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) indicates that the illness affects up to 4 percent of the world’s population, and anywhere from 5 million to 10 million Americans. It is much more common among women, who account for 80 percent of patients. Although it can affect children, it is most often diagnosed during middle age.

According to Loggia, the disorder is characterized “by persistent, widespread pain, fatigue, un-refreshing sleep, memory loss, poor concentration and other symptoms.

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