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Are women monopolizing Fibromyalgia?
Sunday 17 July 2011
Contrary to popular belief, women do not have a monopoly when it comes to suffering from Fibromyalgia. Men and children are not spared from this disease.
Risk factors for a child include having a parent or sibling who has FM. A child involved in competitive sports that stretch the muscles such as tennis, dancing, gymnastics, or any other sport that involves hours of practice and competition is also at greater risk, as is a child with the presence of scoliosis or forward posturing (rounded shoulders). Many times back strains related to postural changes have turned into full-blown FM. Trauma—either a major one such as a fall or car accident, or the cumulative type such as what comes from certain competitive sports—is a major risk factor. Infections such as mononucleosis or other viral infections are risk factors as well.
In a recent survey of people younger than 18 with FM, girls still outnumbered boys by 60 percent to 40 percent, but the gap is smaller. As you can see boys have a high chance of becoming ill from FM as well.
Some initial symptoms of Fibro include leg pain, fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, abdominal pain, and cognitive difficulties.
One young male in western New York developed FM at age 11. His symptoms began with exhaustion. After telling his parents that he was so tired even after sleeping all night, he took a downward spiral to the point of being unable to go to school or function during the day. His Fibro went undiagnosed for a long time because his illness was brushed off as a behavioral problem. Unfortunately, children are stereotyped and misdiagnosed, or even diagnosed as having nothing wrong with them.
Imagine, then, what it must be like for an adult male to have FM because it has been said to be a “woman’s disease.” With Fibro in men, there are many differences in symptoms, treatment, and testing. Many males are reluctant to admit severe pain and discomfort and as a result might report milder symptoms or none at all, which makes it more difficult for their health care provider to diagnose them accurately. Because of social expectations of males, many do not receive the help they need, and they are forced by society to deal with their pain quietly.
If you are a man who believes you might have FM, a great help to you might be to go to a support group. Those in the group would be more understanding because they are dealing with FM themselves and could be a great help to you.
There are a few support groups for Fibromyalgia in western New York. One meets the first Thursday of every month at 12:00 p.m. at the Amherst Library, 350 John James Audobon Parkway, Amherst. Another meets the first Saturday of every month from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston. The “Facing up to Fibromyalgia” group another in Buffalo, and you can contact Joanne Kushka at 716-823-8461 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out their schedule. You can also find support groups near you by visiting www.fmaware.org/.
The above originally appeared here.
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