I have always suspected there was a connection between the experience of a life-altering trauma and the development of Fibromyalgia.
It just made sense that when our bodies come under attack, our body chemistry would be altered! It appears now that Science is considering this theory. Maybe it takes “celebrity” to turn on the light.
Lady GaGa, recently spoke about her experiences with the effects of a sexual assault. In an interview with Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, she said, “I feel physical pain. I actually suffer from chronic pain and it’s from this paralyzing fear that I’ve experienced for almost 10 years. When something traumatic happens, your brain disconnects so that it can handle it, but it stays in your body, in your tissues, physically in you.”
Childhood Abuse and Fibromyalgia
Living in chronic fear, constant uncertainty, panic, never feeling safe……a child wonders why they feel different, wishing they could just shrink back into the darkness, always feeling that they don’t belong. This is their childhood.
A child that lives in an abusive home is comparable to a Veteran in a war zone, waiting for the next bomb to drop! You are a prisoner, you have no power, you are dependent on your captors. Your house is not a “home”, it has become your prison.
In some studies, researchers have found that abuse during childhood is associated with higher rates for chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, and fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that women and men who have reported childhood abuse (sexual or physical) are 65% as likely to have fibromyalgia and twice as likely to have chronic fatigue syndrome (progressivehealth.com)
Babbette Rothschild says, “Pscho-social factors contribute to the predisposition for Fibromyalgia and a person becomes more susceptible when emotional, sexual or physical abuse occurs.”
Many Veterans with PTSD have Fibromyalgia!
“The traumatic moment becomes encoded in an abnormal form of memory, which breaks spontaneously into consciousness, both as flashbacks during waking states and as traumatic nightmares during sleep. After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go into permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.” Judith Lewis Herman
In her book, The Body Remembers, Babbette Rothschild, says, “Many of these veterans with PTSD have Fibromyalgia. In fact, I speculated then (and do so now) that they are one and the same thing. I will acknowledge there is the possibility that they are somewhat separate but akin to identical twins. The symptoms are identical.”
“In short, PTSD’s are triggers from bad experiences which bring on: pain, fibromyalgia, clenching, sleep disorders, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, feeling of the lack of safety, hyper-ventilating, nightmares, night terrors, catastrophizing, startled easily, flashbacks, depression and a host of other symptoms.”
Other Possible Causes
Although trauma and abuse are common contributing factors for fibromyalgia, they are not the only factor. Genetics and infections can also be triggers. Current research has looked at the role of infections in fibromyalgia, and the results there are also somewhat surprising. Latent infections, particularly infections in the nervous system, may contribute to fibromyalgia symptoms and pain sensitivity.
Genetically, studies have shown that individuals who have family members with fibromyalgia or other pain sensitivity disorders are more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves. (progressivehealth.com)
If you are living with the pain of Fibromyalgia and have lived through abuses and trauma and believe it is contributing to your Fibromyalgia pain, I urge you to consult with your healthcare provider right away! They will create an individualized treatment plan which will highlight important assessment information, define areas of concern, and establish concrete goals for treatment.
I wish you well in your journey to a better quality of life. 🙂
I invite you to read more about my journey living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.