Fibromyalgia: Is Your Spouse Making it Worse?

Many of you have fibromyalgia or know someone with fibro, a condition where the pain is constant throughout the body. The pain can create sensations as though the skin is burning, the joints have arthritis, or the muscles are tearing. Fibromyalgia is a miserable condition to suffer with.

As many with fibromyalgia realize, there is not a single lab test, MRI, or X-ray that pinpoints exactly what is wrong. With that being said, the last twenty years has provided an explosion of information about this condition, including recent findings regarding pain nerve dysfunction (termed small fiber neuropathy), high prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease, and the inability of the brain to shut off the pain in those with fibromyalgia. In other posts, we have discussed these topics, and though there is not a single lab test, there are several factors which explain why fibro sufferers experience such a great deal of pain. However, the intent of this article is to discuss the spouse, not the mechanics of fibro.

A recent article out of the September 2014 edition of the Journal Rheumatology, discussed the effects of a spouses viewpoint on the pain and suffering of a fibromyalgia patient. We all know that our spouses can have a strong impact on how we feel about ourselves, and this article demonstrated exactly that. In essence, if your spouse discounts the fact that you have something “actually wrong with you,” the probabilities say that you will experience more pain, and this is referred to as “Invalidation” in the health psychology literature.

Bottom line is that if your spouse rolls their eyes at your pain, then it is wise to see one of your physicians you trust about the literature regarding the causes of fibromyalgia. The literature is irrefutable. It is easy to be skeptical, especially in the face of ignorance. This hot off the press article from arguably the most respected journal in rheumatology and pain asserts that you as a fibromyalgia sufferer may have less pain if your spouse opens their eyes to the true causes of the condition and accept it as a real entity, which it undoubtedly is.

Martin Rutherford, D.C., Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner

1. Ghavidel-Parsa B, et al. Correlation of invalidation with symptom severity and health status in fibromyalgia. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2014 Sep 8. pii: keu355. [Epub ahead of print]



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