Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.
Chronic widespread body pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia. Most people with fibromyalgia also experience moderate to extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to touch, light, and sound, and cognitive difficulties. Many individuals also experience a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, lupus and arthritis.
The pain of fibromyalgia is profound, chronic and widespread. It can migrate to all parts of the body and vary in intensity. FM pain has been described as stabbing and shooting pain and deep muscular aching, throbbing, and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling, and burning are often present and add to the discomfort of the patient. The severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Aggravating factors that affect pain include cold/humid weather, non-restorative sleep, physical and mental fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety and stress.
In today's world many people complain of fatigue; however, the fatigue of FM is much more than being tired after a particularly busy day or after a sleepless night. The fatigue of FM is an all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with occupational, personal, social or educational activities. Symptoms include profound exhaustion and poor stamina.
Many fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder that prevents them from getting deep, restful, restorative sleep. Medical researchers have documented specific and distinctive abnormalities in the Stage 4 deep sleep of FM patients. During sleep, individuals with FM are constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity, limiting the amount of time they spend in deep sleep.
Additional symptoms may include: irritable bowel and bladder, headaches and migraines, restless legs syndrome (periodic limb movement disorder), impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes and mouth, anxiety, depression, ringing in the ears, dizziness, vision problems, Raynaud's Syndrome, neurological symptoms, and impaired coordination.
"We, the undersigned, call on the British Government to ask that DWP medicals for Fibromyalgia be carried out by a qualified Rheumatologist, and that the decision made about the receipt of benefit not be based on a point scoring system".
At the moment the DWP are using an outside agency to carry out medicals on people with medical conditions, and using a point scoring system to decide whether or not people are entitled to benefits. Most of the medicals are carried out by a nurse or other health care professional in less than an hour by asking a few targeted questions. With a condition like Fibromyalgia it takes a qualified Rheumatologist to diagnose the condition and understand the treatment that needs to be implemented to attempt to manage the pain of the condition.
A Rheumatologist would understand the pain and associated problems that Fibromyalgia sufferers face on a daily basis. Yet the nurse or health care professional that fills in the forms for the medical sees someone for less than an hour with no understanding of the condition and how it affects each person individually. It is not possible for someone of this level to understand the issues that Fibromyalgia suffers face, and the medicals should at the very least be carried out by a Rheumatologist. During the medical you are assessed on how much you can move in certain directions, at no point are they taking any interest in how much pain you are in whilst this is going on. Or how many pain killers you have to take afterwards. A favourite question is how far can you walk without discomfort, the answer for a most Fibromyalgia sufferers is over 200 meters if they absolutely have to, what they don't ask is how much pain are you in? Most Fibromyalgia sufferers are in pain 'before' they start to walk, walking just increases the pain.
The point scoring systems is stupid and unfair and needs to be abolished, Fibromyalgia sufferers are being consistently turned down for benefits that they should be entitled to as this is a condition recognised by the DWP and I quote “Professor Aylward, on behalf of the DWP, reaffirmed that the DWP recognises fibromyalgia as a real and disabling condition, and not just something that is "all in the mind". If this is recognised by the DWP as being a “REAL and DISABLING CONDITION” then why are diagnosed sufferers being refused DLA and ESA?
It has been reported that Fibromyalgia Sufferers often suffer more pain than people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Despite the DWP's statement, Fibromyalgia sufferers are being discriminated against as the condition is seen as 'invisible' like many other conditions.
The Change DWP Medicals for Fibromyalgia Syndrome petition to Number 10 Downing Street was written by ClaireSparey and is in the category Health at GoPetition.