What Triggers Fibromyalgia? Part 1

Perhaps the most common trigger I see and have seen for years is trauma/stress. This can be one large trauma (bad auto accident), or many small traumas over a period of time. Continual stress also adds to the equation. An example would be nursing a loved one for years through cancer or other illness. The stress is so intense and you become so involved that you really don’t notice it.

Think of it as an empty glass, Each time you encounter stress or a trauma you’re adding more water to the glass. Ultimately the water level reaches the top and starts spilling over. This is when you begin to experience the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

From my experiences in the office, I always ask about prior traumas/stress. Sometimes there are enough to fill pages, other times, the patient cannot remember any incidents. I usually tell them that over time they will begin to remember and this is invariably the case.

Stress/trauma can be physical, emotional, sexual  or mental or a combination of any of these.

We’ve probably all know someone who was injured at work or in a car accident. Even though the person was showing symptoms, the company doctors or insurance companies would claim that the person could not have been injured and the benefits would be cut. (We know that the underlying job of an insurance company is to collect premiums and payout as little as possible. The difference being the profit.).The patients are now cut off from care, their symptoms increase and ultimately Fibromyalgia rears it’s head. (I’ve seen this again and again).

For you fibro sufferers, try to think back in time. the trauma could have occurred as a child playing sports, falling off a horse, an accumulation of minor fender benders etc. Think of divorce, problems at work, problems with parents etc.

I’ve also seen over time (though I have no statistics to back this up), that approximately 10% of women with Fibromyalgia who I meet are emotionally (and sometimes physically) battered by their husbands. I can usually see this in the attitude of the husband who is very bossy, barks out orders to the wife and is not interested in the consultation, sometimes going as far as to read a newspaper while the wife and I are speaking. Sometimes the wife will appear to jump when the husband speaks. I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that spousal abuse is a huge problem and much more common than we know.

For those with Fibromyalgia, you’ve probably noticed that stress makes your symptoms flair up, thus it would make sense that trauma/stress can very well be a trigger for Fibromyalgia.

More Triggers in the next post.

Dr. Gene

5 thoughts on “What Triggers Fibromyalgia? Part 1

  1. Does it mean more if you have been through hard things, it can be worst . be for example domestic violence ,dealing with a upset x boyfriend ,and then hearing your child has been sexually abused at work <i went down after that,is this a trigger will it get better.I am trying to get ahead .But feel its getting worst at a fast rate im 39.I dont want a relationship I cant offer enough of myself anymore.My kids need me and im drained trying to be a good single mum and living a healthy lifestyle ,I hurt so much my body now my heart.

  2. Yes, the more trauma and past stresses, the worse it can be. sometimes it will get worse at a faster rate, but it’s generally and up and down process. In the long run the trajectory is generally down, though there are exceptions.

    From your descriptions, you fit the bill perfectly for a fibro person!

  3. I just want to take a minute and thank you for the hope you bring. Hope in the form of just listening and knowing that there is a Dr. out there who understands more than I do about the pain I’m in. You have no idea what that means to me and the countless others out here who suffer from this. Thank you and please keep letting us know we’re not alone out here even when it feels that way. May the Lord Bless you and yours.

  4. You’re more than welcome. I only deal with fibro in the office and understand the misery, but I certainly can’t totally understand it as I’ve never experienced. My work is to help those in the office (which I can do), and to educate and inform as many as possible since it is so mis-understood. Just yesterday a Social Worker asked me if that was the illness that causes a rash and you scratch all the time. amazing how little so many people know about it, but that is going to change. I have a plan and I will announce it tomorrow.!

  5. Dear Dr.
    10 years ago I underwent gastric bypass surgery I had great success and lost 130lbs after I started having symptoms of fibromyalgia. So for the past 10 years I have been dealing with this.
    If my diet can’t be what is good for the FMS how can I treat it? Oh I have been on every drug you listed in parts 1-5
    I live in Georgia and I can’t find anyone to help
    Please help
    Thanks Dana

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