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.