Grassroots action rules the day, with community-organized events taking place as opposed to gatherings hosted by a national organization. Examples of activities include daylong seminars about fibromyalgia-related medical issues, a fundraising Zumbathon party, picnics, and bracelet making.
Everyone is welcome to attend Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day events, but even wearing a T-shirt can help support the cause.
International Awareness Day began in 1992 as a way to inform people about chronic immunological and neurological diseases, a category that includes fibromyalgia. May 12th was chosen for its symbolism–it marks the birthday of famed nurse Florence Nightingale, who is believed to have suffered from fibromyalgia, but went on to achieve great success despite her debilitating symptoms.
Symptoms of the disorder include chronic joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and sleep problems. The array of potential physical and mental disturbances varies by person, but can include impaired memory, dry eyes, depression, and vision problems. This complex disorder has no definitive diagnostic test and researchers still aren’t sure what causes it, although they’re hot on the case.
In 2014, the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology published a study revealing that people experiencing poor sleep, anxiety, and other health problems were more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Still, researchers stopped short of saying those issues directly cause the condition.
About 10 million people in the U.S. have the disorder, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association, and most of these people are women.
Because fibromyalgia affects so many facets of a person’s life, treatment requires a comprehensive lifestyle approach.
Methods of managing the disorder include gentle exercises such as yoga or water aerobics, relaxing nighttime routines to improve sleep quality, and pain management techniques including acupuncture, relaxation exercises, and nutritional supplements. A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet may also help reduce pain.
Experts generally recommend low-impact aerobic exercise to avoid aggravating pain and other symptoms. A program of walking, stretching, and strength training may be particularly beneficial when combined with an educational program about managing the disorder, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Do you plan to participate in International Awareness Day activities?
Image by Sara via Flickr