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1767882 tn?1331409169

Don't know what to do

Hello MH family. I post in the addiction forum a lot I'm 72 days clean but this post isn't about me. I thought I would see if someone here may have some insight into an ongoing problem a friend of mine is having. She's 40 yrs old, suffers from migraines, takes Effexor for depression and thinks she may have fibromyalgia. She's chronically fatigued, has a lot of trouble sleeping, and she's now having a persistent pain in her lower back that wraps around to her chest and is extremely difficult to get rid of.
Last night she took 4 perc 10s and it barely touched it. She's not an addict, in fact, she hates pain pills as they give her a headache. She is unemployed, applying for disability (turned down twice so far) and has very little money.
She's very frustrated, as am I. Does anyone have any ideas here? Possible causes? Should she look into Cymbalta? How hard is it to get diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?  Help!
6 Responses
441382 tn?1452810569
First of all, congratulations on your 72 days clean!  Keep up the good work!

As far as your friend is concerned, it's not all that difficult to diagnose fibromyalgia, or at least not to get a pretty good idea that that's what the problem is.  Ideally, she would go to a rheumatologist to have it diagnosed,  but it IS possible to get a very good idea of the presence of fibro by having her regular doctor do a simple test in his office.  There are 18 tender points on the body that the doctor can use to determine the presence of fibromyalgia.  If fibro is the issue, there will be pain when these points are pressed on even fairly gently.  It IS possible to have tenderness in a couple of these places and NOT have fibro, but if there is pain in 11 or more of these 18 points, then the diagnosis is more than likely fibromyalgia.  It has also been discovered that there are actually 75 MORE tender points, but only these 18 are used for diagnostic purposes.

Here is a website address that has a diagram with the 18 tender points on it:
http://www.fibro-myalgia.com/tenderpoints.html

One of the main problems, however, with diagnosing this is that it is not uncommon to find doctors out there who don't believe that fibro even exists.  It seems to be mainly older practitioners who have this belief, but even some younger doctors are not convinced that it's an actual disease and not just a case of the patient internalizing every little ache and pain in their body until they convince themselves they are ill.  When I was diagnosed back in 1997, I had not even heard of it.  It was the doctor that told me, after doing the tender point test on me, to go home, go online and look up "fibromyalgia".  On the other hand, one of my friends had suffered for YEARS with widespread bodily aches and pains and chronic fatigue.  She finally couldn't stand it any more because it was interfering so badly with her life that she asked me if I'd go to the doctor with her.  We went and she requested that I be able to go into the exam room with her.  When the doctor came in to talk to her, he asked her what was wrong and she told him about the aches, pains and chronic fatigue and said that she suspected that she might have fibromyalgia and his exact words to her were, "Aw geez, not another one!  THERE IS NO SUCH THING!  You women read these silly magazine articles with these made-up diseases and then you all develop symptoms!  Start getting more rest and stop doing more than your body is designed to do and you won't be tired any more and your muscles will stop hurting."  He said a few other things, basically telling her it was all in her head, that she was fine and with that, he disappeared from the room and that was the extent of the visit.

I hope your friend is able to get some answers.  There is nothing more frustrating than being in pain all the time and not knowing why!  

Ghilly
1767882 tn?1331409169
Thank you!!!  Do you know anything about fibro and federal disability?
Would it help if she was diagnosed?
82861 tn?1333453911
I don't know if fibro is one of the "official" conditions that the feds consider disabling, but I do know that any application that is not supported by a doctor with solid supporting clinical evidence will be denied.  Even then, it's not a blank check.  For example, if the patient is determined to be 50% disabled, then the benefit is reduced by 50%.  Unless the condition is something terminal like cancer, pursuing a disability claim can be a very long, tortuous process to go through which is why most people end up hiring an attorney to handle it.  Most people are also denied the first one or attempts as well.  Most firms charge a percentage of whatever the final benefit determination turns out to be.

My cousin has lived with fibro for many years.  Her doctor's approach has worked well for her but the real work is up to her.  What has helped her the most is staying active in spite of the pain.  The more she's been able to stay fit and keep her muscles strong, the less bothersome the symptoms become.  It boils down pretty much to what our mothers (well, mine anyway!) always preached: excellent nutrition, maintain a regular schedule and get at least 8 hours of sleep, avoid alcohol, and get in some regular resistance exercise to keep the muscles strong.

Some fibro sufferers have found Lyrica to be very helpful with the pain if they can tolerate the side effects.  It did nothing for my cousin other than vacuum her brain out so she takes an occasional vicodin on the really days.  

Some of her symptoms may be due to peri-menopause.  Migraines and body aches are not at all uncommon when our hormones start going haywire.  Since your friend now has chest pain, she really needs to see her doctor about all this.  I hope she'll go soon and feel better!
1767882 tn?1331409169
Thank you. She went to the doc yesterday. They tested her blood for any problems with her organs. All clean. She's feeling better today. It comes and goes. I've been reading about fibromyalgia and it really fits her. I've known her for 20 years and she's had all the symptoms. Thanks again!
441382 tn?1452810569
You're very welcome!  :)

As far as federal disability, I assume you're referring to Social Security Disability?  If so, it's probably going to be difficult to get based on fibro alone.  In 1998 I applied for Social Security Disability.  At the time, I was dealing with a cervical radiculopathy that had made it all but impossible for me to hold anything in my hands because of nerve damage.  There were days when I couldn't even lift my head, I was in a perpetual state of looking down at my own feet.  I was walking with a cane just because I was so weak from being in a constant state of pain.  My hubby was smart, he urged me right from the get-go not to mess around with trying to get disability on my own, he told me to call one of those attorney groups that specialize in Social Security Disability.  So that's what I did.

I made an appointment with Binder and Binder and went to meet with them.   They took my case, which was a very good sign because if they don't think they can win, they won't take you on.  Even with the help of the attorneys I was STILL turned down three times and had to go to a court hearing with a judge.  The judge asked me a million questions about how my condition has impeded my life and I told him that I could no longer do most things for myself, that I used to enjoy walking a couple of miles a day with my dogs and now I could no longer do that, I couldn't stand at the sink to do a couple of dishes.  Two weeks after the hearing I was awarded my Social Security Disability.  Fibro was only one of the things that was listed as a problem, though.  

My hubby's dad, before he passed, was extremely ill.  The poor man couldn't get from one room to another by himself.  He had had so many surgeries he had basically been disassembled and put back together again.  When he applied for SSD, he was turned down time and time again.  He was told (and this was in the early 90s) that he could get a job where he just sat down all the time, like an elevator operator.  An elevator operator???  Who the heck had elevator operators in the 90s?  They were DESPERATE not to give the poor man any money, and they never did end up approving him.  He died about 6 months later!  Come ON!  And they wanted him to work?

I guess it all depends on who reviews your case, I don't know.  But as much as I hate to say it, I really doubt that even with a diagnosis, fibromyalgia will be sufficient to get SSD.  It's worth a try, though, she has to start somewhere.  Let me think about all the little trivial points of my case and I will post back to you.  I'll try to think of anything I can to help your friend.

Ghilly
1767882 tn?1331409169
Thank you so much! You are very sweet. My friend needs to know all this.
She may not like to hear it though!
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