Lady Gaga Shines a Light on Fibromyalgia: “Chronic Pain Is No Joke”

July 23, 2019

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How has fibromyalgia affected one of the best-selling musical artists of the 21st century?

In “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” a documentary released on Netflix this month, Lady Gaga describes the pain that’s characterized her life with fibromyalgia for the past half-decade.
“I have chased this pain for five years,” Gaga said. “I can still be me, and when I feel the adrenaline, and my music, and my fans, I can f****** go. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not in pain.”

Between clips of rehearsals, performances, and candid commentary about her work and personal life, Gaga allows the audience to see glimpses of her pain.

In one scene, she lies on a couch crying, describing the muscle spasms that wrack her body.

In another, she prepares for a round of injections in her doctor’s office, while her makeup team helps her get ready for an interview later that day.

“Who gets their makeup done while they’re getting a major body treatment?” she asks.

For Gaga and others, that kind of multitasking may be critical to their ability to pursue their ambitions while coping with the pain that fibromyalgia causes.

Chronic Widespread Pain

Fibromyalgia affects an estimated two percent of people in the United States.
It’s characterized by chronic widespread pain and tender spots throughout the body.

“For some individuals, the pain feels debilitating,” Dr. Kevin Hackshaw, an associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology at The Ohio State University, told Healthline.

It can also cause a variety of other symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, mental confusion, and headaches.

While fibromyalgia isn’t progressive, its symptoms fluctuate over time, getting worse during periods of exacerbation known as “flares.”

Physical and psychological stressors are common triggers of flares.

“If I get depressed, my body can spasm,” Gaga says in the opening scenes of the film.

In October 2018, Vogue released an issue that dove into the the 32-year-old pop star’s struggle with fibromyalgia.

“I get so irritated with people who don’t believe fibromyalgia is real,” the singer said. “For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result.”

People need to be more compassionateChronic pain is no jokeAnd it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.”

By showcasing her experiences, the singer hopes to help raise awareness of fibromyalgia and connect people who are facing similar challenges.

Contested Illness

While fibromyalgia can occur at any age, it’s more common among older adults.

It’s also more prevalent among women than men.

The exact cause of the condition is unknown.

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