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“Governed by the pain”: Narratives of fibromyalgia – Source: Disability and Rehabilitation, Jan 23 , 2012

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Purpose: Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic syndrome characterized by pain and fatigue. The aim of this study was to explore how individuals with FM make sense of the illness experience and integrate it into their personal biographies.

Method: Ten women from a pain management service in the north west of England were interviewed for the study. A chronological summary of each life story was produced and narrative features such as plot, tone, imagery and metaphors were identified and compared.

Results:
Findings are presented in the form of a meta-narrative incorporating all 10 narratives over five phases:

1. Making sense of FM: When I was younger, I didn’t have any problems at all;

2. Onset and diagnosis: You just feel like you’re constantly complaining;

3. Invasion of FM: You’re just trapped; trapped in this body;

4. Coping with FM: You try to do things in a pattern it will obey; and

5. Ongoing struggle: I refuse to give in to it.

Conclusions: The narrative is characterized by a lack of movement and resolution, with participants engaged in an enduring struggle against the challenges of FM. Psychological approaches that facilitate this ongoing adjustment process may prove beneficial in FM treatment and rehabilitation.

Implications for Rehabilitation

• Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic syndrome characterized by pain and fatigue.

• This study shows women with FM are engaged in an enduring struggle against the challenges this presents.

• Psychological approaches which acknowledge and facilitate the adjustment process may prove beneficial in terms of assisting rehabilitation for this client group.

Source: Disability and Rehabilitation, Jan 23 , 2012. McMahon L, Murray C, Sanderson J, Daiches A. Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesbrough; Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Lancaster, UK. [Email c.murray@lancaster.ac.uk]

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