EARLY PHYSICAL TRAUMAS
Lady Gaga was already experiencing chronic pain for years before she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Born Stefani Germanotta, she was a hardworking pop star for more than a decade. She was known for her high-energy shows, which were filled with both singing and dancing.
But in her earlier years, Lady Gaga was a victim of many traumas, including emotional abuse and sexual assault. As a pop star and dancer, she ended up breaking a hip. Both physical and emotional traumas, such as the experiences of her youth, are often linked to the later development of fibromyalgia.
FIBROMYALGIA TAKES ITS TOLL
The toll of her high-energy performances added up. Lady Gaga broke her hip in 2013. After that, her fibromyalgia symptoms began to affect her more. The fact that she got worse after breaking a hip follows a common pattern for people with fibromyalgia. Even if a person recovers from the initial injury, later problems can develop. She developed chronic pain and had to start canceling shows. Celebrities have more resources than the average patient, but also have more demands on their time.
After dealing with pain for years, Lady Gaga ended up having to cancel a leg of her 2017 tour. Some of her other symptoms in addition to chronic pain included the following:
- Sleep problems
Other patients with fibromyalgia may also experience additional symptoms, such as:
- Widespread pain
- Cognitive difficulties (also known as the “fibro fog”)
- Migraines or other types of chronic headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis/irritated bladder
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, or severe jaw pain
She was also quoted in Vogue magazine as saying the following: “My diaphragm seizes up. Then I have a hard time breathing, and my whole body goes into a spasm. And I begin to cry,” she told the magazine. “That’s what it feels like for trauma victims every day, and it’s . . . miserable. I always say that trauma has a brain. And it works its way into everything that you do.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR LADY GAGA
Lady Gaga appears to be stepping back from her musical career at the present time. However, she continues to work using her talents in other areas. Most recently, she appeared in the movie remake “A Star is Born” and won rave reviews for her performance. Like most people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, she struggles to balance work with getting enough rest to stay well. She suffers from relapses of worsening pain after doing too much, just like most fibro patients do.
Among the treatments that Lady Gaga uses to manage her fibro flares include the following:
- Warm heat
- Electric heated blankets
- Epsom baths
- Infrared sauna
LESSONS FOR OTHER FIBROMYALGIA PATIENTS
The visibility of Lady Gaga’s openness about her fibromyalgia brings more awareness to an often-misunderstood illness. The vast majority of fibro patients are women. Most people go through the struggle of searching for doctors who will take their illness seriously. Once you find a doctor who doesn’t dismiss your illness, it can still be even more difficult to find the right treatments. Effective treatments that reduce pain for fibromyalgia are limited.
Most patients find that fibromyalgia requires a patchwork of multiple therapies. Although it is not an illness that’s “only in your head,” it does often have a component of depression and past trauma. Seeing a psychotherapist can help address any coexisting mental health issues that may be a factor.
Other specialists who may be part of your care team include massage therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and your family doctor or rheumatologist.
As Lady Gaga’s case illustrates, fibromyalgia can affect anyone, rich or poor – even celebrities. It can strike you in the prime of your earning years and create more struggles to overcome. However, with persistence and self-care, you can still find a new definition of what healthy and functional looks like for you.