Lady Gaga’s tour-busting fibromyalgia diagnosis: What you need to know

“‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels, how it feels.”Lady Gaga

The lyrics from her 2015 song may now have new meaning for superstar singer Lady Gaga, who has postponed a portion of her world tour because of a worsening case of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition she says she has experienced for a while.

Lady Gaga, 31, opened up about her battle with the illness to fans on Twitter last week, which has raised interest in what the disease is and how it is treated.

What is fibromyalgia?

The word “fibromyalgia” comes from Latin and Greek origins: The Latin prefix “fibro” refers to fibrous tissue, while the Greek word “myo” means muscle and “algos” means pain. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep problems and memory and mood issues.

The condition affects 2 to 8 percent of the general population, according to a 2014 review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, with similar rates across countries and cultures. Women, particularly young ones, are more likely to develop the condition than men.

There is also some association noted with other diseases like tension headaches, anxiety and depression.

Matt Slocum/AP
Lady Gaga performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons in Houston, Feb. 5, 2017.

What causes it? How is it diagnosed?

The true cause of fibromyalgia is still a mystery but doctors believe it has to do with a combination of three factors. The first of these is your genes. What we do know is that the condition tends to run in families, and researchers now believe that many genes are involved.

The second group of factors that potentially contributes to the condition are things like psychological stress or trauma.

Third, doctors also believe that in many cases, infections can trigger illnesses that, in turn, activate or aggravate fibromyalgia.

As far as where the pain originates, it appears to result from processes in the brain. Because of this, medical professionals also often refer to the condition as a “central sensitization syndrome.”

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress, or they…

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