Support sought for constant dull aching pain of fibromyalgia

Disorder often accompanied by fatigue, sleep and memory issues

Rick Stiebel

News staff

Lisa Hansen is searching for strength in numbers and peer support in a battle with fibromyalgia.

According to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that the disorder amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain processes pain signals. Symptoms sometimes begin following physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress.

For Hansen, a Highlands resident who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia five years ago, a seven-month period of work-related stress six years ago proved to be the trigger. “I got a virus that left me almost bedridden for four months,” said Hansen, a support worker for parents of children with mental health issues for 17 years. “I’ve dealt with more than my share of health issues, but always managed to fight back.” That included treatment for scoliosis in her teens, which required her wearing a back brace for two years. Fibromyalgia, however, is a constant struggle, robbing her of energy, a feeling exacerbated by a constant, dull, aching pain.

RELATED: B.C. aims to implement provincial pain strategy: patients’ advocate

One of the frustrations related to fibromyalgia is that it is difficult to diagnose, Hansen said. There are no blood tests, and it can sometimes be related to other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. It also tends to run in families, and there may be certain genetic mutations that make people more susceptible to developing the disorder. She tried acupuncture, massage and chiropractors for four or five months, without much success or relief.

Hansen finally found out she had the disorder through a process of elimination that included consultations with a host of specialists. “My doctor explained that there are quite a few Olympic athletes who deal with fibromyalgia, and only a few people go into remission. I feel like I’m a strong person and I’ll beat this but five years later, there’s no end in sight.”

ALSO READ: Half of pediatricians surveyed say their young patients have used cannabis

That’s part of the motivation driving Hansen’s efforts to launch a peer support group in the Victoria area for people dealing with the disorder. “I was in a peer support group for parents dealing with children’s mental health issues for many years,” she explained. “I know how isolated and lonely people dealing with that can feel. There are similarities because fibromyalgia is an invisible disease as well. There used to be a peer support group in Victoria for a number of years, but it closed down. I know that organizing a group like that takes a lot of work and people burn out. My goal is to start a group and ideally get enough people involved so that we can share the workload and not put all of the burden on one person.”

Hansen knows what a difference support from others can make. Her sister, Lori Ash-Root and her son, Ryland, recently took part in the Lake to Lake Walk and Marathon and chose fibromyalgia as their charity of choice. They raised $300, which they donated to MEFM Society of BC, which supports people dealing with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

“It reinforced for me that there are people out there who are managing their symptoms and dealing with the same issues you are. I’ve seen the benefits of peer support first hand.”

To contact Hansen on joining a peer support group, email Check out for more information on Fybromyalgia.


Just Posted

Sooke ‘s interest in 3D printing is growing

Technological advances ean that creation is limited only by imagination

Thief targets staff rooms at Victoria businesses

Surveillance shows man entering staff room where several items were reported stolen

Workers at auto dealerships in Nanaimo and Victoria set up picket lines

Sixty GAIN Group detailers, technicians, service advisors went on strike Friday

Canada Post carrier seriously injured in Saanich dog attack

The employee was bitten on the hand and arm

New parenting programs offered in Sooke

Boys and Girls Club is bringing popular sessions to community

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

UPDATED: Investigators confirm three died in B.C. plane crash

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Prime Minister sets 2025 timeline for plan to remove fish farms from B.C. waters

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

Canada’s Attorney General looking to larger reforms on doctor-assisted death

The Quebec Superior Court gave Ottawa just six months — until March 2020 — to amend the law

Wagon wheels can now be any size: B.C. community scraps 52 obsolete bylaws

They include an old bylaw regulating public morals

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

Suspect steals 150 pairs of cosmetic contacts from Nanaimo party supply store

Incident happened at Pattie’s Party Palace on Rutherford Road on Thursday

Most Read