A Sheffield Hallam University lecturer will address the Health Secretary and other MPs tomorrow (Wednesday 11 May) at a parliamentary event that aims to raise awareness of the incurable chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia.
Dr Kim Lawson
Dr Kim Lawson, a pharmacologist in Sheffield Hallam's Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre will be discussing research into the cause of fibromyalgia and the potential treatments with Jeremy Hunt and Andrea Jenkyns MP of the Health Select Committee as well as other key stakeholders from across the health sector.
The condition causes pain all over the body and effects up to 2.7 million people in the UK. Other symptoms can include fatigue, muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping, problems with mental processes and headaches.
It is a long-term condition that is thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way in which the central nervous system processes pain messages.
Tomorrow's event in the Houses of Parliament will mark International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and has been organised by Fibromyalgia Action UK (FMAUK). It is hoped it will encourage MPs to become ambassadors for the charity in order to help the public to have a better understanding of the condition.
"Quite often, one of the toughest things for a fibromyalgia patient to deal with is the lack of understanding," said Kim, who chairs the Medical Advisory Board at FMAUK.
"People don't appreciate the severity of it and it can be quite severe to the point of even the lightest touch can cause excruciating pain.
"Only 20% of people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK and that is partly down to the complexity of the symptoms, and because there are no simple tests. But I also think it is down to the lack of awareness of the condition and that's what this event is about today."
Ella Vine, executive officer for FMAUK, said:
On average, over 4,000 people suffering from fibromyalgia live in every constituency in the UK. We know people living with this condition in every community, in every profession, and they need adequate support to cope with it.
Fibromyalgia is the second most common condition with rheumatoid symptoms, after osteoarthritis, but the knowledge among the public and medical professionals is still quite poor and we aim to help increase public understanding of the condition to improve healthcare outcomes for patients.
There are now 20 MPs who are fibromyalgia ambassadors and we hope that a proper conversation about fibromyalgia among different stakeholders, like patients, healthcare professionals, researchers and policy makers will start.