When the Atlanta Falcons' Tim Green retired in 1994, he wrote (in his book "The Dark Side of the Game") about all the burners and stingers he'd had to deal with - that's searing nerve pain in the shoulders, neck and arms.
But we don't think he's any tougher than the 5 million North Americans with fibromyalgia - an often-devastating condition that triggers a variety of symptoms, including chronic pain, tingling in fingers and toes and fatigue - who go out every day to make sure their nerve pain doesn't keep them sidelined from life.
No one is sure what causes fibromyalgia, and effective ways to ease symptoms have been hard to come by - until now.
A small but carefully done study recently revealed that almost half of folks diagnosed with fibromyalgia actually may have something called small fiber polyneuropathy - that is, damage to peripheral nerves.
Unlike fibromyalgia, SFPN has a clear pathology, can be diagnosed with a biopsy and is caused by specific medical conditions, many of which can be treated and even cured.
The causes of SFPN can include: prediabetes and diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids (including cholesterol and triglycerides), celiac disease, hepatitis, HIV, lupus and thyroid dysfunction.
That means if you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may be able to identify what's triggering your chronic pain and treat it effectively.
So, talk to your doctor about seeing a neurologist to rule SFPN in or out. It could be a game-changer.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.