7 Practical Tips on Living and Managing Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is characterized with multiple symptoms. A person living with Fibromyalgia experiences chronic pain, characterized as wide-spread pain, all over the body. Finding ways to manage this condition and live with Fibromyalgia takes a proactive approach.
This article includes 7 tips to manage living with this painful condition.
A condition that affects 1 in 50 people living in the United States and it's estimated that 5 million Americans suffer from this disease. It is also recognized that women account for 80-90 percent of sufferers.
Fibromyalgia (fi-bro-my-AL-ja) syndrome (FMS) produces chronic wide-spread pain which can become debilitating at times. The pain typically moves from one portion of the body to the next.
Diagram for 18 tender points
Some of the symptoms for those suffering with Fibromyalgia
Besides chronic pain and fatigue, some people with Fibromyalgia may experience a variety of other symptoms including:
- sleep disturbances or lack of quality sleep
- cognitive and memory problems referred to as “fibro fog”
- morning stiffness
- headaches or migraine
- numbness or tingling of the extremities
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- restless legs syndrome (RLS)
- increased sensitivity to temperature, loud noises, or bright lights
Fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome rather than a disease with a collection of symptoms.
The slightest amount of pressure on tender point locations can cause pain.
Doctors diagnose a person with Fibromyalgia by identifying the presence of sharp pain in at least 11 of these 18 tender points.
What is Fibromyalgia
Warm Water Therapy Helps
Yoga, Tai Chi, Stretching aids Muscle Relaxation
Get a good night's sleep
Chronic pain that cannot be seen is often misunderstood and balancing daily activities can be challenging.
As a person living with fibromyalgia for over 12 years, finding support for this condition can be frustrating.
7 TIPS TO MANAGE FIBROMYALGIA
1. PREPARE AHEAD - Do whatever you can to lighten your load before waking in the morning which may bring morning stiffness.
- Prepare things ahead of time. This is essential to daily living. As much as you can, prepare for the day ahead. This will make things easier.
- Keep it simple.
- Balanced lifestyles with regular routines will alleviate problems with sudden schedule changes.
- Prepare what you will wear the night before. Lay out your outfit or decide what clothes you will wear ahead of time.
- Prepare your meal planning. Keep menus simple and try to mix things up a little. Having breakfast for dinner is ok.
2. EAT HEALTHY
- A healthy diet which balances a variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and proteins, will increase energy levels.
- Whole grains also help manage weight. The USDA recommends at least 3 servings each day. Foods such as cereals, breads, and pasta can be beneficial.
- Drink plenty of water. Toxins in the body are flushed with increased water in-take.
- Don’t forget those smart snacks for those in-between meals. Learn to avoid the sugary snacks, or foods that may disturb your sleep.
- As with everything, use moderation and good judgment. One cookie is fine, but don’t eat a handful.
- Don’t skip meals, proper diet and nutrients are essential for a good immune system.
- Avoid fast food meals as they generally will impact overall energy levels.
Most importantly, talk to your doctor if you need help with a nutritionist.
3. INCREASE ACTIVITY
- Low impact exercises like walking daily.
- Stretching is very important, but keep it light. Don't overwork the muscles.
- Many benefit from yoga or tai-chi.
- Swimming is beneficial in warmer waters or heated pools. Water aquatic exercises are offered at many health clubs and park districts.
4. GET PLENTY OF REST
- Get a good night’s sleep. Create an environment in your bedroom that conduces sleep.
- Darken the room, keep it cool, and quiet.
- Relax and unwind before retiring to bed.
- Warm baths can help as well by relaxing aching muscles.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
- Avoid heavy exercise too close to bedtime.
- Avoid heavy meals at least 2 hours before retiring.
- Maintain regular sleep habits. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Find a Good Support System
5. Manage stress. Learning to live with the stressors of life takes practice. Meditation and prayer can reduce anxiety and calm tension.
6. Prioritize your activities – Ask others for help. Delegate if necessary. Learn to say no to some activities and build in flexibility.
7. Find a support system – A local support group that meets on a regular basis can boost your frame of mind. Encouraging family members that nurture and accept your condition are a wonderful source of support.
FM Aware Magazine
Living with Fibromyalgia
Latest Developments on Fibromyalgia
For over 10 years, doctors diagnosed this condition based on sufferers having pain in 11 of the 18 tender points.
Today there's a new method of approach under evaluation.
Proposed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) a new set of criteria for diagnosing patients for Fibromyalgia is underway. By focusing on the common symptoms and accessing scores from a widespread pain index scale.
Published in the Arthritis Care & Research issue, referenced in May 20101, this new set of criteria may replace the traditional method doctors have long used to diagnose Fibromyalgia.
By relying on a pain index score and a symptom severity scale, this new method of rating (if present for at least 3 months) would aid doctors in diagnosing Fibromyalgia.
Although further testing still needs to be established before this is measured, this new criteria method may supplement the existing criteria to diagnose Fibromyalgia.
1.Referenced Article by Wolfe, F., Clauw, D. J., Fitzcharles, M.-A., Goldenberg, D. L., Katz, R. S., Mease, P., Russell, A. S., Russell, I. J., Winfield, J. B. and Yunus, M. B. (2010), The American College of Rheumatology Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia and Measurement of Symptom Severity. Arthritis Care & Research, 62: 600–610. doi: 10.1002/acr.20140
More Resources on Fibromyalgia
Great resource for everything Fibromyalgia including exercises and healthy eating http://www.livestrong.com/fibromyalgia/
NFA National Fibromyalgia Association
Get Connected. Educating – Encouraging – Empowering http://www.fmaware.org/site/PageServer.html
Join a community with forums, information, and related content. http://www.fibromyalgia.com/
Source for information and education about chronic widespread pain. http://www.fibrocenter.com/index.aspx
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease
The National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services www.niams.nih.gov.
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Disclaimer: The information posted here is not a substitution for professional medical advice. Consult your physician for medical care and treatment options.