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7 Practical Tips on Living and Managing Fibromyalgia

Updated on April 7, 2011

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

Prepare Ahead

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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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

NFA National Fibromyalgia Association

Get Connected. Educating – Encouraging – Empowering

Fibromyalgia Community

Join a community with forums, information, and related content.


Source for information and education about chronic widespread pain.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease

The National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services

Disclaimer: The information posted here is not a substitution for professional medical advice. Consult your physician for medical care and treatment options.


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    • WVBards profile image

      Fibromyalgia Daughter 5 years ago from Seattle

      Such a helpful article! I think it's always important to remember to not only strive to cure yourself, but to strive to live with the syndrome in the meantime, and helps on how to do that are always much appreciated.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Alzel, thanks for your comments. Fibromyalgia is a tough condition to live with, sometimes unbearable. I commend you for taking the time to read this article, for your wife and for yourself.

      Thank you.

    • alzel127 profile image

      Alex Zelahy 6 years ago from Indiana

      My wife was found to have this over 35 years ago and suffers daily. Thank you for the post

    • viveresperando profile image

      viveresperando 6 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

      I am glad a stumbled on this. Great share!

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks ar.colton for sharing your thoughts. I'm glad you found some insight on this article. For those of us who struggle daily with fibro, we are grateful for any knowledge that can be shared.

      It is a challenging illness and to bring it to light makes a big difference.

      Thanks for commenting. Stay strong my FMS sister.

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 6 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Such a great hub with the simple and all-important advice for those of us with FMS.

      There's been plenty of new research, too, into the neurological mechanisms behind the disease. They may be no closer to a cure, but at least we're getting closer every year to full acceptance in the medical community.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you Superhero for sharing your thoughts here. I'm glad you found some useful tips in dealing with chronic pain. I hope you can share this with your sister as well. Thanks for commenting.

      Thank you Theresa. Glad you followed Superhero over. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and welcome.

      I believe those of us who suffer from fibro can help each other. Sometimes it is a trial and error battle and if we can learn what works for one person it might help us, and then sharing is all worth it.

    • Theresa_Kennedy profile image

      Theresa Kennedy 6 years ago from Minnesota

      I followed SuperheroSales here, and very glad I did! I too suffer from FMS and enjoy reading any information I can find. Your hub is so well organized and full of useful information and resources. Visually it was a treat to read from beginning to end (which is also inspiring to me since I'm still learning how to use all of the tools hubpages offers). Consider me a new fan!

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      HealthyHanna, thanks for sharing your information. I have heard of magnets before, but never tried them. With Fibromyalgia, a lot of stuff is trial and error. We stick with what works and let go of what doesn't. I'm glad you found something working for you even if it's a little relief.

      Thanks for sharing, appreciate it.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

      I hate fibromyalgia. It is a constant companion. I have found magnets help. ....not the whole answer, but helps. Be sure they are EQL magnets. Not all magnets do the trick. Because our bodies are a network of nerves running every which way throughout the body, it is important the magnetic energy lines up with it correctly. Chiropractors call EQL magnets 'the shot gun effect'.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you UrsualRose, I'm glad you found this encouraging in your walk with Fibromyalgia.

      I agree, we need support and we need to help each other.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments. :-)

    • profile image

      UrsulaRose 6 years ago

      Yet another fabulously AWESOME hub article.

      You say it 'how it is' and I for one appreciate that as only a Fibromyalgic/Fibromite can truly understand what it is like to live and cope with Fibromyalgia.

      We need to educate others because there are times when we definitely need support not sympathy.

      Your writing has got me smiling again. :-)

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you Ms. Unique.

      God Bless You.

    • Ms. Unique 55 profile image

      Ms. Unique 55 7 years ago from Edmond OK

      I like You. Your writing is very deliberate and non pretentious. I appreciate your point of view, and I look forward to reading more of your words.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Dian, yes it is a painful and very misunderstood disease. I'm glad you found it interesting.

      I've had fibromyalgia for over 12 years now and coping with it is a daily decision.

      Ruchira, you are good friend to forward this on to her. I hope she can find it useful.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 7 years ago from United States

      FaithDream...such an informative hub. I have a friend suffering from this disease and will be fwding your hub to her.

    • Dian'swords4u profile image

      Dian'swords4u 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Very informative. This covers a vast majority of the things needed to keep the discomfort at a lower level. My heart goes out to those who have this disease. Some people can be very cruel to those who suffer form this. Good Hub

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you Faithful Daughter. Managing stress and finding support for these conditions can be challenging. I tend to think of Lupus and Fibro as sisters. Both conditions are often misunderstood and mimic each other.

      I am glad you found this article helpful. Take care.

    • Faithful Daughter profile image

      Evi Lopez 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Voted up useful! Great advice for sufferers and informational for those that don't understand this disease. I have both, Lupus and Fibro, and they are both very misunderstood diseases. Stress management is one big key in keeping the flares away. Thanks for writing this.