“But you look fine.” How many times have you heard this? I’ve heard it a lot. People can’t see that you have fibromyalgia, so they don’t understand what it is or the symptoms that go along with it. Or they just think you are making up your fibromyalgia pain. “It’s all in your head.”
This blog post can be beneficial to those who suffer from fibromyalgia, as well as for those with loved ones or those that just want to know a little more about it.
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On a scale of one to ten, fibromyalgia pain can swing from the low end to the high end of the chart. The pain is always changing in duration and strength. It can be light in the morning and excruciating by evening. You might have pain free days and then turn around and have several days of pain in a row.
Most sufferers have ‘trigger points,’ points on the body that cause pain when touched. The medical experts have identified 18 common areas in the neck (both front and back), in the fold of the elbow, just below the knee, in the lower back and just above the top of the thigh. These common trigger points are instrumental in getting a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The Mayo Clinic website has an image that shows these points.
It doesn’t matter who you are. You may work, homeschool, stay home with the kids. Fibromyalgia pain can hit anyone, anytime.
Some things can make fibromyalgia pain increase in intensity. These include insomnia, not getting enough sleep, mood changes, illness, stress, and a lack of exercise, to name a few.
When you get more fatigued than usual with fibromyalgia, it can make the pain get worse. This fatigue is not an ordinary feeling of tiredness you get from overexertion, but rather a deep state of not being able to rest the body. Eventually, this fatigue can significantly affect your health if it’s not managed.
Stress affects the whole body as well. It can cause headaches, muscle stiffness, upset stomach, irritability, and problems sleeping. If not treated, stress can lead to health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and more.
The treatment for fibromyalgia should address you as a whole and not just focus on the times when your condition is worse. You will not find a cure for fibromyalgia. But you can effectively manage the pain so that you can continue to lead your life with modifications.
Maintaining a time every day to unwind and sleep when your body needs it is essential to keeping the often overwhelming fatigue on the low end of the pain chart.
Try to set yourself up with a routine. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Experts say to limit your naps during the day. But, I find that most days I need a nap. I try to limit it to 30 minutes or less.
I wrote a post about reducing stress and improving sleep. You can read it here.
Consider a change of diet. It is becoming more and more common to discover a link between fibromyalgia and gluten intolerance. Eliminating gluten and other food sensitivities may help. The Whole30 and the Auto Immune Protocol are just two programs that might be beneficial to try.
I did the Whole30 starting in August 2017. It was a good starting point. I realized I did have a gluten sensitivity even though I was negative for Celiac disease. I still need to try to eliminate a few other food groups. I have noticed that if I eat too much sugar now, I have more achiness and headaches.
Want to know how the first day of the Whole30 went? Click here.
It seems impossible to exercise with the pain, but there are a few things that might be beneficial. Water aerobics, swimming, yoga, biking, or even just walking at a leisurely pace can help.
I prefer to use a recumbent bike. Then I can ride in any weather. And I can read a book or watch tv at the same time. Although with now having clonus (involuntary muscle spasms) in my legs, it makes it a little more difficult to ride.
Wow! I just did a quick search on Amazon, and they have come down in price. Here is an Amazon’s Choice for only a little over $100. I think I paid $300 for the one we bought over ten years ago.
There are several choices for therapy.
I think regular chiropractic appointments are very helpful. When your spine is out of alignment, it can cause many different problems.
Acupuncture is also beneficial. Scared of needles. There are needleless options in acupuncture, too.
Physical therapy is also an option. It can help with stretching muscles and increasing strength. They might even recommend hydrotherapy (pool). That would be less stress on the body.
Getting massages from those trained in understanding conditions like arthritis can give you some relief from the joint and muscle pain.
Or invest in a percussion massager. I have heard of some selling for as much as $400! But I found the HoMedics HHP-350 on Amazon for under $30. It has different speeds as well as an option for heat.
I got one for Christmas and love it so far. It is a little heavy, so you may want to have someone help you with it. Besides, that allows you to relax a little more, right?
Medication can help to take the edge off the pain when it reaches the point it becomes unbearable. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with pain and sometimes inflammation.
Some antidepressants have been used to treat fibromyalgia. Savella and Cymbalta are the two most common medications prescribed. Make sure to talk to your doctor about possible side effects from these or if they are right for you.
Other possibilities are muscle relaxers and anti-seizure medications.
Medications are used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. They may or may not be useful. If you have other health issues or autoimmune disorders, they might not work for you. For example, I tried Savella and had to stop after a few days because of adverse reactions. But I have heard it has helped many people.
Find a support group in your area. Or, in the day and age, get on the Internet. There are several different groups you could join, especially on Facebook.
If you don’t feel comfortable in a group setting, consider counseling. Being able to talk about your pain can help to ease some of the stress and burden that comes with this type of illness.
Would you like some encouraging verses for pain and wellness?
A huge step is to accept that you have a condition that will at times limit your ability to handle things. This was very hard for me to do. I used to want to be able to do it all…work, watch the kids, clean the house, hobby activities. But then I realized how overwhelmed I would get and how it was affecting me, mentally and physically.
On the days when the fibromyalgia pain is worse, don’t be ashamed to ask for someone to help you do the tasks around the house that you would ordinarily do. If you don’t have help, try to come up with a plan to do a little every day.
Save the things that don’t tax your strength for the days when the flare-ups are at their worst. You won’t be able to predict the days when your symptoms will deplete your energy, but you can plan ahead so that the impact of those days aren’t as hard to deal with.
Pamper yourself. You deserve it.