I don’t know what’s worse: contracting a disease for no known reason or knowing exactly what you did to get that disease or not being able to manage it completely. Whichever choice sucks, especially when that disease currently has no known cure, but its symptoms can be mitigated. It’s most common in women, and you’re also more likely to get fibromyalgia if a family member has it. We still have a lot to learn about fibromyalgia, but there have been many developments in managing the symptoms, as well as the physical and emotional pain of having the disorder. Even though you can’t completely rid yourself of fibromyalgia, you can get treatment that will help you live your life on your own terms instead of your disorder’s.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder known to include musculoskeletal pain throughout the body, problems with sleeping, and certain areas of cognitive function. A more popular theory as to why this happens has to do with brain function and improper processing of pain. Sometimes certain triggers are recognizable in prompting the onset of symptoms, such as physical trauma, infection, presence of other diseases, or psychological distress. However, there are cases where symptoms develop for no apparent reason.
- Pain in several areas (head, neck, shoulders, chest, elbows, hips, knees)
- Fatigue and/or sleep problems
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Trouble with memory or concentration
- Numbness/tingling in extremities
Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Keeping stress levels low will make symptoms more manageable. If your brain is calm and happy, it makes sense that it will be able to manage pain more easily than when you’re overly stressed. So, learning to control your emotions is important. There’s meditation, massage therapy, deep breathing, art therapy . . . anything that helps you stay calm. Effective approaches will vary from person to person.
Staying active often eases intensity of symptoms. If you’re not on an exercise plan, it may be painful to start one, so start off easy. After sticking with it for a while, you’ll hopefully notice your symptoms receding as your body strengthens. Your doctor might recommend physical therapy sessions, or offer suggestions for a home exercise routine that’s right for you. Low-intensity workouts will be best, especially to start, so try walking, light swimming or water aerobics, or biking. Stretching is always a good idea, too.
There are several options for medication to manage pain.After talking with your doctor about how fibromyalgia affects you, s/he can advise you on meds that will tackle your specific symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers may do the trick. Otherwise, your doctor might write you a prescription for something stronger. Antidepressants help many people deal with pain and fatigue, and seizure medications have also worked for fibromyalgia patients. Sleeping pills can help you get through the night without waking up from the pain, leaving you more rested for what the next day will bring.
Therapy can teach you to cope with your symptoms.Since fibromyalgia can also come along with depression and anxiety problems, talking to a therapist might help you work through them so you can enjoy life again. By talking to someone, you can learn to dismiss your negativity and believe in yourself, strategies to cope with stress, and what triggers your pain. Support groups might be helpful, either in person or online. Websites like the National Fibromyalgia Association offer information and testimonials to get you through the day. Keeping your mind healthy helps keep your body healthy.
Overall, try and lead a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, staying active, and holding a positive outlook on life will all help you be and feel healthier, which might lessen the effect of symptoms. At the very least, it might make it easier for you to manage them. Avoid caffeine and try to get a good night’s sleep every night to minimize fatigue. Don’t set the bar too high or too low for yourself for what you can accomplish. Do something every day that you enjoy and makes you happy. You may have fibromyalgia, but you still have a life. Do what you can to stay busy and avoid dwelling on the pain.
When you have fibromyalgia, you can’t just take a magic pill to make it go away. You have to worry about the big picture of managing your life in a new way. Some of those changes might seem impossible, like starting an exercise program when maybe you haven’t had one in years, and now your body hurts every day on top of it. Or dragging yourself out of bed every morning and going to work. Not doing these things may be easier, but it’s not what will help your recovery. People who keep their minds and bodies active tend to do better than those who drop everything.
Depending on what you do for a living, you may not be able to continue it full time. See if you can drop your hours down or switch to a new profession. Either way, doing something you enjoy doing makes your life feel worth it, whether you have fibromyalgia or not.
Low-intensity exercise. A strong body is generally better prepared to take on pain and sickness. Don’t push yourself too hard, or you may feel worse. Slow and gradual is the way to go. Your doctor can help you determine a good plan. You could get a fitbit to help you track and get started, it just counts the steps.
Acupuncture. In this treatment, needles are placed into certain points in your body that are supposed to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Not for everybody, but some people feel results.
Proper rest. Since the main component of fibromyalgia is body pain, sleeping can be a challenge. Try to establish a routine. Get enough rest at night without needing naps throughout the day. Sleeping pills and relaxing before bed can help.