Fibromyalgia (FM) or fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a medical condition that causes pain all over your body long term. The main complaint that all FM patients have in common is widespread pain around their body.
This is however usually complemented by one or more of the following additional symptoms as well: muscle stiffness, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, headaches, increased sensitivity to pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or problems with mental processes (such as concentration and memory).
Some experts say the reason behind fibromyalgia is genetics, but others suggest the trigger is usually a stressful event in the patient’s life that caused them a physical and/or emotional trauma and suffering – examples may be an operation, injury, giving birth, relationship break down or death of a loved one.
The scientific reasons are not fully known or confirmed, but the underlying origin is most often related to inefficient levels of chemicals in the brain which causes the central nervous system process pain differently from healthy people.
Should these sound familiar to you, make sure you turn to a doctor or medical professional who could help you with advice, and if needed, with treatment that will ease your symptoms and pain.
The bad news is that unfortunately all these symptoms won’t disappear completely, so it is absolutely key to set up to a lifestyle and routine that supports full awareness and active commitment to deal with fibromyalgia, which requires some adjustments from you to live your life.
Three types of help are available to assist you with deal with the situation, of which typically a combination is used:
- Medication: painkillers and antidepressants. These don’t always work for everyone, so do consult with a medical professional.
- Talking therapies and counselling
- Changes in life style: adjustments, exercise, relaxation or medication.
The good news is that there are several techniques and methods that can help you make your daily life easier. Most of these are self-help types, these are normally helping you in a way how you respond to your physical and emotional pain. Please find a few useful tips below:
Accept your condition and accept change – It will make a huge difference for you to understand what you are dealing with. There is nothing wrong making necessary changes in your life to make it easier and simpler for yourself to get through the day and week.
Keep calm and take it easy – Beside pain the most common joint symptom is fatigue for FM patients. Work, house chores, family, friends and hobbies can require significant energy from you on a continuous basis and these can drain you down.
Assess your commitments and tasks in terms of how much effort and stress are required from you, and try to minimise (or potentially eliminate some of) those that take too much from you. In addition, doctors recommend being slow and steady, try to avoid big challenges.
Recharge: To compensate for all the draining tasks and activities, make sure you find some easy and relaxing activities that fill you up with positive feelings and make you feel happy and recharged.
Adapt and modify your daily activities – As simply day-to-day tasks may cause you pain, it is a good idea to be creative in finding alternative ways for completing these tasks.
Create schedules – People suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome often talk about the overwhelming feeling of a busy day. It is found however that it is easier to tackle the day ahead when you have a known schedule to follow.
You may find that doing washing up or feeding the pet at a certain time a day, and doing laundry or shopping on a certain day of the week will remove some stress and fear.
Plan ahead: You may find that planning out your day ahead will make it a less scary thought in your mind. You may use a list or sticky notes for tasks that can be done quickly.
Careful exercise – As movements can cause you pain, the first thing in your mind not to do too much. However, exercise is shown to bring you benefits by removing pain and stiffness, improve balance and enhance your wellbeing. The keywords here are careful and gradual, build it up slowly.
Find those activities that you are comfortable with and don’t overdo them. Gentle stretching or walking has positive impact, or you may try pilates or yoga, for example. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, five times a week.
Healthy sleep: it is knows that sleeping can be painful and difficult for fibromyalgia sufferers, so fatigue and restlessness takes over during daytime hours. Be aware you may not be able to control this, and you may find yourself sleeping during an activity when you wouldn’t want to.
Studies also show that fibroyalgia patients are more likely to develop other sleeping problems in the future.
If you can’t get the relaxing and sufficient enough sleep during the night, you need to ensure to compensate for it with some restoration naps. Scheduling applies well for sleeping as well, so try to stick to the same time going into bed.
Meditation and relaxation: Beside your body, your mind needs attention as well. It plays a huge part in how you feel. Learn some techniques to meditate and relax to calm your mind. This could be especially helpful before trying to sleep.
Heat and water-based exercise – A lots of sufferers find easing feeling from low-impact water-based exercise.
Heat in general have positive effects, so you may try a hot bath or shower, a hot foot bath, or applying heat pads on the most affected areas.
In addition, take benefit of a hydro-therapy group session in your neighbourhood if there is any.
Cognitive behavioural theraphy (CBT) – It is one that has been identified as particularly useful. It doesn’t remove the problem, but helps dealing with your situations in a more positive way by changing the way you think and behave. Our pains, feelings and thoughts are all interconnected, so a positive mindset can help hugely.
Your daily life will definitely present some complications, but following the above advise will help for certain. If you find that you struggle and cannot manage on your own, remember that you are not alone.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – may it be from a professional or from friends, family and neighbours. There is absolutely no problem with asking for help.
You will be required to make certain adjustments about how you live your life, but doing those it will be definitely possible to remove the unnecessary difficulties for yourself.
Find out what works for you, and this may be a trial and error process; but keep working at it. Don’t give up!