A widespread disease, found amongst mainly women, Fibromyalgia causes chronic pain within the body, resulting in fatigue and constant discomfort. It is a disease of the muscles and can often be mistaken as arthritis, which is a disease of the bones. For years, doctors thought that the pain patients described was simply imaginary (they thought it was merely a psychological problem, not a physical one). However, today, doctors know that Fibromyalgia is an actual disease caused by real pain in the body. People with this disease often can feel tender in spots on all parts of their bodies, such as their backs, arms, legs, and neck, and can feel sore and inflamed.
The cause is unknown as to why a person experiences so much continual pain. This is why doctors often do not know how to treat this disease. Sometimes, it can be due to a person being in a serious car accident or, that they experienced some traumatic event in their life. But this is not always the case and thus, Fibromyalgia is often dubbed as mysterious.
Sadly, Fibromyalgia is not curable. But don’t be discouraged! A person diagnosed with this disease must realize that there are ways to help minimize the symptoms and keep their energy levels up. The key to remember is that each Fibromyalgia patient has specific needs. One person’s pain may be different from the next person’s pain. But at the same time, there are common goals that all can share to help ease the pain and make life worth living.
1. Go see your doctor.
A person with Fibromyalgia needs to speak with their doctor about the chronic pain issues. They first need to make certain that they do not have some other problem—that this is truly what they have. The ways to find this out is to have their doctor do blood work: check all levels for thyroid, hormones, iron, blood type, etc. Second, they need to tell the doctor if there are any chronic health issues within their family, to see if anyone else is experiencing what they are. Once everything else is ruled out, and possibly after having visit a specialist, they can then identify that they have Fibromyalgia. The reason is that some doctors can write off other health issues and label them as Fibromyalgia, without knowing truly if that is what they are.
2. Be in tune with your body.
This is the first thing that every person suffering from Fibromyalgia has to pay attention to—their body. If they do not, then they will not have any idea how to handle the pain in their body, and hence, live life to the fullest. They need to first discover where the pain exists in his body. For example, is it the neck? Hip? Ankle? Lower back, maybe? Does your right side hurt more than his left? Second, they can then identify what activities can cause more or less pain. But it is of course difficult to cope with Fibromyalgia: always consult a medical professional for additional assistance (don’t rely on self diagnosis).
3. Move around.
Plain and simple: keep moving. A person who has problems with constant pain in their body could want to plop himself or herself down in a chair or fling themselves onto the bed and never get up again. But this will not help at all. Keeping active essential, in order to keep your muscles and joints active, and to prevent long-term, severe pain from completely taking over. You need to find various ways to exercise your muscles without doing them harm, but only good. Very gentle forms of exercise such as light pilates, yoga, and swimming are excellent means of keeping the body active.
4. Rest up.
At the same time, a person cannot overdue it. You need o take times to rest. And sometimes, you need to rest often. It can be multiple times throughout the day, to make sure that if you have over-stressed the body, that it has time to heal and recover. Of course, this can vary from person to person. Some people may not need to rest, say, every hour, but others might need to. The point is that a person with Fibromyalgia needs more rest than a healthy person does. Pain can cause considerable fatigue so resting often can prevent the pain from triggering so often and so much.
5. Eat well.
It is important to eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. Those who have Fibromyalgia can be sensitive to not only pain but also certain foods. Those with Fibromyalgia often have other health issues, including allergies or sensitivities to various foods. Moreover, those with Fibromyalgia often have lower immune systems. Thus, a person should eat meals that include most, if not all, of the essential nutrients to maintain a healthy diet. For example, starting the day off with eggs, whole grain toast, fruit, and yogurt gives a person the boost she needs to start their day. It is common for a person with Fibromyalgia to wake up tired and worn out, even after having had an 8-9 hour sleep. Thus, eating well and often throughout the day can keep up her energy up and balance their sugar levels.
6. Take vitamins.
That being said, if having been tested through a series of blood work, a person finds that they are low in certain nutrients, then a vitamin supplement may be necessary. For those living here in Canada, it can be a struggle to get the proper amount of Vitamin D, due to not getting enough sun exposure. Hence, a vitamin D supplement should be taken daily, especially for those with Fibromyalgia.
7. Talk about it.
Do not suffer alone. People with Fibromyalgia can find it hard to cope on a daily basis. Being surrounded by people who can either sympathize or empathize with the suffering can do wonders for that person. If there is a support group for those with fibromyalgia, then the person can consider joining. If they have close family or friends who can be of help, even if by just talking through the pain, then they will function much better. Also, it can be helpful to have others aware of one’s pain so that they understand why they make the decisions that they do. Then others can understand why they decided not to stay out late at an event or needs to sit down on a bench in the mall, before finishing shopping.
8. Laugh as much as possible.
A last suggestion, but perhaps just as important as any others, is laughter. It is almost miraculous how a good belly laugh, a chuckle, or a giggle can ease the tension in one’s body and relieve the pain. Sometimes, the pain will even disappear for a time. Try it.
Fibromyalgia can be a serious disease, but it does not need to control your life. Do not despair! You do not need to suffer alone, and should in fact avoid this at all costs. Try some of these strategies so that you can cope with this disease so that you can control IT instead!