What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disease that affects your bones and muscles. It is characterized by a widespread muscle-skeleton pain followed by fatigue, insomnia, mood swing, memory issues, burning and tightness. Fibromyalgia amplifies your pain sensation by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men are. Fibromyalgia co-exists with anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
You ache all over. The symptoms include:
- Draining fatigue
- Muscle pain, burning, tightness
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering, this is called “fibro fog”
- Low pain threshold
- Sensitivity to cold, heat, sound and light
- Numbness or tingling in arms, face, hands, legs, feet
- Dry mouth
- Bloating, constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome
There is no blood test to determine if someone has fibromyalgia or not. However, a diagnosis is made when a person has had widespread pain for more than three months with no underlying medical condition that could cause the pain.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, treatment is aimed at reducing its symptoms. A doctor might prescribe anti-depressants such as Cymbalta or pregabalin for fibromyalgia. Almost all doctors emphasize the importance of exercise in reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but there is no one way to treat it. Doctors use a combination of medication, exercise, and therapy to help their patients with fibromyalgia. Some patients find acupuncture, yoga, and tai chi to be helpful in reducing their symptoms.
Fibromyalgia self-care tips
- Try fibromyalgia friendly-exercises, these are low impact activities such as walking, yoga, tai chi that build endurance, strength, stretch your muscles
- Stick to a structured routine to reduce stress, and get your body use to moving which will then reduce tension in your muscles
- Practice relaxation techniques to help calm your body throughout the day
- Set a bedtime routine
- Reduce stress, acknowledge that there are things you can not control
- Pace yourself, prioritize your tasks, don’t push yourself too hard to finish your to-do list
- Communicate your needs with your loved ones
- Engage in social activities whenever possible
- Know and accept your limits
- Accept help when you need it
- Balance your meal with a low-fat, high protein diet and drink plenty of water
- Join a support group
Explore these tips and find what works for you. Understand that there will be bad days even when you follow your routine and stay within your limits.