How To Cope With Crushing Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
First a piece of good news, fibromyalgia is not a life-threating condition. Now the bad news, there is no permanent cure for fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia makes people unable to do much. Understanding how to cope with fibromyalgia condition is the first step for living a normal life.
Ongoing pain affects the quality of life. This not only affects you physically but also mentally. And if you suffer from a mental health problem, you're more likely to be more sensitive to pain.
Let's find out various ways you can handle your fibromyalgia flares more efficiently and effectively.
How to cope with fibromyalgia flare-ups
Fibromyalgia flares cause muscle inflammation, joint pain, burning pain, fatigue, and depression or anxiety.
You may also suffer from chronic pain syndrome. It happens because the nerves and spinal cord become over-sensitive. It relays a pain signal to the brain even though there is no damage or injury to the body.
By knowing the cause of the pain and the area where you need to focus can help you cope with your fibromyalgia flares more effectively.
Let's find out some ways to cope with your fibromyalgia flares.
Take a rest
When you have pain, the first thing you should do is to reduce your physical activity. A lower physical activity calms the nerve down which helps to subside the pain.
Stress commonly triggers fibromyalgia flare. Stress makes you feel anxious, depressed, nervous, and panicked.
You should identify activities which trigger your stress. It may be personal or professional activities. Then you should take steps to manage these activities to make you feel more in control and get less stressed.
Don't leave important works at the last minute because the tight job deadline will create unnecessary stress.
The painkillers are most effective when the pain has not started yet. Once the pain has started, it may take a while for these medicines to take effect.
If you know the task beforehand which may trigger your fibromyalgia, you should plan ahead with managing your pain.
This involves taking a pain killer before you begin the task. So you can keep pain in check and not make it worse. You will be more likely to take higher dose of pain killer when in extreme pain than when in either no pain or low pain.
Be careful that most of these pain killer medications have serious side effects if taken in excess or for a longer duration. By pro-actively managing your pain medications you can minimize the risk of side effects.
Research has found that Deep and Slow Breathing (DSB) technique to be effective in treating chronic pain syndrome.
The best thing with DSB technique is that you do not need any special equipment. You choose a comfortable and undisturbed place where you can lie down on your back or sit in a chair with your body supported by the chair.
You take a deep breath through your nose and fill your belly with air. You should breathe in and out through your nose.
To make sure that you are breathing correctly, put your one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
As you breathe in, you will feel your belly rise, and as you breathe out, you will feel your chest rise. Count from 1 to 4 while holding breathe in and out. You may continue doing DSB for 10-15 minutes.
Many people think that alcohol helps them cope with pain. Although alcohol does numb the brain activities which reduces the pain, but when you get sober, brain gets more sensitive to pain.
So alcohol may seem to be a good short-term solution, but it is indeed not a long-term solution. Moreover, when you have fibromyalgia-related pain, it makes it challenging to go sleep.
So cutting down on alcohol whether in pain or not will improve your long-term pain management and improve your quality of life.
When you are in constant pain, hygiene may not be at the top priority, but the clean body makes you feel fresh and active.
Good hygiene involves keeping yourself neat, clean and in good appearance. It not only boost your confidence but also reduces the risk of developing an illness.
Coping with fibromyalgia at work
Sometimes it is hard to know when your fibromyalgia flares will make you hard to perform a job. This may affect your ability to hold a job or move upward at a job.
But if you keep a positive attitude and devise a plan to work around your fibromyalgia flares then there is a good chance that you will be able to work without any issue.
Let's see some techniques you can apply at your workplace.
Be Open about it
When you have fibromyalgia, there is nothing to be ashamed about it. You do not have to hide it or keep it to yourself. You have to make several allies in your quest to live a pain-free life.
At work let your boss or supervisor know about your fibromyalgia condition. By keeping them appraised of your situation and making them aware of things which you can or can not do will make your life much more comfortable.
Let your boss know the breakdown of task which you can do without pain, task which you you can do for a short duration, and work which should avoid.
By having this open conversation with your boss, you will be able to manage your workload without triggering pain. It will also be beneficial for your boss as well since you will be more likely productive with your work.
Modify work schedule
This one may be a little bit tricky to implement. It depends on the type of work you do as it may not be possible to modify your work schedule.
But if you do have some flexibility in choosing your work schedule, then you should do so.
For example, if your work involve doing a physical task then try to schedule it in the early morning when you are fresh and have more energy.
If you get too tired by the end of the day then maybe you can start your work an hour or two early in the morning so you can get off from work early.
Similarly, if you are not very productive in the morning and it takes you some time to get back your energy then maybe start a little late in the morning.
Change work environment
It may not be possible or easy for you to change your job, but you may be able to easily modify your work environment.
The modification may be subtle or significant, but it may make your job more comfortable.
For example, if your work requires you to sit for a long duration in front of a computer and type, then make sure you have an ergonomic setup of the desk.
There are many desks in the market where you can adjust the height and orientation to make it more ergonomic.
You should also look for ergonomic keyboard, mouse and wrist rest. You may also use support braces or gloves which helps to reduce the risk of injury to the wrist.
These support braces keep your hand flat and straight in natural position. It won't let you bend it upwards which can be painful if held upwards for a long duration.
You may also change your location of desk such as near to window where you can get sunlight while you work. Natural sunlight will boost Vitamin D and also keep you in a good mood.
Take frequent breaks
Sitting or standing for a longer duration will make you feel uncomfortable and painful. Taking a frequent break can help you overcome this problem.
You also have to be realistic about things which you can do and can't do at work. Once you know your limitations then you can ask for breaks in between the task you do.
These breaks don't have to be very long. A three-minute break at 30 minutes of work sometimes should be enough for your body to adjust.
Stretching helps you relax your tense muscles, increases range of motion in your joints and provides relief from stiffness.
Any kind of repetitive motions makes muscles tight which restricts the body movement. Stretching helps you with improved circulation and blood flow in the body.
You should also know some fundamental work related stretching exercises which you can do at your desk or work place. A 5-minute stretching exercise for the neck, back, wrist, and legs can help you avoid triggering fibromyalgia flares.
How to manage fibromyalgia pain
You can't permanently cure fibromyalgia but you can manage it so you do not get fibromyalgia flares.
Let's find out some ways you can manage your fibromyalgia pain.
For many of us when we have a pain, we take a painkiller, and after getting some relief, we get back to our old lifestyle.
By accepting that you have pain, you become aware which helps you to make necessary adjustments to your lifestyle for long-term pain relief.
By acknowledging your fibromyalgia diagnosis you will be able to get support form everyone around you to deal with it head-on.
Many people with fibromyalgia condition experience breakdown in relationship. This happens most of the time because there was no open communication with others.
You may be upset and grumpy due to pain for most of the time. Others may not be able to understand the reason for your grumpiness if you don't tell them.
Acknowledging when you do not feel right and then pushing yourself to healthy activities will make you feel better.
People around you will also become more accommodating to your mood swings. They will be more willing to forgive you when you do not act your best.
It is a trap to get back to work with full force once you get relief from your pain. By over-exerting yourself you may be putting yourself at risk of burnout.
By knowing your body and the limits you can push yourself is essential.
You should spread out your daily activities throughout the day to not overwork yourself. Carefully plan your rest and breaks.
Keep your physical activities at an average level throughout the day. The strategically planned daily routine will help you reduce the risk of fibromyalgia flares.
This is especially true when you are starting an exercise. You have to start slowly and then gradually build the intensity and duration of your workout.
Set Realistic goals
You have to be realistic when setting your daily goals. You may think that you can work at the same level as a person with no pain, but it may not be practical for you.
when setting any task, you have to be practical, and factor in the several rests and stretch breaks you have to take.
By putting unrealistic goals, you may be at risk of pushing yourself too far with your physical abilities and trigger your fibromyalgia flares.
Control your thoughts
Negative thoughts and depression are very common in fibromyalgia patients. The level of pain you feel may be out of proportion to what's going on in your body.
By controlling your negative thoughts, you can push yourself out of downward pain spiral.
Get yourself distracted
When you're in pain, it is tough to keep your mind off it. But the longer you keep your focus on pain, the worse the pain will get. One strategy is to get yourself distracted.
You should keep yourself busy with activities which you like doing. It may not be completely take away the pain, but it will help you reduce the experience of being in constant pain.
Become physically active
Regular physical activities such as exercise, or doing daily physical chores are critical to handle your fibromyalgia flares.
Several types of research have shown that everyone can benefit from regular physical activities. Exercise not only helps you to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms, but it also helps you to prevent several other possible medical conditions such as heart problem, diabetes, and obesity.
There are several exercises you can do which do not take nay hard toll on your body and can help you overcome your fibromyalgia flares.
Dealing with fibromyalgia naturally
So far we have covered the ways you can manage your fibromyalgia flares. Now lets talk about how you can handle it with diet.
Gut friendly diet
Healthier diet keep your gut healthy and bloat free. It is essential that you eat food which keeps your stomach healthy.
The gut has a significant impact on the body and your overall health. It affects your mood, memory and overall your immune system.
Your gut has good bacteria which helps you digest food. Eating food which allows you to nurture these good bacteria will have a positive effect on your health.
Here are five gut-friendly foods which will help you with your digestion and also keep your good gut bacteria happy.
We all love chocolate, but we are not talking about highly processed and sugar added snack bars. Eating raw cacao is delicious and good for you.
These raw cacaos are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Research has found that eating high-flavanol cacao for a month had a drastic increase in the beneficial Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in the intestines.
Fennels is a nutrient-rich vegetable. These are natives to the Mediterranean region. However, most of the fennel available in North America is grown in California.
Fennel aids the digestion process and fixes a wide variety of gut problem. The high quantity of nutrients in the fennel helps to improve the intestinal function and relives bloating gases.
You may either slice it for salad or roast it in olive oil for a snack.
Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, and parsnips are a good source of fiber and keeps your get healthy.
You can eat it either raw or roast it. For extra fiber, leave the skin on when baking.
You should aim to take 25 to 29g of fiber daily. Adequate fiber in the daily diet reduces the risk of adverse health outcomes, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Miso is made from soybeans and grains and contains lots of gut-friendly bacteria. It is high in salt so use it at moderate level.
Miso is good to stimulate your digestion and energize your body.
You've probably heard of Omegas and essential fatty acids, but you might not know that there are two different types of omega.
There are Omega-3 and Omega-6. These have different roles in our body and are found in different foods.
in our modern day diet, we have more amount of Omega-6 than Omega-3.
Foods such as eggs, nuts, cereals, poultry, and vegetable oils are rich in Omega-6.
Omega-3 rich foods include salmon, herrings, sardines, and chia seeds.
For fibromyalgia patients, it is vital that you eat more Omega-3 rich foods. It is essential for production of hormones linked to sleep and improves the functioning of nerve cells and immune system.
The anti-inflammatory properties help you with the fibromyalgia pain as well.
Support of family and friends
People respond to their fibromyalgia diagnosis in different ways. It is natural to be resentful and be in disbelief about your illness and ask why this happened to you.
Shock, disbelief, and anger are the most common types of reaction people have when they first come to know their fibromyalgia diagnosis.
It is perfectly reasonable as denial and anger are the first step to look for the solution to the problem.
But you do not have to deal with it all by yourself. If you have the option to get support from family and friends, then you should seek for their support.
Strong support from family and friends not only provide you emotional and moral support but also help you with sharing your workload.
Some ways your family and friends can help you are:
Studies have sown that people who have active support from their friends and families feel far better than those with no help.
Fibromyalgia support group
Connection with people who are int he same situation as you and learning from their experience is the best possible way to handle your fibromyalgia flares.
There are several on line and local support forums which you can join. Fibromyalgia Support Group is another excellent resource where people share their challenges in a tight-knit environment without being getting judged.
Connecting with the right person and support group can provide you with additional resources to deal with your conditions.
There are several support groups available on line and within your community.
When joining the fibromyalgia support group, make sure it has:
You should ask your doctor or local care provider if you have difficulty finding a fibromyalgia support group. Also, explore options to check your local listings.
Ask people you know with fibromyalgia condition for support group referrals.
Coping with fibromyalgia flares is not easy thing to do. But there are certain things which you can do which help you to manage your fibromyalgia flares effectively.
There is no universal solution for everyone as we all are different. The best person to help you is yourself.
You have to know about your body first and take steps which provide you with the long-lasting relief from fibromyalgia flares.
How do you cope with your fibromyalgia flares?
We would love to hear your experience in the comment below.
You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook Page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatment for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
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