Fibromyalgia, a widespread chronic pain disease that affects 6% of the world’s population, is one of the most challenging conditions we treat at PPOA. It is tough to diagnose because of the lack of external symptoms or testing available and is even more difficult on the patients who often wait months or years to receive validation for their pain.
90% of fibromyalgia patients are women, and these patients are often told by physicians or loved ones that they should stop being so “sensitive” instead of receiving real help. Because it shows no outward symptoms, many patients are accused of exaggerating or faking their symptoms altogether, which only adds to the pain they experience. When you’re in pain all of the time and have no one there to support you, the days can feel as if they never end.
Below is advice from patients, physicians, and loved ones who actively fight against fibromyalgia in their daily lives:
Take a hot bath to soothe aches and pains.
Heat therapy is a common self-care remedy for all types of aches and pains, and it can soothe the whole-body pain experience common for fibro patients. A hot bath can not only release tension in the muscles but provides your mind with much-needed relaxation after a long day.
Keep your body moving.
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re exhausted and in pain, but science shows it is one of the best ways to reduce long-term pain and improve your mood. When you take daily walks or engage in a gentle yoga session, you allow your muscles to stretch rather than ache from a prolonged sedentary lifestyle. Mild exercise can also improve mental clarity and mood, which is crucial when fighting constant pain.
Fibro patients often feel like they have to ride the wave of their pain and push themselves on days when they’re feeling good. However, this can make flare-ups worse afterward. DOn’t feel like you have to clean the whole house in one day or walk several miles to make up for the days you skipped. Be consistent in your efforts and allow yourself to enjoy your good days rather than feeling the pressure to “make the most” of them.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Fibromyalgia is an invisible disease, making it more challenging to communicate your experience. You may feel as if you have to keep up with the workload of your coworkers or “put on a happy face” when spending time with friends or family, but this only puts you at a more significant disadvantage. Your fibromyalgia is natural, and it does not need to be justified to anyone else. This goes for other people in your life, and other patients you see who you believe are coping better.
Tending to your body’s needs is the best thing you can do to reduce fibromyalgia pain. THings like overworking yourself, eating a sugary diet or skipping meals, and letting your sleep cycle get out of rhythm can all contribute to more pain the next day. Remember to make these things your top priority when planning each day:
- Stress management
While these self-care remedies can help lessen fibromyalgia pain, they can only do so much. If you’re ready to talk to a doctor about medical options for fibro pain, contact your local PPOA office today.