If you have fibromyalgia, you know that life is 10 times more difficult. The complex chronic pain disorder affects every part of your day. You are tired, sore and cannot think clearly. So how can you cope? From exercise to herbs and supplements, here are 7 ways to manage symptoms, ease the pain and fibromyalgia fatigue.
It’s bad enough that you have fibromyalgia, a painful and perplexing disorder. What’s worse is that every symptom, from brain fog to pain, fatigue and depression, affects not only your physical, emotional and mental health, but also your relationships and work life.
There is no cure, which means you just have to learn to live with fibromyalgia pain and take steps to relieve your symptoms.
“Effective treatment of fibromyalgia requires a combination of medications and lifestyle skills,” says Daniel Clauw, MD, a fibromyalgia expert and professor of anesthesiology and medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is also the director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center over there.
7 Expert Tips to Ease Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue
1. Start exercising
Physical exercise is recommended for most people, but it can especially help those with fibromyalgia, who often experience stiffness (especially after waking up in the morning) and restless leg syndrome.
Exercising regularly, whatever can be done routinely, can boost mood, ease pain, improve sleep, reduce fatigue, improve circulation, and strengthen your heart.
Among the activities recommended for patients with fibromyalgia: stretching, walking, yoga, cycling, swimming, water aerobics and strength training.
“Take small steps to become more active as your symptoms start to improve,” advises Dr. Clauw.
But beware: Sometimes exercise can backfire, says Stephen MacPherson, ND, a naturopathic doctor at the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Center in Seattle, because instead of starting to relieve pain, exercise can make it worse if you don’t. does properly. Take care not to exercise too much as it can increase the pain that it already brings. Know your limit, and consult your doctor before starting or changing an exercise program.
2. Try various therapies
Fibromyalgia patients experience pain more intensely than other people. They may feel it all over their body or in multiple tender points.
Water therapy, light aerobic exercise, the application of heat or cold, acupuncture, and osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation have all helped patients relieve the pain and fatigue that fibromyalgia causes, according to experts at the National Fibromyalgia Association.
Then start with physical therapy. It can increase mobility, improve physical function, and relieve pain. The experts of the National Pain Foundation they believe that physical therapy can help people regain their muscle tone and flexibility.
Massage can help some people, but not everyone should have one because even light pressure can make pain worse, advises Dr. MacPherson.
“A medium pressure massage can make a person feel like they’ve been hit by a truck the next day.” Like exercise, all therapies need to be implemented gradually, she says.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains especially those that are gluten-free, lean organic meats, will help you lose weight and improve your overall health while fighting fibromyalgia. Janet Horn, MD, a Lifescript women’s health expert and physician in Baltimore, suggests cutting out the following foods, which seem to bother some people with fibromyalgia:
- Food additives like monosodium glutamate and nitrates (the preservative in sausage and bacon).
- Aspartame (NutraSweet, Splenda, etc).
- Flours, especially those containing gluten.
- Coffee and alcohol.
- Dairy products.
4. Get enough sleep
Pain, stress, and anxiety can rob you of your ability to sleep. But that’s exactly what you need to control one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia: fatigue.
Talk to your doctor to see if sleep medications are right for you. And try to implement good sleep habits. Here are some suggestions from University of Maryland Sleep Disorder Center:
- Make your room comfortable by reducing noise and temperature extremes.
- Use light and comfortable bedding.
- Begin rituals that help you wind down at bedtime, such as taking a relaxing bath or enjoying a light snack.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
- If you take a nap, make it less than an hour and take it before 3 pm
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes.
- Stay away from fatty and spicy foods that can upset your stomach or cause heartburn.
- Take time during the day to get all your worries out of your system.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy and reserve the bed only for sleeping and having sex.
5. Pay attention to your intimate life
Women with fibromyalgia commonly experience pain with their menstrual cycles and during intercourse. Joint/muscle pain or stiffness can interfere with your ability to enjoy intimacy.
In addition to physical challenges, negative changes in self-perception, such as feeling unattractive, uncomfortable, or just not feeling sexy, can lead to loss of desire. In addition, stress and anxiety can get in the way of good moments of intimacy. If you’ve fallen into the habit of avoiding intimacy for these or other reasons, talk to your doctor.
Your sexual health is just as important as your physical, mental and emotional health. A doctor will not only help you fix the problem, but will also recommend ways to increase your libido and self-esteem and help you manage pain or discomfort.
6. Reduce stress
Fibromyalgia can affect memory and cause “fibro-fog,” an inability to think clearly, which can be particularly frustrating when trying to perform simple tasks.
“Constant stress can drain the endocrine system and disrupt hormone levels,” which may be a cause of fibromyalgia, says Dr. MacPherson.
Try these tips to manage your stress load:
Make a rhythm of your daily activities. Fibromyalgia patients sometimes unknowingly exacerbate pain and fatigue by overdoing their rhythms when they feel fine, says Dr. Clauw.
Try relaxation techniques. Methods that help reduce stress and relieve pain They include breathing and relaxation exercises, meditation, aromatherapy, and biofeedback. The latter uses a machine to help patients read their body’s signals to reduce anxiety and pain.
set limits. You may want to talk to your supervisor at work to modify your schedule, reduce your workload, or simply identify and communicate your needs to your boss and co-workers.
See a cognitive behavioral therapist. This form of psychotherapy examines how our thinking influences how we feel and what we do. Fibromyalgia patients can be in great emotional distress, says Dr. MacPherson, and therapy can help manage it.
7. Try herbs and supplements
Magnesium and acetyl-L-carnitine can help ease symptoms, says Suzy Cohen, R. Ph., Lifescript Pharmacist.
“Magnesium reduces nerve pain and muscle pain,” she says. “When the mineral goes down, the body experiences more pain.”
It’s also used to make ATP, an energy molecule, which can help with fatigue, says Cohen.
“And the body uses acetyl-L-carnitine to make another hormone, acetylcholine, which is used in the brain to improve mood, memory, and concentration difficulties, which often coincide with fibromyalgia.”
Always consult with your doctor about any supplements, herbs, or other therapies you’re considering.