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 you cannot think clearly. So how can you cope? From exercise to herbs to supplements, here are 7 ways to manage fibromyalgia symptoms, relieve pain, and fatigue.
It’s bad enough that you have fibromyalgia, a painful and perplexing disorder. What’s worse is that every symptom, from mental confusion to pain, fatigue and depression, affects not only your physical, emotional and mental health, but also your relationships and your work life.
There is no cure, which means you just have to learn how to live with fibromyalgia pain and take steps to ease your symptoms.
“Effective fibromyalgia treatment requires a combination of medications and lifestyle skills,”
7 Expert Tips for Relieving 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, relieve pain, improve sleep, reduce fatigue, improve circulation, and strengthen the heart.
Among the recommended activities for fibromyalgia patients: stretching, walking, yoga, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, and strength training.
“Take small steps to become more active as your symptoms begin to improve.”
But be careful: exercise can sometimes backfire because instead of exercise starting to ease pain it can make it worse if you don’t do properly. Be careful not to exercise too much as it can increase the pain that is already brought on. 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 can feel it all over the body or in multiple tender points.
Water therapy, light aerobics, the application of heat or cold, acupuncture, and osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation have all helped patients relieve the pain and fatigue that fibromyalgia produces.
Then start with physical therapy. It can increase mobility, improve physical function, and relieve pain. Experts at the Pain Foundation believe that physical therapy can help people regain muscle tone and flexibility.
Massage can help some people, but not everyone should have one because even light pressure could make pain worse.
“A medium pressure massage can make a person feel like they’ve been hit by a truck the next day.” Like exercise, all therapies should be implemented gradually, he says.
3. Eat a healthy diet.
Eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains especially those that do not contain gluten, organic lean meats, will help you lose weight and improve your overall health while fighting fibromyalgia.
- Food additives such as monosodium glutamate and nitrates (the preservative in hot dogs and bacon).
- Aspartame (NutraSweet, Splenda, etc.).
- Flours, especially those that contain gluten.
- Coffee and alcohol.
- Dairy products.
4. Get enough sleep.
Pain, stress, and anxiety can deprive you of the ability to sleep. But that is exactly what you need to control one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia: fatigue.
Talk to your doctor to see if sleep medications are appropriate for you. And try to implement good sleep habits. Here are some suggestions:
- Make your room comfortable by reducing noise and extreme temperatures.
- Use light and comfortable bedding.
- Begin rituals that help you relax at bedtime, such as taking a relaxing bath or enjoying a light snack.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
- If you take a nap, do it for less than an hour and take it before 3pm.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes.
- Stay away from fatty and spicy foods that can upset your stomach or cause heartburn.
- Take time throughout the day to get all your worries out of your system.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy and reserve your bed only for sleeping and having intimate relationships.
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. Also, stress and anxiety can get in the way of good times 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 as important as your physical, mental and emotional health. Not only will a doctor help you fix the problem, but they 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-haze,” an inability to think clearly, which can be particularly frustrating when it comes to performing simple tasks.
“Constant stress can drain the endocrine system and disrupt hormone levels,” which can 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 exaggerating their rhythms when they feel fine.
Try relaxation techniques . Methods that help reduce stress and relieve pain 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 speak 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 relieve symptoms. “Magnesium reduces nerve pain and muscle pain.” “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.
“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 your doctor about any supplements, herbs, or other therapies you are considering.