Fibromyalgia syndrome causes widespread pain and stiffness in the body which gets worse as the day progresses, leaving you feeling weak. This syndrome can have a huge impact on how you lead your life on a day-to-day basis. A range of treatments are usually prescribed for long term management of fibromyalgia pain including physical therapy, psychological therapy and drugs.
Below are some useful coping techniques to help you manage the pain on a day-to-day basis.
That clear liquid we take for granted every day can actually help to relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Did you know that fatigue and headaches can be caused by dehydration? Our adult bodies are made up of approximately 70% water which evaporates through breathing, sweating and other natural bodily functions. Drinking water helps to flush all the toxins through your liver and kidneys and out of the body. Aim for at least 8 glasses each day – being hydrated will help to fight off fatigue. If you don’t like plain water try a squeeze of lemon juice or lime to add some flavour.
Get some sleep
Fibromyalgia sufferers tend to have disturbed sleep – research has shown that sleep deprivation can cause widespread pain and chronic daytime fatigue. The key to reducing fatigue is quality sleep. Unfortunately, it’s a double edged sword as the pain makes it harder to sleep but sleep helps to relieve the pain.
You can encourage a better night’s sleep by setting a regular time for both going to bed and getting up each day. Make your bedroom a cool, dark, distraction free space and avoid drinking caffeinated drinks in the evening. If you feel the need to use a computer before bed you should try and restrict it to at leat an hour before you go to sleep. If you find your thoughts are what keep you awake you can try keeping a notepad beside the bed and write down the thoughts you have and listen to relaxing music to unwind your mind. This is an effective technique for reducing anxiety.
Take a bath
A study in Rheumatology International (2008) confirmed hydrotherapy as a method of relieving the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia. Warm water helps to circulate the blood, reduces the pressure placed on joints and helps to relax the muscles (and the mind). Whilst a hydrotherapy pool isn’t a luxury available to everyone on a daily basis, instead you could have a long, warm bath in the evening to help soothe your muscles.
We’re not suggesting that you go and sign up to a 5k race, but research has shown that gentle exercise plays an important role in helping to break the pain cycle, reduce stiffness and improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. If the pain is bad, it may not be possible to exercise much but starting slowly with a few easy stretches, then working your way up to doing more is a good way to ease into it. Gentle exercise like yoga, walking or swimming will all increase your heart rate. Start out slowly and for short periods of time, then as you are able, work up to 30 minutes a day if you can..