Often I get asked for advice on my top tips for dealing with Fibromyalgia. These 7 tips are the tips I typically share. They are what has helped me. And, while the specifics within may vary from individual to individual, the basics are the same.
7 Tips for Dealing with Fibromyalgia
1. Find the right DR
Find a good doctor that will listen to you and that understands Fibromyalgia.
Often we spend too much time with a doctor just because we like them, when they really can’t do much for us.
Make sure your doctor is up on the treatments for Fibro, and that they are willing to listen to you and even research if you bring in a potential new treatment.
If they blow off your questions, or suggestions, it’s time to find a new doctor.
In Lady Gaga’s Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, the first scene shows the singer’s muscles being stretched and prodded on a massage table. It’s one of the ways she deals with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic pain all over the body. It’s not known what causes the condition, and there’s no cure, which can make getting a diagnosis and managing the pain incredibly frustrating. Gaga addresses her struggles with the condition several times throughout the film, and has talked about it openly in the last year.
When a celebrity as big as Gaga talks about fibromyalgia, it brings major awareness to the condition, but it’s still very misunderstood. “Fibromyalgia is poorly identified by most people, even those in medicine, and there’s no specific test that can determine someone has it,” says Charles Kim, M.D., assistant professor in the department of rehabilitative medicine at NYU School of Medicine and pain management specialist at Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation. “We have to test for other things and rule those out; it’s a diagnosis of exclusion.”
I think I’ve had the condition – which causes pain all over the body – for much longer. It’s difficult to get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, not only because the symptoms can be vague and very similar to other illnesses but because there’s no definitive test for it. Once diagnosed there is a sense of relief for finally knowing what is causing such draining symptoms, but sufferers may also feel disappointment since there are limited treatment options and no cure available. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating yet invisible illness and it can be frustrating that there is so little understanding about it. I find it exasperating to have to explain myself whenever I’m struggling. This is what I’d want people to know about fibromyalgia:
As a kid, I would lie awake at night crying because my knees ached so much I couldn’t stand it, and the muscles in my legs felt so painfully tight that even resting them on my soft sheets was unbearable. But after visiting countless doctors and enduring months of testing, I was told my legs and knees were in perfectly good shape. “It’s probably just growing pains,” the doctors would say. “Nothing to fuss about.”
If you have fibromyalgia, this may sound all too familiar. Many of those with fibro start experiencing signs and symptoms as early as childhood, but the lack of awareness about how fibro and other chronic pain conditions can affect children leads to many doctors brushing off the pain and symptoms a child may be experiencing. Too often it takes years (or even decades) before finding a doctor who really listens and is able to make an accurate diagnosis.
In 2001, Emily Shaules was an active, happy 25-year-old lawyer living in Chicago when a casual toss of her hair triggered a sudden, excruciating snap in her neck. Fearing she might have torn something or given herself whiplash, she headed to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a pulled muscle, prescribed Vicodin, and assured her symptoms would blow over in a week.
Instead, the pain began to radiate throughout her body. A month later, she could no longer bear to hug her boyfriend. “Imagine if someone chopped off your finger,” she says. “I felt that level of pain, everywhere.”
Doctors tested Emily for everything from bulging disks and hypothyroidism to lupus and multiple sclerosis — all came back negative. By 2003, she couldn’t pick up her 12-pound dog, she had been let go from her job for failing to keep up with the demands, and her relationship was over.
We all know that fibromyalgia flares are rough. Heck, I wrote a whole post last week about How to Deal with a Fibromyalgia flare. Because let’s face it, they’re basically the worst.
So this week’s post isn’t going to be how to make flares shorter or easier. Instead, I want to talk about things that actually cause fibro flares. Because if we know what causes them, we can be better equipped to avoid them. There is a bit of a caveat with this post, as there have been with my last few.
I want to make sure we’re all on the same page before I dive into the bulk of this post. This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that trigger fibromyalgia flares. We are all bioindividuals. While some people with fibro have similar triggers, everyone has their unique triggers. If you feel so inclined, I would love if you share what triggers your fibro flares by commenting below. If something in particular on this list is a major trigger for you, or if you just want to share your experiences, please leave a comment! Let’s have a conversation and help each other!
Fibromyalgia hurts every minute of everyday. The disease is characterized by chronic pain that affects every part of the body, and other symptoms, like exhaustion and brain fog, only make it even more difficult.
To treat fibromyalgia and ease some of the debilitating pain, you need a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and holistic treatment.
“Effectively treating fibromyalgia requires a combination of medication and lifestyle skills,” says Daniel Clauw, M.D. fibromyalgia expert, and director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But a “combination of medication and lifestyle skills” could mean multiple things to different people. So, where should patients really start to treat their debilitating pain.
In many cases, you’ve tried everything--exhausted all of your options. We understand. If you are suffering from excruciating fibromyalgia pain, here are the suggested ways to cope. If you’ve tried them all, maybe it’s time to revisit. If you haven’t tried some of them, it might be worth exploring.
Here are just 10 of those methods that are believed to offer the most benefits:
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic disease. Typically, it occurs at the age of 25 to 60 years. It occurs more often in women than in men.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- Increasing pain or sensitivity at certain points of the body,
- Unreasonable and uncontrollable feeling of fatigue,
- Depression and anxiety.
The muscles feel as if they are overwhelmed by heavy physical activity without a clear reason. Sometimes the muscles are tense, “burning”, or painful. Pain in fibromyalgia is very specific – it is felt throughout the body, both in the left and right half, under and over the waist, in the middle or low in the back, chest, and neck. Specific points on the body are affected, at the pressure of which the patient experiences severe pain.