Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread pain and fatigue disorder.
The pain is generally felt all over the body but can be focused on particular ‘trigger’ points.
Other symptoms of the condition include irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and cognitive difficulties.
The cause of fibromyalgia isn’t currently clear, and there is no cure, so treatment is about managing the symptoms.
The pain and fatigue from the illness can be overwhelming and feel unmanageable – I’m not going to say it’s easy but there are some key techniques for putting the pain in its place.
Cold weather or drafts are the enemy so the first tip is to avoid getting cold.
Additional heat can also be helpful – a warm bath or shower, hot water bottle or microwavable wheat bag will help muscles relax, improve blood flow and reduce pain.
A regular morning stretching routine will help get the blood flowing to all parts of the body and we can all relate to how refreshing a good stretch first thing is.
Keeping your body supple will reduce stiffness and ensure joints and muscles work well.
The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes, five times a week.
However, the most important part of exercising when you have fibromyalgia is to build it up very gradually and listen to your body.
I tried and failed many times to get back into running because I always did too much.
My most recent regime started with five minutes walking.
I’ve managed to build this up to 30 minutes, including a couple of minutes running, but it’s taken a long time.
It’s OK to take steps backwards if necessary.
I cannot stress how important it is to take tiny steps when building up – this is called pacing.
The cause of the pain in fibromyalgia is currently unclear and therefore it is difficult to treat the condition with medication.
However, some drugs have been found to be effective.
It’s important to get advice from a qualified physician.
Useful medication can include paracetamol, opioids (eg codeine), low-dose antidepressants and anticonvulsants (eg pregabalin).
There are numerous benefits of massage, including relaxation, improving muscle tone and improving mental health.
Simply massaging your own muscles or getting a professional-full body massage can all help.
Make sure this is a regular part of your life.
The power of positivity cannot be underestimated.
This does not mean you can think your way out of the pain but you can think positively about being able to manage the pain so that it doesn’t take over your life.
There are a number of unproven ideas, such as adding dietary supplements or avoiding certain foods, that you can try.
Other treatments include acupuncture or homeopathy.
What’s most important is finding something that works for you.
Treat the other symptoms
Since fibromyaligia is such a complex condition, it is important to ensure the other symptoms (eg insomnia, depression, anxiety, bowel problems) are under control.
This will help the pain feel more manageable.
Everyone’s experience of fibromyalgia is different and each sufferer will find their own ways of coping with the symptoms.
Ensure you find a good doctor who understands your unique needs and persevere until you find what works.
It is possible to manage fibromyalgia and be a survivor.