10 Tips for Coping with Fibromyalgia

Did you know… women between the ages of 25 and 60 have the highest risk of developing fibromyalgia? Doctors aren’t sure why, but women are 10 times more likely to have the condition than men.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression.

Susan Higgins, DPTStrive! Doctor of Physical Therapy, Susan Higgins (Director of the Strive! – Belleview Clinic), says it’s important to listen to your body. “Patients with fibromyalgia have good days and bad days. It’s important to not over exert yourself on days you’re feeling good. It’s also important to educate your family about fibromyalgia and how it affects you.” Dr. Higgins has helped many people with this condition and finds that getting a proper night’s sleep is a common problem. “Studies suggest some patients remain in a shallow state of sleep and don’t experience restful, deep sleep. This deprives the body of a chance to repair and replenish itself. Poor sleep can result in worse pain.” On a positive note, Dr. Higgins suggests some lifestyle changes can help improve symptoms and quality of life.

1. Jot It Down

If “Fibro Fog” is hurting your focus or memory, keep a pen and paper handy. Make to-do and even “to say” lists to help you remember topics you want to talk to your spouse or family about.

2. Exercise Regularly

Regular, low-intensity exercise, such as walking or warm-water exercise, is one of the best treatments for fibromyalgia. A physical therapist can help you develop an appropriate exercise program.

3. Pace Yourself

Keep your activity on an even level. Moderation means not overdoing it on your good days, but likewise, it means not self-limiting or doing too little on the days when symptoms flare.

4. Reach For Decaf

Caffeine may compound stress, both physically and psychologically. It stimulates the heart and central nervous system and can increase nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia.

5. Take Some “Me Time” Every Day

Fibromyalgia can pose unique health challenges and make life complicated. So make time for yourself every day as a part of your treatment. Lose yourself in a hobby, put on some music, rest—whatever makes you feel good.

6. Just Say No

Fibromyalgia is sometimes called an “invisible illness”— you can look fine but feel bad. People may forget that you need to prioritize and pace yourself. When weighing activities, favors or invitations consider if they will keep you from the rest, exercise or relaxation you need to feel well. It’s OK to simply say “no.”

7. Keep A Daily Journal

Keeping track of events, activities, symptoms and mood changes can help you take charge of fibromyalgia. It may make you aware of when symptoms start and, over time, what may be triggering them. Then you can work to eliminate triggers or learn coping strategies to lessen their impact.

8. Get Enough Sleep

Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.

9. Join A Support Group

Support groups can play an important part in the lives of people with a chronic illness. Whether in person or online, they offer a safe place to talk with others who may share your frustrations and concerns. Support groups provide emotional support, information, and tips for coping.

10. Call Strive! Physical Therapy Centers

Call and schedule your free evaluation today. We’ll evaluate your condition and make recommendations to help relieve the effects.

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