Living with Fibromyalgia
Firstly, what is Fibromyalgia?
In a nutshell it is a chronic condition with no cure that causes pain and increased fatigue.
Fibromyalgia means pain in the fibrous tissues in the body. Broken down the name Fibro, means fibrous tissues like tendons and ligaments. My for muscle and algia means pain.
For people who suffer from Fibromyalgia it can be a journey of frustration and trial and error to find the right combination of pain relief that then needs to be altered frequently as their symptoms change throughout time.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Unfortunately it is currently unknown, but people do believe it is related to abnormal levels of certain brain chemicals or changes in the central nervous system process pain.
It can start after a stressful event like an injury, g an operation, the breakdown of a relationship, illness or the death of a loved one.
Who gets it?
The condition typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly. It affects around 7 times as many women as men.
How do I know if I could have Fibromyalgia?
Symptoms do vary from person to person but the most common is pain. Other symptoms include:
Restless leg syndrome
Body temperature fluctuations for example being very cold or hot
poor quality of sleep
Anxiety and depression
IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
Headaches or dizziness
Different feelings in the hands and feet for example prickling or tingling
Shortness of attention or poor ability to function doing usual tasks
Possible memory problems
Something worth noting, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause sleep problems,depression, muscle weakness, paresthesia and anxiety. So it is worth checking this out as a cause, as well as Fibro.
What do I do next?
Always consult your GP if you have had any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, especially if the pain is affecting your ability to carry out your usual day to day tasks and routine or if your mood is low.
You said there is no cure, what can I do ?
The internet is both a fantastic source of information and a good place to research your symptoms and condition but it can create false hope and promises of Fibromyalgia cures. Keep an open mind when searching, alternative therapies, devices and even natural health supplements can help ease symptoms but they wont cure and it can become an expensive trial and error journey as you search for the best way to maintain a normal lifestyle.
Fibromyalgia forums can be brilliant for hearing other peoples stories but they can also come with negative opinions and could hinder your personal journey. Staying positive can be hard enough when you are in pain without adding the emotional baggage of others.
Everyone's journey is different, what works for one person may have no effect on another. Keep talking to your friends and family for support.
From a medication perspective - There are a number of drugs that can be prescribed, the ones offered will vary subject to your location.
I am not a medical professional, I am not endorsing specific drugs*
Someone I know personally had to request Amitriptyline when someone else I know was prescribed it as first method and it helped very quickly. Although if you speak to both parties their dose has increased along the way to help manage their pain. Other Antipsychoctic and antidepressants ca help reduce pain by boosting the level of neurotransmitters to the brain.
Painkillers for example codeine are often prescribed.
Also subject to your symptoms you may get help with sleeping and muscle relaxants.
Exercise - From the people I know who have been diagnosed as having Fibromyalgia, regular gentle exercise such as swimming,walking or non weight baring exercises can help reduce pain,increase mood and overall well-being. Start off slow and increase gradually, too much too soon can exasperate your complaint. It is important to remain mindful of your ability level but also your pain threshold. In short, be kind to yourself, you are doing your best.
Alternative therapies - Massage, acupuncture and aromatherapy can all help reduce tension and increase relaxation, so can not only help relieve the pain can also increase mood.
Getting a good nights sleep - Sleep is vital for all round wellbeing. Simple steps to getting the best nights sleep can have huge rewards.
People with Fibromyalgia experience an alteration in their patterns of slow wave sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep. Another example of how pain and sleep disturbance are linked.
Adjustable beds and health mattresses are proven to help aid a better nights sleep, this is because the sleeping position can be manipulated to suit the user.
Some helpful organisations
Fibromyalgia Action UK is a charity that offers information and support to people with fibromyalgia. If you have any questions about fibromyalgia, call the charity's helpline on 0300 999 3333.
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