Fibromyalgia is a common health condition, characterized by pain, discomfort, brain fog, and fatigue. Symptoms usually wax and wane, with “good” and “bad” days. “Bad days” are often referred to as a “flare”. The condition tends to affect more women than men, and often (though not always) develops in the aftermath of a significant, stressful life event or trauma.
At the present time, there is no known “cure” for fibromyalgia, and there is still little understanding of the causes of the condition, although research is ongoing. As a result, those who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia primarily seek to manage the condition, treating pain and reducing flares in order to achieve a good quality of life. Here are four of the most common suggestions for managing fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia pain can sometimes be treated with prescribed medications, although over-the-counter pain medications are usually preferred. The efficacy of prescribed painkillers (such as opioids) has been called into question in recent years. In addition to OTC medications, pain can also be managed with professional massage, the use of alternative medicines such as Bubba OG, acupuncture and supplements such as panax ginseng and magnesium. Many people with fibromyalgia essentially experiment with the different pain management options, aided by the advice of their doctor, until they find something that works for them.
Exercise can be difficult for anyone with fibromyalgia, as the very nature of the condition – pain, which can sometimes be severe, in the muscles and joints – is not conducive to physical activity. However, most treatment plans involve a recommendation for low-impact, gentle exercise, such as walking, yoga, or pilates. Hydrotherapy – which involves exercising in water, where the body is more supported – can also be considered. Research has indicated that regular exercise can help to improve mood and ease pain.
Dietary changes are thought to be beneficial to those with fibromyalgia, especially when it comes to reducing pain symptoms and managing flares. |Research suggests that a diet that is high in protein and relatively low in carbohydrates is preferable, while avoiding foods that are high in sugar and focusing on low-glycemic foods (such as kidney beans, lentils, and sweet potatoes) should also be considered. There is also some evidence to suggest that switching to a plant-based diet can help to ease symptoms of the condition. Speak to your doctor and get a referral to a registered dietician for more helpful advice.
While fibromyalgia is a physical condition, it can also have a detrimental impact on mental health. Living with chronic pain can cause issues with depression and anxiety, which can in turn seem to exacerbate physical symptoms. As a result, therapy – and particularly cognitive behavioural therapy (usually known as CBT) – is often recommended for those with the condition. Therapy is designed to provide assistance in stress management and helps to improve overall quality of life.
As the search for a cure for fibromyalgia continues, the condition can be managed – along with the advice of a doctor – with the methods above.