Fibromyalgia is an illness that affects how your brain and spinal cord process non-painful and painful signals. It causes widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, memory, sleep and mood disturbances.
It affects women more than men. People with the disorder also tend to have tension headaches, anxiety, depression, and or irritable bowel syndrome.
Disturbed sleep reduces your quality of life because of the consequent fatigue. You wake up tired as sleep is often disturbed by pain. You may also have restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea and fibro fog which is the inability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
All these make it difficult to function at work or home. Here is how to manage this disorder:
A rheumatologist will prescribe you medication to relieve the symptoms of the condition. Medication includes antidepressants, pain relievers and anti-epileptic drugs.
Keep taking your medication as this will take care of the pain, poor sleep and cognitive impairments. This will highly improve your productivity and functioning.
Use alarms, or other forms of reminders to alert you to take your medicine.
Therapies have shown great results for patients who take them. Therapies include physical therapy, occupational therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
A physical therapist teaches you exercises that will give you improved overall stamina, flexibility and strength.
An occupational therapist adjusts your work area to reduce stress on your body. A cognitive behavioural therapist helps you manage emotional stress and get you to be more positive and open-minded.
Regular exercise helps to reduce pain and fatigue, as well as clear the mind. Target 20-30 minutes, for two or three days a week for you to feel the improvement that comes with being active.
Running, walking and swimming are particularly helpful but so is strength training and conditioning.
Keep exercise balanced, otherwise, it could end up making the condition worse. Note the good days and how you feel, then do your exercise just the point when it's enough to avoid overdoing it. Then on the bad days, push just a little to the point of balance.
This balance on good and bad days goes a long way in keeping your situation steady.
As a fibromyalgia patient, your diet needs to focus on nutrient-rich foods to have more energy and to avoid other health problems. A diet full of processed sugar is particularly detrimental.
Avoid soft drinks and gluten-rich foods. Take in more vegetables and fruits. Have an uptake of roughages and reduce caffeine for better results.
Sleep hygiene is key. Since fibromyalgia tends to disrupt your sleep, make sure you sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This way you tend to have enough sleep. Also, limit daytime napping.
With proper sleep, you get more energy to do what needs to be done.
Though fibromyalgia, has no cure, taking the necessary precautions and actions can help you manage the condition and live a fulfilled life.