WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA
Just because you don’t have pain when you walk, or when you pick things up, or maybe even sleeping doesn’t mean that kind of pain doesn’t exist. It does and it’s called fibromyalgia. Once thought to be a musculoskeletal disease, it is now classified as a disorder of the central nervous system. Apparently we all have neurotransmitters under our skin sending messages about pain to our brain and processing them normally for cuts, burns, etc. For people with fibromyalgia the messages received by the brain get processed abnormally and then get overloaded in the brain resulting in the amplification of the pain felt. Because no direct or exact cause can be found the term disease has been changed over to syndrome or disorder, which actually describes a collection of symptoms.
SYMPTOMS FO FIBROMYALGIA
Widespread body pain, especially in certain areas called trigger or pressure points, is the predominant symptom of fibromyalgia. This pain is not only annoying but can be very intense and debilitating for some people. It takes a lot of the joy out of life. Simple things we take for granted are painful and can be extremely challenging in the everyday life of a person with fibromyalgia.
Other symptoms accompany this disorder too, making it harder to live or cope with. Irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, nausea, depression, fatigue, cognitive difficulties in thinking and problem solving, memory problems, stiffness and difficulty in walking or maintain balance, migraine headaches, urinary frequency, hyper-sensitivity to sound, light and heightened sensitivity to touch on the skin are actually just a few of over 60 different symptoms of fibromyalgia. Sometimes this disorder mimics other ailments or coincides with other syndromes thus making fibromyalgia one of the most misunderstood, perplexing and confusing disorders around. No wonder it takes an average of five to seven years for it to be diagnosed.
Fibromyalgia is not exactly easy to treat. There is no quick fix or cures for it either. The best way to achieve relief of the pain is through medication either prescribed by a physician or over the counter drugs such as Advil. Depending on the severity of the pain Advil might not help very much.
Besides seeking pain relief, sleeping aids are also needed. Not being able to sleep robs your body of being restored and produces the fatigue that usually comes with fibromyalgia. Being overly tired brings on the pain and sometimes it creates a cycle that once it gets started it’s hard to stop it.
I know it seems like it would hurt but exercise does ease up the pain unless it is overdone. Mild aquatic exercises put no pressure on the joints and muscles and generally patients show an increased amount of movement and feel better overall. Swimming, cycling and limited walking help keeps the sufferer moving which is real important when you have fibromyalgia. If you don’t move enough you will get stiff and achier.
Massaging is still another way to manage fibromyalgia. It should be executed by a specially trained physical therapist that is very knowledgeable about fibromyalgia. Support groups are very handy since millions of people suffer this disorder. Ideas in such a group would be helpful for all kinds of techniques, therapies or other ways to manage the pain or cope with the emotional and physical difficulties experienced. Talking with your doctor can be a great help also.
WAYS TO HELP FRIENDS WITH FIBROMYALGIA
Depending on how bad the fibromyalgia is will pretty much determine how much help a person needs. Just remember to put them first in your thoughts. For example: when outside they might seem to have a good time but inwardly they are hurting and will probably pay for it later the next day. Limit your times outside or in activities that require a lot of movement for their sakes. Help carry things or lift things that otherwise would really cause some discomfort. Simple things like laundry or shopping can be done for them too.
When hanging out with them avoid perfume, after shave, incense or other aromas and warn them before making loud sounds. All these can produce pain. Be understanding and patient and laugh with the person if joking about the quirks of fibromyalgia. Remember a simple poke with the elbow or touch can fell like a burning pain to them.
Consider their feelings when they experience fibro-fog moments. Don’t get frustrated if you have to repeat yourself to get the idea across.
Ask about helping with the chores around the house or shop. You would be surprised how so much of these little things count in their lives.
Fibromyalgia may be painful and certainly frustrating at times but with some encouragement in managing or coping with this disorder the quality of life can be maintained and lived somewhat normally