The medical community’s understanding of fibromyalgia has increased over the last few years. However, the true cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown and diagnosis can be difficult. Unfortunately, this means that fibromyalgia treatment that works for you is still an imperfect science that requires coordinated care between you and your doctor. Your regimen to treat fibromyalgia will likely consist of a mix of lifestyle changes, alternative therapies, and medical approaches.
The basics of fibromyalgia treatment
Fibromyalgia is chronic pain condition. It’s often associated with widespread pain, cognitive issues, and fatigue. There are currently no cures for fibromyalgia.
While there are not any cures yet, working with a pain specialist can help you find a treatment plan that focuses on improving your symptoms. These treatments could help with:
- Energy levels
- Cognitive issues, such as fibro fog
- Pain, especially at certain tender points
- Emotional issues
- TMJ pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Restless leg syndrome
Putting off your treatment can also allow symptoms to actually worsen. So, when you do finally seek treatment, it may be more difficult to get your symptoms under control. Because of this, it’s important to incorporate lifestyle, alternative, and pharmaceutical treatments into your overall pain management plan. The following videos gives a brief overview of fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle changes for fibromyalgia treatment
Not all your fibromyalgia management has to come from physicians and specialists. While medical approaches should definitely be part of your treatment plan, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help you live well with fibromyalgia, too. Many of these seem like common sense, and they are. But incorporating a more mindful approach to your daily activities can help you prevent pain before it starts.
1. Know your limits and pace yourself
Plan ahead a little. If you know you’ve got a dozen errands to run this week, spread them out over several days instead of doing them all at once. Better yet, ask a friend or spouse to handle a few of those errands. You might even consider services like home grocery delivery, dry cleaning pick-up, or mobile pet groomers that come to your front door. If it makes your life more manageable, go for it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance at stores. Request that the bagger at the grocery store keep your bags on the light side, or ask if someone can help you load your heavy new TV or bag of cat litter into your car. Once you get home, ask a neighbor to give you a hand carrying anything heavy or awkward.
2. Take the time to get enough rest
Appropriate rest can help you live well with fibromyalgia. This includes both during the day and at night. Avoid taking long naps late in the day, since they may interfere with your ability to sleep at night. However, it’s completely okay to lie down for ten minutes and just relax if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.
When bedtime rolls around, try to find ways to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Avoiding long naps in the evening will help. You can also try any or all of these sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation, or read our posts on sleep. If nothing’s working, talk to your physician. Sleep may seem like a very small thing compared to pain, but if you improve sleep habits, it can impact every aspect of your day.
3. Exercise regularly
Another easy way to help yourself sleep better is to get some exercise throughout the day. Exercise is also one of the best ways to treat fibromyalgia.
This doesn’t mean doing something extreme like running a 10K. It means working some moderate physical activity into your daily routine. Low-intensity exercises can be beneficial, including:
- Water aerobics
- Light weightlifting
Even your normal daily activities, like gardening, sweeping, or vacuuming, can count toward your exercise for the day. And, as Health.com explains, know that your pain may get worse before it gets better. Work closely with your doctor to find the most appropriate activities for you.