WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with various symptoms. It is diagnosed in various ways, mainly due to a process of illumination. Symptoms include:
- widespread pain
- chronic fatigue
- poor memory and concentration
- pins and needles
- jaw pain
- sweating and shivering (lack of thermal regulation)
- weight loss or weight gain
This is just to name a few. Not one person experiences symptoms and relief the same. It is a very complex condition, and therefore does not have a cure or simple treatment plan.
The condition is becoming more widely known, with research coming over from the USA and raising awareness in the UK and Europe. It is thought to affect 1 in 10 people. Most people go undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed.
Regardless of whether you have the label of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome - living in pain and constant fatigue is not pleasant.
There are various explanations and evidence-based research behind the cause of fibromyalgia. From experience, these are the main causes I've found and form a common theme amongst many Fibromyalgia and/or CFS sufferers. You may find an individual to just have one, all or some or the following: (to be completed...)
- PTSD (can be anything from a car crash, armed forces, childbirth etc)
- depressive tendencies
- previous history of physical pain
- mitochondrial dysfunction
- poor lymphatic system
- poor circulations
- lack of vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium, and/or iron
- Poor sleep patterns
- Chaotic lifestyle
- other underlying conditions causing stresses on vital body functions and systems.
It is thought that people with fibromyalgia are in a constant state of 'fight or flight'. This means that we are constantly putting our foot on the accelerator. Our body struggles to put the foot on the break. This makes us highly alert, which of course, causes extra stress on the body. We have to learn to re-wire the body to calm down and slow down. This is called the parasympathetic system.
There are various treatments and helpful lifestyle management tips to help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, there is no cure at present. I have listed a few recommendations below.
If you or a loved one suffer from Fibromyalgia, please join your local support group.
I run the Bedford Fibromyalgia/CFS Support Group. It's a great network of people to share experiences and know that they are not suffering alone. We have regular guest speakers and share information about treatment available in the area and useful top tips.
Nutrition and Diet
Have a balanced diet. Diets high in wheat, dairy, sugar and processed foods increase toxins in your body, and can cause inflammation. Diets high in good fats, lots of fruit and vegetables and lots of water help the body digest all the vitamins and minerals it needs, and doesn't waste energy processing the 'bad stuff'.
Try a gluten, dairy and refined sugar free diet for a few weeks and note the changes yourself.
Move! Whether it's just getting out of bed or off of the sofa. Walk as much as you can each day. Mobilising helps pump blood, and therefore oxygen around your body, and helps the lymphatic system flow and push bad waste out of the body and 'essential bits' around the body. It also helps to keep muscles loose, and helps with bowel movements. Exercise also increases mood by releasing happy hormones called endorphins.
Grade your exercise and build up gradually. Never do anything that puts you in more pain.
Why not try a gentle walk, or meet up for a walk with a friend? Try a gentle swim or pilates. Consult your GP or physio before any strenuous activities as running or cycling may not be advised for those with hypermobility.
Having a good support network can be really valuable to your mental health. Humans are interactive beings and crave communication and social interaction.
Why not join a group and meet some new people? A knitting group, gym class, book club, games club. Invite people to your house and try new baking recipes together, or start a movie club - make sure to get them to help wash up! Whatever tickles your fancy - don't let your condition cripple you - laugh and have fun!
Drink plenty of water!
Hydrate hydrate hydrate!
Help send those minerals and vitamins around your body and flush out the bad stuff. Water is best. Have herbal teas for a treat :)
Try and keep your caffeine to the morning (minimal as possible).
Heat (hydrotherapy, hot showers) - Sleep - Rest - Deep Breathing - Electrotherapy - Fresh Air - Take Vitamins - Essential Oils - Aloe Vera - Get assessed by an Osteopath
Use heat to keep body warm...
Try and get a deep sleep - read Dr Chatterjee's 4 Pillar Plan to get better deep sleep
Rest - look after yourself. Have ME TIME at least once a day. Whether it's praying, meditation, mindfulness, a nice hot cuppa, or reading a book. Find time to unwind and rest.