Living With Fibromyalgia

Living With Fibromyalgia

Living With Fibromyalgia
To live with fibromyalgia, work with your doctor to find a treatment that works for you and then stick to it. This will likely include regular exercise, reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep. A support group can provide ideas for how to manage the condition along with general encouragement.

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    Young children should be reassured, first and foremost, that fibromyalgia is not a fatal disease, nor is it something they can catch from you, like a virus. You may want to explain to your children that fibromyalgia causes tenderness or pain in the body, much like a bad bruise might cause them, and that this may mean that you have to do things a little differently at home in order to feel better. Explain to your small children that there are many things a person with fibromyalgia can do to feel better. Encourage them to ask questions and share their concerns or fears about the condition. Open communication is key.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Although nursing does not aggravate symptoms for most women, breastfeeding can be challenging for new mothers with fibromyalgia. Some examples include:
    • Muscle pain. This can cause problems finding a comfortable position for nursing. 
    • Fatigue. This can interfere with nursing, caring for the baby, caring for older children and keeping up with household chores.
    Making plans to frequently change positions during nursing and enlisting others to help with household chores may improve your ability to continue nursing. Remember that your baby benefits from any time spent nursing, so don't worry if you're not able to continue for as long as you might like.

    Here are some tips for successful nursing:

    At the beginning of the third trimester:
    • Talk to your doctor about your fibromyalgia treatment program after the baby is born.
    • Set up realistic expectations for nursing.
    • Consider adding booster sessions with exercise and behavioral therapists for nondrug pain management skills.
    • Consider meeting with a lactation counselor.
    • Tell your doctor if you notice problems with your mood.
    Before delivery:
    • Talk to your family about prioritizing and scheduling essential chores for the baby and the family after delivery. Delegate chores to others.
    • Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
    • Talk to your doctor about what to expect in terms of increased fatigue after delivery.
    • Tell your doctor if you are noticing problems with your mood.
    • Review your fibromyalgia treatment plan for after delivery with your doctor.
    Before leaving the hospital after delivery:
    • Get advice from the nurses about breastfeeding your baby. Let your healthcare team know about any difficulties or concerns you might have for when you get home.
    • Remember that your baby receives important health benefits from breastfeeding, even if you're not able to nurse as long as you might like.
    • Remember to find comfortable positions when nursing, such as nursing lying on your side or using a pillow or sling to help support the weight of the baby.
    • Remember to change positions frequently during nursing sessions to reduce getting sore and stiff.
    • Plan to nurse at home in a quiet, comfortable environment.
    • If you have a lactation counselor, get in touch with her to review your concerns.
    • Review your treatment plan for fibromyalgia symptoms with your doctor. Make sure you know what to do when symptoms flare.
    • Schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor for soon after hospital discharge to reassess your fibromyalgia treatments.
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    A , Anesthesiology, answered

    Overlapping (comorbid) conditions are ailments that frequently occur together. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) are generally considered overlapping conditions. FMS and ME/CFS also have a host of other overlapping conditions associated with them. These include other pain disorders, sleep problems, major depression, nervous system disorders, digestive problems and menstrual problems.

    PAIN CONDITIONS

    Many people with FMS and ME/CFS also have other chronic pain conditions that need to be diagnosed and properly treated. Often, successfully treating other sources of pain can help alleviate FMS and ME/CFS symptoms.

    Myofascial pain syndrome

    Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS, sometimes called "chronic myofascial pain") is frequently confused with fibromyalgia, but they are different conditions. In MPS, muscles and connective tissues (which make up the fascia) develop what are called trigger points. A trigger point is often a small, hard knot, about the size of a pencil eraser that you may be able to feel under your skin. Sometimes the knot itself is painful, especially when you press on it, but it often causes pain in another area.

    • Learn more about myofascial pain syndrome, including treatments, possible causes, how it's diagnosed, and how it interacts with fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia & Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    Chronic headache

    Some researchers believe that people with chronic headaches, such as migraines, and those with FMS may share common defects in systems that regulate specific chemical messengers in the brain, such as serotonin and epinephrine (adrenaline). Doctors have found low levels of magnesium in both groups as well, and when chronic migraine sufferers don't respond to usual therapies it sometimes leads to a diagnosis of FMS. Chronic headache frequently occurs with ME/CFS as well and can be relevant to diagnosing ME/CFS.

    Migraine symptoms include heightened sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vision problems such as auras or tunnel vision, difficulty speaking, and intense pain that's stronger on one side of the head.

    Multiple chemical sensitivity

    Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) causes similar symptoms to ME/CFS and FMS, but with the trigger being exposure to certain chemicals, such as those found in perfumes, adhesives and cleaning products. Because everyone is exposed to a huge variety of chemicals every day, it can be extremely difficult to identify which ones are causing the symptoms.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    If you have fibromyalgia, standard doses of vitamins and minerals are generally safe during pregnancy and nursing. It's important to get enough vitamins and minerals for your health and the health of your baby. Most pregnant women are prescribed a prenatal vitamin that includes a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including at least 400 mg of folate. Always talk to your doctor before taking any additional vitamin or mineral supplements, to make sure that you don't take too high a dose that might cause problems for you or the baby.

    Several nutritional supplements used to treat fibromyalgia have been studied for safety and possible beneficial effects during pregnancy. The probiotics Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to be safe during pregnancy and for 3 months after delivery during breastfeeding.

    One interesting study treated women with either probiotics or a placebo (sugar pill) during the end of pregnancy and for the first 3 months while nursing. When the children were 2 years old, the researchers evaluated the 138 children who had been exposed to probiotics and the 140 who had not. Interestingly, children whose mothers took probiotics at the end of pregnancy and when nursing were half as likely to have an itchy skin condition resembling eczema called atopic dermatitis.

    Another study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, showed that babies whose mothers had taken 6 grams of Chlorella pyrenoidosa tablets during the last 6 months of pregnancy had lower concentrations of environmental toxins and higher concentrations of healthy antibodies. Always talk to your doctor before taking nutritional supplements when you're pregnant or nursing.
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    With smart and sometimes very small adjustments, your life can be much the same as it was before fibromyalgia. For example, if you had a regular fitness routine, you can still enjoy that, but you may need to decrease the intensity of your workouts or try some new forms of exercise. You can still enjoy the foods you love, but you may have to pay more attention to how those foods make you feel and avoid or cut back on ingredients (such as the artificial sweetener aspartame) that cause symptom flare-ups. Another key to living a normal life with fibromyalgia is communicating well and often with family and friends about your condition, so they can help you live the kind of life you want. Little changes like these can make a big difference in how you live with fibromyalgia.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Fibromyalgia is considered to be a chronic pain condition, but pain is only one of the many troublesome symptoms women with fibromyalgia are likely to experience. In many cases, pain is not their worst difficulty. In a survey of almost 2,600 people with fibromyalgia -- 97% of whom were women -- approximately two in five identified the following problems:

    Pain:
    • Low back pain
    • Headaches
    • Arthritis
    • Muscle spasm
    Sleep and tiredness:
    • Chronic fatigue
    Digestive issues:
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Bloating
    Emotional distress:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    Nervous system problems:
    • Balance difficulties
    • Numbness
    • Tingling
    Some people may find that one or two symptoms really bother and limit them. Others are affected by pain in many parts of their bodies. Sometimes, fibromyalgia involves having pain, feeling exhausted, and being afraid that your next meal will set off a bout of diarrhea. Others may be worn out by a combination of pain, not being able to get a good night's sleep, and constant anxiety.
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    The first step you should take to feel better and improve your quality of life if you have fibromyalgia is to find a doctor who understands how to diagnose and treat this condition. Many people with fibromyalgia suffer needlessly because they do not receive the proper care.

    You can also take steps on your own to help manage your symptoms on a daily basis and live a live a healthier, more satisfying life with fibromyalgia. For example:
    • Get plenty of sleep. Insomnia can worsen pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. If you're not sleeping well, tell your doctor.
    • Exercise regularly. Studies show that regular physical activity can help you to manage fibromyalgia symptoms.
    • Eat a balanced diet. Be sure to include plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean protein, and fish. These foods are all rich in healthful nutrients.
    • Control stress. It worsens fibromyalgia symptoms. Practicing relaxation therapies such as meditation and yoga can help you manage stress.
    • Prevent fibromyalgia flare-ups. Stress, cold weather, and exercising too hard are just a few factors that can cause fibromyalgia symptoms to worsen. Identify your triggers and avoid or control them.
    • Rethink your job and work environment, if necessary. If you need to rest more on the job or work fewer hours, talk to your employer. Some people with fibromyalgia find it necessary to change to jobs that are less taxing or stressful.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    There are many lifestyle changes you can make to improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Try using moist heat applications or warm baths twice daily to help decrease pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia. Some people find that applying pressure to painful trigger points helps to reduce pain and allows you to move around more. Sitting properly at your work station and taking frequent breaks to stretch can help ease neck and shoulder pain. Getting up, moving around, and stretching your body are all important in reducing the muscle pain. Exercise helps boost endorphins, the body's natural opioids. Not only is exercise a good way to increase fitness, but it can also improve your mood.
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    Living with fibromyalgia doesn't mean you have to accept a life of pain, fatigue, or other uncomfortable symptoms. There are quite a few things you can do to feel better every day while living with fibromyalgia.
    • Start by eating healthy. Incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, "healthy" fats, such as olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon (or take an omega-3 supplement).
    • Get moderate exercise every day -- even when you don't feel like it. Light to moderate aerobic activity such as walking, swimming, or light jogging can decrease your fibromyalgia symptoms.
    • Try a restorative yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates class. Recent research has shown all three to help ease some symptoms of fibromyalgia, particularly pain.
    •  Follow a regular sleep routine. Get adequate sleep, and try to rise and go to bed at the same time every morning and evening.
    • Focus on activities that bring you joy. Visit museums, go to concerts, chat with friends, take in a film -- anything that makes you smile and gets your mind off fibromyalgia.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    When you tell your partner you have fibromyalgia, you can hope for the best. But don't be surprised if he or she is confused, frustrated, or even angry. The problem is that some people really don't know how to respond to news that a partner has fibromyalgia. That's probably due at least in part to misunderstanding about this condition. As your partner learns more about fibromyalgia, he or she may become more understanding and supportive. If fibromyalgia puts a major strain in your relationship, though, consider seeing a couples counselor.
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