Fibromyalgia, a condition that’s characterized by widespread, chronic pain, affects more than 3.7 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation.1 There’s no cure for this condition, but patients, working with their doctors, can find ways to manage their fibromyalgia.
These seven tips may help you cope with fibromyalgia pain:
1. Keep a Journal
A journal may be a valuable tool for understanding any possible triggers for your symptoms. Take just a few minutes a day to write about any symptoms you had, as well as any potential triggers, such as stress or lack of sleep. Look through your journal over time, and you might be able to identify – and avoid – frequent triggers.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise may help ease your chronic pain symptoms. Exercise such as walking or swimming may not only alleviate fibromyalgia pain, but also help you sleep better and be less likely to suffer from depression. Aim for thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, which will help stretch sore muscles and improve heart and lung function. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
3. Try to Minimize Stress
Stress is thought to play a role in triggering fibromyalgia pain. You can’t completely eliminate stress, of course, but try to identify areas in your life that cause you to be particularly anxious. If your job is causing stress, for example, you could perhaps scale back the number of hours you work or talk to your supervisor about ways to address areas of concern.
4. Utilize Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques may help you better cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best to help you relieve stress. Biofeedback helps some people, while others find meditation to be effective. Find a method that works best for you, and make it a priority to regularly engage in its practice.
5. Practice Good Sleep Habits
If you’re in pain, your sleep is more likely to be disrupted. Make your bedroom a sanctuary by investing in a good, comfortable mattress and eliminating electronic devices from the room. A heated mattress pad or body pillow may also help you sleep better and wake up with less pain than usual. Finally, try to go to sleep and wake up at close to the same time every night, even on the weekends.
6. Limit – or Eliminate – Caffeine
Caffeine may increase nervousness and anxiety, which may cause your fibromyalgia pain to worsen. It may also interfere with your sleep. Cut back on caffeine, or eliminate it entirely from your diet, to see if you experience a reduction in symptoms. Caffeine is found not only in coffee and sodas, but also in tea and chocolate and even some pain relievers.
7. Join a Support Group
Fibromyalgia can be isolating, because other people may not understand your symptoms, and you may find yourself curtailing your regular activities due to pain. Joining a support group can have invaluable psychological benefits, allowing you to connect with others who have a more complete understanding of your condition. In addition, you can exchange practical ways to help cope with pain, receive treatment, reduce stress, and more. Your doctor may be able to point you toward a local support group, and you can also connect with others online, like the Fibromyalgia Network.
Summing It Up
Fibromyalgia affects different people in different ways. Work with your doctor to learn what your particular triggers may be and how you can best cope with and reduce your pain.