This is a conversation sponsored by Social Barricuda.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome without a known cause. It’s not arthritis, but arthritis and injuries are often accompanied by fibromyalgia. People often receive a fibromyalgia diagnosis after all other possibilities have been ruled out. Fibromyalgia isn’t life-threatening, nor is it crippling. There are many effective methods of coping with it. One way, of course, is medicine, although there’s no official medical treatment for fibromyalgia and oftentimes pain medications aren’t effective–and they can cause serious side effects when taken for too long. The best methods of dealing with fibromyalgia are non-medical coping mechanisms. A health professional can provide the best advice, but below are a few recommendations.
Sleep might be the most important method of dealing with fibromyalgia. Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep reduces pain, and that even people without fibromyalgia start developing symptoms when they are too sleep-deprived. Unfortunately, this disease can disturb sleep and make it hard to stay properly rested. It’s important for those with fibromyalgia can do everything possible to get a good night’s sleep, such as reducing caffeine intake, making sure their bedroom is quiet, and spending the hour before bed winding down. They may also need to be assessed for a possible sleeping disorder.
While stress doesn’t cause fibromyalgia, it is proven to increase the severity of symptoms. People who suffer from fibromyalgia need to do their best to avoid high levels of stress and anxiety–which may be hard, since many people with fibromyalgia have stressful jobs with long hours and lots of errands to do. They need to do their best to prioritize an hour or so a day of relaxation with friends over a good drink (in moderation!) or with a book or simply with television.
People suffering from fibromyalgia are recommended to engage in low-impact, aerobic activity at least three times per week (a good recommendation for healthy people as well). Swimming is the best option, since the stress is much lower on the joints, also an exercise bike is another way to go. People with fibromyalgia need to ease in to their exercise regimens. They need to monitor their pain levels closely and not be afraid to take a break if it gets to be too much. Stretching, if nothing else, will be helpful. If people have a job where they sit for several hours, it’s important for them to take regular brief breaks to get up, stretch, and walk around. If it’s possible, they might want to invest in a standing desk. They should also maintain good posture, perhaps with the help of lumbar support pad or ergonomically designed chairs.
If you feel called to help people dealing with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions, you might consider pursuing higher higher education focusing on a medical career, such as physical therapy, or even nursing or pursuing an MD. On the other hand, you may want to do something that takes less time to become certified in, such as massage therapy, which can still provide a lot of relief for those in pain.