Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fibromyalgia Resources

So I just put this little thing together for my mother in law who has a co-worker struggling with Fibromyalgia. Now that I look at it I feel like I left so much out, but I think it's a good primer for starting to deal with fibro. It is by no way exhaustive, and I am in no way a doctor. This is just my little take on it, in simplest terms possible.


Because there are so many theories out there, it is hard to even begin to address the cause and treatment of fibromyalgia. I think it is important for you to find what works the best for your individual self and disregard other techniques. Below is the basics of what I have found helpful, and nothing extra. But remember everyone is different and the pain and fatigue caused by fibromyalgia effects everyone differently.

Sleep
There are many important aspects to taking care of yourself when diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Different people will have different opinions on what is the most important. Restorative sleep has been the most important for me. I was only getting two or so hours of consecutive sleep at a time which was not helping my body repair and renew itself from the day before. Also sleep dysfunction is seen as perhaps one of the main contributors to fibromyalgia itself.


There are many medications that your doctor can prescribe to help you sleep continuously. Also there are a number of supplements available to help you sleep. Melatonin has been particularly helpful for me, but make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any kind of supplement treatment.

Also maintaining appropriate sleep practices is important.
• Maintain a sleep schedule, going to sleep and waking at the same times every day.
• Limit your napping in the afternoon: this one is hard because fibromyalgia can be extremely exhausting. I find that if I am too tired it is hard for me to sleep at night. If you need to nap limit to no more than an hour in the late afternoon. I try to nap in the early afternoon, but that is not always practical.
• Don’t eat too soon before going to bed, either dinner or snacks. Digestion requires energy and may inhibit sleep.
• Be aware of light, noise, television, temperature etc that may distract you from falling asleep or staying asleep. I sleep better now that the television is out of the bedroom. Use light blocking shades and white noise machines if they help.
• Give yourself time to unwind before bed and create a routine. If watching the news stresses you out, refrain from watching it before bed. Read a book that relaxes you, meditate, listen to music. Whatever works for you.
• Have comfortable bedding: I can’t stress how important this was for me. I already have an incredibly comfortable mattress, but I added a wool mattress pad and I became instantly more comfortable. I also had try different configurations with pillows and different pillows to find what worked best for me.
• Remember, just because something works for someone else it may not work for you. Do not get discouraged and keep trying on getting the restful sleep you need.


Healthy Diet and Exercise
It’s common sense right? To eat healthy and be active. But with fibromyalgia it is SO HARD to do that some times. The way I see it, there is no cure for fibromyalgia and the treatments are wide and vary in the success. Why not make yourself as healthy as possible to begin with. When fibromyalgia is at it’s worse some people discover that they have sensitivities to certain foods. I personally discovered a gluten sensitivity as well as a short term dairy sensitivity. If you feel that something might be making you sick, remove it from your diet and see how it makes you feel.

The best you can do is use common sense. Eat fruit and vegetables as well as proteins. Some days I discover by eating some eggs or chicken, the protein helps my pain immensely. If you don’t feel like eating a lot because you are not feeling great, make what you do eat count. Some days the only thing I can eat is oatmeal or scrambled eggs, but at least I’m benefiting from it.

When I talk about exercise I’m not suggesting you go out and run five miles, or purchase a gym membership. I’m more referring to movement. Don’t get stagnant. If you sit at a desk all day, make sure to get up a few times during the day and walk around the office. Take a walk up the road after dinner to stretch your muscle and help digest your food. I still can do little more than walk at a brisk pace, but I do it as much as I can. Last year I couldn’t even walk the length of my block. But now I can walk several blocks, sometimes even carrying groceries. Take it slow and work up to more activity. It keeps you healthy, it helps with the pain, and it usually puts me in a good mood.

I also really enjoy yoga. Other suggestions might be Tai Chi and water aerobics. Any low impact activity that gets you moving.


Treatments
It’s hard to find a doctor that can treat all aspects of fibromyalgia and that is the most frustrating part. Traditional medicine does have some good medications available: I take Cymbalta, but there are several out there. If you want to go this route and haven’t yet, be sure to talk to your doctor about the best one for you. Also there are muscle relaxants and like I mentioned before sleep aids that can help with your symptoms. I do not have any suggestions as far as pain medication goes. I take ibuprofen, anything else makes me sick. It doesn’t always do the trick, but it is better than nothing.
Non- traditional treatments are varied. There is chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, etc. If one or more of these things interests you and fits into your budget I suggest you at least try them. I’ve found some great relief through chiropractic and massage therapy.

Supplements
There are all kinds of over the counter supplements available for treating fibromyalgia out there. Because fibromyalgia has such varied symptoms and it is different for everybody there isn’t any one thing that works. I can give you a list of some that I have tried and found success with. Talk with your doctor before taking anything, because supplements can interfere with prescription medications and other medical conditions.
• Multi-vitamin: if you are not already taking a multi-vitamin one might be helpful. My doctor suggested a prenatal vitamin because it contains more vitamins and minerals than an average one a day.
• Calcium: It is not only good for the bones, but aids in muscle function.
• Magnesium: this also helps with muscle function and has been great for calming my sore and tight muscles.
• B-complex vitamins: there are 12 essential components that make up the B complex. B vitamins aid in metabolic reactions, heart health, and immune system function. They also help relieve fatigue.
• Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These two are usually found together and help ease joint pain. It is used most commonly by arthritis suffers because it helps reduce cartilage damage, but many people, including me find it helpful for fibromyalgia.


Other Resources
Finally there are so many other resources out there to help you understand and treat fibromyalgia. Everyone has their own theory and their own treatment. If you read them you have to take them with a grain of salt, and realize that not everything is going to work for you. I’ve found that finding a combination of what works best for my lifestyle and body. I am not one for high maintenance treatments, or limiting myself from things that I enjoy.

If you go into a book store there may be a dozen books that address fibromyalgia. The one that I found with the best information in it is Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia by Mary J. Shomon. While I have found this the best it also has things in it that I disagree with or do not find useful.

There are also several websites that you can visit that have an endless amount of information on them:

• The National Fibromyalgia Association: www.fmaware.org
• Chronic Babe: www.chronicbabe.com
• Healthy Women: www.healthywomen.org

From there you can find other websites and personal sites of people living and working with fibromyalgia.

2 comments:

James Kildare said...

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judyschoon said...

Great blog Tine, lots of info that even I can understand. Keep writing hugs mom