Topic of the discussion
Posted on 8/31/18 4:57 PM
Here is an article from the blog of a fibromyalgia patient that we decided to share with you. It is a first-hand experience and there is probably something new for you to discover, or another point of view on handling your flare ups.
Hopefully, these tips are beneficial for you or for someone you know who is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
If you agree or disagree with these tips, or have something to add, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article to continue this dicussion
NB: Please be sure to consult your doctor if you undertake any major changes in your lifestyle or if you wish to modify your treatment.
It’s a fact; when you have fibromyalgia you will experience setbacks from time-to-time. Even if you have been managing your condition well for a while, a flare up can still occur and knock you flat on your face. It is a part of the condition and something that we need to accept can happen when we over-do things.
A flare-up may seem unexpected but there is almost always a cause. Sometimes it will be glaringly obvious, such as eating food you know doesn’t agree with you, other times you might be left feeling clueless. I personally try not to over think it if I am unsure of the cause and instead focus on what I can do to make myself feel better.
It is only natural to get upset about it and to feel frustrated and angry. Flare-ups can be scary and sometimes leave you wondering if you will be stuck feeling this way. It can be hard to envision your health ever improving, especially if it drags on for weeks.
Advice on how to handle a setback:
This is the most important thing that you can do for yourself but it is often the most difficult (due to pressures that you place upon yourself). By nature, we want to push and battle on through, especially when we are working.
While you may manage to do this from time-to-time, you are actually doing yourself no favours at all. Your symptoms may subside slightly but you will find that you don’t quite recover to the same level as before.
A flare up is essentially your body’s way of saying it is not coping. If you keep on pushing, which is what I did for a long time, flares will occur more often and eventually your body will reach a point where it is in a constant flare.
At this point your body is running on adrenaline and eventually this will lead to collapse. This is exactly what happened to me. Please take my advice; stop and rest. Allow your body the time it needs to recover when you experience a flare.
2. Listen to your body
As I mentioned, a flare up is your body’s way of saying it is not coping. You need to listen to your body and your intuition on what is right for you. The aim is to minimise and overcome your symptoms. If you are tired, rest; sleep as often as you need to. I personally find that I sleep for hours on end when I am in a flare.
If you are in pain, use heat pads, go for a soak in the bath, meditate or do anything that you know helps you. Be guided by what your body wants and needs. I have only one exception to this: food.
I used to be in the mindset that if you feel terrible then you should eat whatever you want as it will help you to feel better. What I have learned since then is that comfort foods only help your emotional side to feel better. They actually do the complete opposite for your body, which means your symptoms are exacerbated.
When you are in a flare, you must view food differently. Certain foods, such as wheat, dairy and refined-sugar cause inflammation. When you are in a flare you are looking to reduce inflammation, not add to it. Be very careful about what you eat and choose foods that will nourish your body and help it to heal.
3. Remain calm and relaxed
Be vigilant about your breathing to ensure that you are breathing properly. If you are holding your breath or breathing rapidly then your pain will become worse. Meditate or take time out just to focus on your breathing. You want to keep yourself calm and relaxed to minimise stress.
Stress should be considered the enemy as stress hormones wreak havoc in our bodies and make us feel so much worse. Try not to focus too much on your symptoms and distract yourself by doing activities you enjoy. For example, I will put on Disney films when I am in the early stages of a flare as I am not able to do much and struggle to concentrate but these are easy to watch, cheer me up and take my mind off things.
4. Accept it for what it is
Flare ups happen to us all. They should be viewed as a temporary setback. It is only natural to worry and question “is this what my life will be like from now on?” I have asked myself this exact question many times and even got to the point where I was ready to accept it.
The problem is that stressing about your flare up will lead to an increase in cortisol and adrenaline levels in your body, making you feel a million times worse. You need to remain calm and try to not focus on your symptoms. Take on the attitude of “what will be will be” and trust that it can get better. Just look at my story as an example. I know with certainty that I will be able to get back to that point again.
5. Embrace change
I am going to give you a bit of tough love here. If you are finding that you are constantly experiencing setbacks or feel as though you are in a constant flare then you need to change your life. The prospect of this is a scary one.
If you are anything like me then it is something you will be in complete denial about and be unwilling to accept for a very long time. You will worry that change might not bring about any benefits. Pride will hold you back too as you don’t want to accept that you are no longer coping.
When work is involved, it’s natural to be concerned about losing part of your identity or to feel like you would be giving up too much. I am not saying you have to give up work, I’m just saying that work might have to be different.
I don’t have all the answers for you and I can’t tell you what you should do. Only you will know what’s right for you and you need to be guided by your intuition. All I can say with certainty is that is is possible to live well with this condition but to do that life needs to be at a slower pace. It’s up to you to decide as to whether that’s worth it or not.
Beginning of the discussion - 4/19/195 Tips to Handle A Flare-Up https://www.carenity.us/forum/fibromyalgia/living-with-fibromyalgia/5-tips-to-handle-a-flareup-412
Posted on 4/19/19 2:31 AM
Thank you Lee for sharing. I enjoyed reading this. Listening to your body is key and knowing when is too much and when to rest and/or push a bit forward.
Posted on 5/24/19 3:13 AM
4 and 5 are the hardest to come by, but once you can accept and embrace the changes, I think you have arrived at the turning point! There will always be ups and downs though. Sending well thoughts to everyone dealing with this condition.
Posted on 8/9/20 7:03 PM
This helps. Thank you! Has anyone else experienced both fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain?
Posted on 8/10/20 5:18 PM
@Edythe Yes, I have both of those! I feel it in my shoulder and it shoots down my arms. It's awful. I was originally told it was peripheral neuropathy, but then a few years ago my doctor told me the clinical definition had changed and it was no longer considered that.
Posted on 8/10/20 5:34 PM
Have you found any relief at all? You can Google ConsultQD: Why Fibromyalgia is Neuropathic for some good info. I have just discovered I also have costochondritis which is fibromyalgia chest pain (muscles and bones). I figured this out myself with research. There is info out there but not much about how to get relief. Frustrating. If you Google Healthline you can get a fair bit of info. I would love to hear if you find any answers.
Posted on 8/11/20 4:50 PM
@Edythe Thank you for the article, I'll give it a read. Not really, I've been on cymbalta with middling results. I'm starting to look into other medications or even alternative therapies at this point. Yes, the frustration is real. I have an appointment to see my doctor soon, so maybe he'll have something new!
Posted on 8/11/20 5:05 PM
Would love to hear if you hear anything new. I'm thinking of alternative therapies too. I won't be seeing my rheumatologist until November but in the meantime I'll keep searching for something. It's good to connect.
Posted on 9/8/20 1:02 AM
My fibromyalgia flare (and neuropathic pain) just disappeared one day - almost a month from when it started. No reason I could see. It seemed to just run its course and that was it. I'm sure it will resurface but until then, I feel so much better. This is the second time in a year this has happened.