Ways to cope with fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to handle, especially when you have children. Here are some ways to cope with this chronic pain syndrome.

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  • While the term, fibromyalgia is rather new in the medical field, the pain and fatigue that many women (and men) have experienced as a result of this disease has been around for many years; often debilitating and overwhelming, it is labeled as overactive nerves, or a set of "trigger points" on the body that produce pain. The medical field took many years to diagnose the condition, mainly because patient's symptoms were hard to pinpoint or could have been attributed to other diseases with similar symptoms and signs.

  • There are also other names associated with fibromyalgia, including Chronic Pain Syndrome or Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Because the disease can't be detected by a blood, urine, or x-ray, doctors have had to rely on patient's symptomology. In order to be diagnosed, you must have experienced pain for 3 months or longer, with no known cause and have tender points on 18 specific trigger points of the body, this from theCenters for Disease Control.

  • As to the cause, some doctors have a theory that patients have more sensitive nerve fibers that "misfire" and lead to pain, or experienced an emotional event, which triggered the condition. Others think it's from a defective gene.

  • Symptoms of fibromyalgia

  • In addition to pain, people with fibromyalgia could also have:

  • Fibromyalgia can also cause depression and anxiety, mainly due to the overall pain and worry of trying to take care of themselves and their family, and the now famous "Fibro Fog", where mental clarity and memory are impaired. The pain can be mild or severe, depending on the person. Until my diagnosis, I never realized just how many people suffer. According to Women's Health.gov, there are as many as 5 million Americans, over the age of 18, who currently live with this disease. Doctors do not know the cause of fibromyalgia, and there is no cure.

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  • A typical day with someone suffering from fibromyalgia can include pain and stiffness in the morning, fatigue from tossing and turning all night, and the knowledge that another day with pain is your reality. During the day, the pain lessens a little, but if you sit or stand for too long, your muscles can cramp up. Your neck and back ache, and sometimes, goes into spasms. By nighttime, you usually need a hot bath and a relaxing evening, even medication.

  • I have learned that doing things repeatedly aggravates my muscles, so scrubbing the tub or floors, or vacuuming is out for me. Sometimes, pushing a heavy cart is too much, and my kids have to help me.

  • The most important thing I have found is to find support and love from your family. They need to know what is going on — especially your children. They need to know that mommy will not die from this disease but that she will need help when she has "bad days". It is vitally important that you have help doing things that are hard to do. Here is a list of ways I think will help in coping with fibromyalgia.

  • 1. Accept the diagnosis

  • When I was diagnosed, I felt angry, depressed, and helpless. The important thing to remember is that there is help and support. The more you dwell on your condition, the worse things will seem. You have to be fully engaged in a cause, not sitting back and doing nothing.

  • 2. Find a doctor that specializes in fibromyalgia

  • This is very important. It does you no good if the doctor has no idea how the disease affects you.

  • 3. Find support

  • You need your family to accept the way you are, and they need to understand your limitations. There are helpful sites that have discussion forums and chat areas for patients, family and friends.

  • 4.

  • Get educated

  • The best thing is to educate yourself. There are numerous sites on the Internet that provide information and resources, but don't overdo it. Knowledge is great, but too much can be overwhelming. Also, talk with your doctor and discuss, specifically, what you can expect in terms of treatment and symptoms.

  • 5.

  • Don't be afraid to take medication

  • Several drugs being used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia have side effects. Talk to your doctor and find out about the types being used and which one would be right for you. Other alternative therapy such as the Essential oils, peppermint and lavender, help with headaches, circulation, and stress.

  • 6.

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  • Know your limitations

  • You know when your body has had enough, so pace yourself and only do those things you are capable of doing. Stop before you do too much. Your family would rather have mom or dad resting a little each day, than stuck in bed for days.

  • 7.

  • Try low-impact exercise

  • Yoga and simple walking have been the best exercise for me. It keeps me flexible and moving, yet isn't hard on my joints like aerobic exercise or running.

  • 8. Last, but not least —

  • don't give up hope

  • Fibromyalgia does not need to rule your life. You can find the help and support you need to get the relief you desire. It is interesting that one, who has never had to deal with a disease, is suddenly thrust into it when I was diagnosed. I was already suffering from a panic disorder, so I never suspected the muscle pain with which I had been struggling all these years was attributed to something that finally had a name.

  • Fibromyalgia may be painful, but it does not have to be debilitating. There is more research than ever before about this disease, and new treatments are on the way.

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Julia Nielsen is currently parenting three kids with pitfalls and pleasures. She co-authored two published books in "The Crystal Locket" series, and graduated from the Institute of Children's Literature in 2005. Check out her blog: http://jewelswrites.blogspot.com

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