Fibromyalgia often begins after an acute bout with the flu or some other prolonged viral condition. Fibromyalgia refers to recurrent aches and pains among other symptoms and is often accompanied by an inability to sleep and fatigue. The symptoms are varied and tend to come and go in intensity. It is a cycle where the pain inhibits sleep and lack of sleep leads to increased pain leading to decreased mobility.
There is a long list of possible and probable symptoms that include sleep disturbances, poor memory, inability to focus and concentrate, anxiety, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, disruption to menses, morning stiffness, numbness, tingling, aches or pains, swollen lymph glands, and sensitivity to the weather. The pain comes and goes in intensity and duration. When the nerves become oversensitive, the muscles can over react by remaining in a constant state of contraction and thus creating pain. These symptoms can last weeks, months, and sometimes years. Whenever this condition is suspected, it is advisable to consult with your doctor.
Diagnosis can be difficult. It has been found that people with Fibromyalgia have what are referred to as tender points in specific areas of the body such as behind the knees or the sides of the elbows. There are a total of 18 such tender points and people with Fibromyalgia usually have at least 11 of these 18 points.
This condition is also linked to stress and has become known as a condition prevalent among type A people. This refers to those people who are always on the go, know how to get things done but rarely take time out for themselves for rejuvenation. It has also been found to be more prevalent in women than in men since women more so tend to work inside and outside of the home.
Health professionals who deal with Fibromyalgia believe that inactivity is the worse response to the condition. The treatments are as varied as the symptoms with the best results occurring by the development of a program related to the specific needs of the individual. It is important to break the pain / fatigue / lack of sleep / pain cycle. Learning some useful relaxation techniques such as biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery: having bodywork sessions such as Polarity or Cranial Sacral Therapy and massage: or doing some gentle yoga, and a regular exercise program suited to your level of present capacity are all useful and helpful.
Vitamins that have been suggested as helpful are beta carotene, selenium, chelate zinc, and evening of primrose oil. Again it is wise to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program or the taking of vitamins.
There are a variety of things that have been found to be useful such as watching your posture, alternating tasks, exercising at your level of tolerance, swimming, walking, and applying heat. It is a case of trial and error to see which activities will bring relief to the particular individual, as some of the ideas will work for some of the people some of the time. It is a case of getting relief from pain by first getting the muscles to relax and second from getting them retrained so that they no longer over react. Using self-accupressure on the pain trigger sites helps reduce and then relieve pain. Learn to listen to your body and when the tension is felt to be building in the muscles, take the time and stretch it out slowly.
Herbs that some people have found to be helpful include Valerian, which helps with sleep, Skull Cap which helps to relax muscles, Feverfew which has been found to be helpful with headaches, Echinacea and Golden Seal which are thought to help the immune system, and chamomile tea which is thought to have a calming effect on the body.
Treating oneself to reading an uplifting, happy, funny, novel or watching such a movie has a positive effect on the body by stimulating the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.
Other helpful ideas include:
* sitting in a very bright room (e.g. full spectrum lighting)
* listening to classical music
* putting forth the effort to get well
* walking in water
* slow stretching of the muscles
* alternate nostril breathing
* taking a warm bubble bath
* setting realistic goals
* maintaining social contacts. Do so to the degree manageable
* establishing a regular exercise and stretching program.
Increase activities gradually over a period of time-too much too soon can cause a flare up and reoccurrence of symptoms.