How to Stop the Pain: 7 Facts That People Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia should Know

When you are first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may feel overwhelmed.  All you can think of is you want to stop the pain.  That is your number one concern.  Then you learn that fibromyalgia is not like other illnesses – there is no one best treatment. You need to re-learn how to live within your body.

Here are 7 facts that can help you understand what is happening to your body, and how you can begin to find real effective ways to feel better, and live better.

  1. Fibromyalgia is not a disease that can be cured with medicine like an antibiotic, or with surgery.  But know that you can learn what works – from a qualified doctor, and with your own efforts – to give you a better quality of life.
  2. Research – and real life – shows us that when it comes to feeling better, the power to improve lies in part to your ability to take control of your self-care.
  3. Self-care means making a number of changes, rather than a having a single treatment. Lifestyle, medications, how you move during the day, exercise, adding therapies for your mind as well as your body – all are tools you can learn to use to manage your pain much more successfully.
  4. You may worry that the pain of fibromyalgia is from damage happening to your muscles and joints. This may make you concerned about what you can safely to do for treatment. But there is some good news.  Doctors have found that symptoms you are experiencing are caused by over-activation of nerves.  Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness in your joints, tendons and muscles, but it won’t damage them. Experts are increasingly looking at fibromyalgia as a nerve condition.
  5. Even if fibromyalgia does not directly damage muscles, it may affect the way you use them – or don’t use them.  The long-term pain may cause you become less active, and loss of strength may worsen your symptoms unless you find ways to stay active.  Explore movements, stretch breaks, walks and mild exercises to help reduce soreness.
  6. Sleep matters a lot when it comes to reducing your pain.  But how can you possibly get a good night’s sleep?  Studies show that it’s not just the pain – but the thoughts you think in your head have a lot to do with your ability to sleep.  You may not believe it now, but using therapies to help you drop negative thinking, calm your mind, and do activities you enjoy can improve sleep.  Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one way to find the mental energy you need to take good care of yourself
  7. The science of pain management has come a long way.  Prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine, and nutritional supplements can be part of your health care plan, but there is no magic pill for fibromyalgia.

It may take some time to feel confident in your ability to control your pain.  It is important not to suffer in silence.  If you are seeing a doctor who understands and specializes in fibromyalgia, talk about your experiences.  It may take be hard at first to have to open up to so many new approaches to wellness.  You may have to consider making some lifestyle changes you would rather not have to make.  But once you find a doctor with information you can work with to help yourself feel better, you can find a real a path to wellness.

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.

Fibromyalgia Holiday Survival Guide

7 Tips for Surviving — Even Celebrating — Holidays When You Have Fibromyalgia

They’re coming.  The winter holidays.  In New Jersey, where I live and work, Thanksgiving brings on weeks of more traffic, bigger crowds and longer lines at restaurants and shopping centers. If you have fibromyalgia, it’s also time to protect your health.

Let’s pause right now and make a plan so you can enjoy the holidays as much as possible.

Time management is key to surviving the holidays with fibromyalgia.

Here are my 7 fibromyalgia holiday survival tips. They’re the simplest, easiest tips for controlling stress and saving your best energies to be with your family and friends:

  1. Remember, you don’t have to do everything.  You don’t have to make meals or dishes from scratch or even cook every meal.  If you are hosting the holiday meal, make it pot luck.   Everyone loves to bring a favorite dish.
  2. No need to go all-out.  Keep your meals simple.  Keep menu plans simple.
  3. Decorating should be fun and bring you joy. Make it a family affair, or invite friends over to help decorate. Again you don’t have to have too many decorations, put out the ones that mean the most to you, or have special memories.
  4. Decide first what’s most important to you.  Just do that.  Is it attending a service? Is it spending time with family? Save your energy just for this.
  5. Find family and friends you enjoy and savor the time with them. By now, you’ve learned that some people are more understanding of fibromyalgia than others.  Some people don’t yet ‘get it.’ You may be worried about offending some people if you don’t eat what they’ve fixed or take part in their plans.  Use what you’ve learned about saying no, and say no. Say yes to the things you enjoy and are important to you. Make good memories.
  6. Tell others what you want.  Be as open as you can about what makes this time special for you – whether it’s having some holiday lights put up; having someone bring home a special treat, or having some time to yourself so you can relax, unwind, and have the rest you need.
  7. Remember to breathe.  This helps decrease stress.  Get as much sleep as you can. Find a way to make your favorite relaxation techniques part of your day, even if your ordinary routine has gone out the window.

My best suggestion is really this: Do what is most important!

Of course you want to feel your best, and enjoy yourself and your loved ones during the holidays.

Putting yourself and your health first may be one of the hardest things to do during the holidays.  But this can be the best time to set yourself free. Allow yourself to focus on what makes them the best they can be, for you, and do away with the rest.

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.