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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.