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Getting to grips with fibromyalgia

There is no doubt that living with fibromyalgia can be very challenging. But you don’t have to put your life on hold by waiting for the symptoms to go.

After working with many people who suffer from fibromyalgia, Dr Sue Peacock from The Saxon Clinic has collated the top ten tips that they use to manage their condition.

Living with persistent pain, fatigue and brain fog is highly difficult for people with fibromyalgia. However, there are ways to make living with the condition easier. Yes, it often means making adjustments to many aspects of your life, but if you do, you can still achieve things and have fun, just perhaps in a different way to what you originally thought. By taking charge of your condition, you can regain a sense of control over your life and your self-esteem and confidence can improve, enabling your quality of life to get better too.

Here are Dr Sue Peacock’s top ten tips on managing the condition:

  1. Always remember the 4 P’s – pacing, problem solving, prioritising and planning. Make sure to include rest breaks into your daily planning. Getting adequate rest and sleep are important too.
  2. Talk to your family and friends. Let them know about your condition and how it makes you feel, physically and emotionally. Ask for help if you need it. Be prepared to say “No” sometimes if you feel that something would be too much for you.
  3. Gentle exercise, such as walking even a short distance or exercising in a warm pool, can help reduce pain and stiffness.
  4. Get into the habit of writing things down to avoid the frustration of ‘fibro fog’.
  5. Keep a journal so you can record your progress and also notice triggers that may increase your pain and/or fatigue. This will provide useful information that you can use to manage your condition.
  6. Keep all your pain relieving remedies close by, particularly on a bad day (for example, hot water bottles, wheat packs, relaxation CDs/downloads, self-hypnosis CDs, cushions, pillows and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine.)
  7. A long soak in a warm bath or hot tub can help to relax tense muscles.
  8. Make time for yourself. Allocate ‘me’ time, where you can spend 30 minutes or so just doing something you enjoy without feeling guilty. It’s part of your self-management plan!
  9. Perhaps try decaf tea or coffee occasionally, as caffeine can increase anxiety and insomnia. Also be aware of your intake of coffee, some soft drinks and chocolate.
  10. Practice relaxation and self-hypnosis. If you practice regularly it will be more beneficial when you are in flare up.

Remember, long term health conditions like fibromyalgia vary from day to day, so if today isn’t a good day, try not to feel too negative and try some of the above techniques. Tomorrow might be a more energy, less pain and fatigue fibromyalgia day.