Fibro Fatigue: 5 Coping Tips

Fatigue is a debilitating, all encompassing feeling of exhaustion.

This guest post has been written by Ann-Marie D’Arcy-Sharpe, a Pain Educator and Blogger at Pathways Health Ltd. She and I both live with Fibromyalgia; she also lives with Arthritis and Bipolar disorder. Her article is so timely for me, as I have been suffering from the daily fatigue that comes with living with our condition. Please enjoy reading her tips!

One of the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia, along with widespread pain, is fatigue. Fatigue is a debilitating, all encompassing feeling of exhaustion. Personally I find fatigue one of the most difficult symptoms of fibromyalgia to live with and to push through. It can feel as though your entire body is being weighed down. Every action feels like an extreme effort. It can even make you feel as though you’re thinking through a fog. 

We’re all individuals so we will each experience our symptoms, including fatigue, in different ways and to different degrees. My fatigue is a symptom I experience daily, even when my pain levels and other symptoms are well managed. Over time I’ve had to learn how to cope with fatigue so that I can function in the best way I can in spite of it. I wanted to share five coping tips I hope could be useful for other fibromyalgia warriors.

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Pain Awareness Month

Find a purpose through your pain.

As Pain Awareness Month comes to an end, I wanted to offer some words of encouragement to those who might be suffering. In the words of Minnie Mouse:

“Sometimes things scare us, but we find ways to cope.”

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Can Your Diet Affect Chronic Pain?

There are certain foods that are considered to cause inflammation in the body.

While pain is defined as “physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury,” chronic pain is pain lasting longer than three months. Chronic pain affects over 100 million Americans; that’s more people than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Each September is designated as Pain Awareness Month where advocates like me help to raise awareness about issues related to chronic pain.

The most common forms of chronic pain are from migraines, lower back pain, knees, and neck pain. I happen to suffer from back and neck issues, along with fibromyalgia, and suffer some level of pain daily. Chronic pain can lead to depression, trouble sleeping or concentrating, and is the number one reason for long-term disability care in the U.S. It is very difficult to treat chronic pain. Opioids are often prescribed to people seeking relief from chronic pain, yet only about 23% of people experience relief. This can then lead to misuse, people self-increasing their dosages, and then often an addiction to pain killers.

Chronic pain manifests itself differently in everyone, which also means there is no one size fits all answer to treating it. Drugs, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, or supplements/diet – or some combination of the above – may offer relief. While an imbalanced diet may not be causing your migraines or back pain, it’s no secret that proper nutrition is the foundation to a healthy life, so why not consider your diet when it comes to chronic pain?

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A Holistic Approach to Fibromyalgia

Holistic health focuses on the whole person rather than individual illness or specific body parts.

As fibromyalgia is a complex and poorly understood syndrome, with no defined cause, I have found that doctors are more inclined to just treat symptoms. Years ago I became disillusioned and weary of the medical approach of prescribing medication for symptoms, rather than trying to get to the root cause of various health problems, so I started taking more control of my own health journey (read more: Becoming Your Own Health Advocate). I want to share how I approach my health and fibromyalgia holistically.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my approach will work for anyone else, let alone everyone else. We are all individuals with different ailments, pain levels and thresholds, environments, and situations. I am just sharing my approach to managing my fibromyalgia to minimize flares and the disruption to daily life. And first, you have to understand what I mean by “holistic.”

“Holistic health is actually an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific body parts…[it] considers the whole person.”

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