Is it Fibromyalgia or Something Else?

Chronic, widespread pain. Fatigue. Insomnia. Depression. Headaches. These are the common symptoms most people associate with Fibromyalgia Syndrome or FMS. But this syndrome is complex, its symptoms mimic other conditions, and it’s not easily diagnosed. There are well over 60 different symptoms that have been associated with this condition, some of which are comorbid or overlapping conditions. Muscle, skin, joint, cognitive, sensory, neurological, sleep-related, and the list goes on. For people like me, it can be difficult at times to determine if it’s just one of the myriad of things associated with FMS or if it’s something new. Sometimes it’s a guessing game: Is it Fibromyalgia or something else?
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Top 10 Things I Learned from Living with Fibromyalgia

I didn’t choose a life with fibromyalgia, it chose me. Many days I wish I was my old self, pain-free and full of energy. Yet, until a cure is found, this me has been the norm for close to 20 years now. I have learned to cope and live, and even thrive.

Scott Hamilton said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”

And so I want to share my top 10 lessons from life as a fibro warrior.

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Benefits of Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Help fight your fibro-fog! Yoga improves your mind’s ability to process information.

The thought of exercising when you are in the throes of pain and fatigue may seem counterintuitive, but that’s exactly why you should get moving. Research shows that regular exercise can reduce pain and improve overall health. There are additional benefits for fibro sufferers. But too strenuous of an exercise can certainly trigger a flare and set you into that vicious cycle of pain and fatigue, leaving you with no energy for working out. If this sounds like you, consider the practice of yoga to help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

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Fibromyalgia: An Invisible Condition

The definition of invisible is “unable to be seen; not visible to the naked eye.” Fibromyalgia is often called an invisible condition because people suffering from it don’t look sick. But we feel it. Marked by widespread pain and fatigue, sleeping issues, and “fibrofog,” many people with this condition put on their happy face and go about their day, all the while suffering in silence. We call ourselves FibroWarriors.

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Fight Fibromyalgia with Your Diet

The symptoms of fibromyalgia include chronic, debilitating widespread pain and fatigue. So if you could change your diet to ease up the symptoms of fibromyalgia, would you? I found this infographic to go along with my post from yesterday where I talked about diet strategies for dealing with fibromyalgia. This graphic is from Coury and Buehler Physical Therapy. You can find other practical info, graphics, and humor on my Pinterest board.

fibrodiet

Cheers!

Cynthia

What to Eat with Fibromyalgia

If I eat crap, I feel like crap. So I eat to stay healthy and energized, and to help me keep the fibroflares at bay. 

As with most chronic conditions, fibromyalgia symptoms and treatments are not a one-stop shop. No two people are alike in how their bodies react to the condition or to treatment. The thought of using food to heal oneself has been around for centuries, yet many people still reach for the over-processed, low nutritional value, fast foods – either from the grocery stores or eating out. I, myself, am hypersensitive to medications, so I have chosen to manage my condition through lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates

But just as no two treatments are alike, neither are the foods one should eat. A simple search for books on Amazon of “fibromyalgia diet” yielded 655 results, with this one being the most popular! But there are common foods that are more likely to trigger a reaction or flare and others that are good for reducing inflammation in the body. I offer some suggestions on finding what’s right for  you.

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4 Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Fibro Flare

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings.”

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, it’s best to plan ahead to try to avoid a flare rather than recover from one. Between visiting family and friends, shopping, and cooking, who has time right now to deal with the pain and exhaustion of fibromyalgia? Not me, that’s for sure! Who’s with me?

Here are my top tips for avoiding a flare during the holidays:

  1. Get your Zzzz’s. Yes, it’s tempting to stay up and visit, or get up early to get that turkey in the oven, but don’t sacrifice your sleep to do so. Your best offense is to get maintain your schedule and get those 7-9 hours of sleep! Your body will thank you.
  2. Take care of yourself. Hosting the family get-together? It’s OK to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Make it a pot luck. Or cater in part of the meal. I like to set the table and prepare desserts and part of the meal the night before so I am not overdoing it on the day of the big event! Consider buying some fancy paper plates instead of using the good china. And when the kitchen is clean and the guests are gone, try a relaxing bath before bed. 🙂
  3. Eat properly. Yes, it’s the holidays. We are all going to indulge a little. But try the three bite rule when it comes to dessert or your major weaknesses: take just 3 bites of that pie or casserole. It allows you to sample and enjoy, but not overdo it. Chew slowly and pause between bites.  Avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, or those foods that you know trigger your flares (Fibromyalgia, migraines, and IBS can all be triggered by food).
  4. Exercise. Taking even 10 minutes for some Pilates, yoga, or a walk after that big meal will help keep everything in check. Here are some yoga moves to try to keep your digestion working properly.

I love the holidays: the food, the parties, visiting family. But I don’t love being curled up in bed because I overdid it. I prefer to enjoy my family time and count my blessings. I can skip that pecan pie if it means I won’t be in bed the next day.

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” 

– Terri Marshall

Avoiding disaster is far better than recovering from it, and just a few simple steps can help you enjoy your holidays, so you’re not missing out on all of the fun!


Do you have other tips for avoiding a holiday flare?

Cheers!

Cynthia