I felt compelled to share a simple guide about this affliction that plagues many individuals: most of whom, are still in their productive years.
My most recent patient 57-year-old Kathryn (not her real name), was diagnosed with chronic fibromyalgia since she was 25 years old. She is deaf. She lip reads however and is also obese. She lives alone and has a baby dog weighing over a hundred pounds that she had to walk daily.
She complains she aches all over after walking her dog, but she still does it daily. When I first saw her for an evaluation, I just really thought she hated me on sight.
She complained about everything: how she had physical therapy before many times and it never helped. She added that she had been reading on the internet about fibromyalgia and that she knows that there is no cure for it. She saw pain management doctors and the shots she received did not help her either, as she stated. “Nothing worked, NOTHING will work, and you can’t help me either!”
There was only one question I asked her: “Have you ever tried letting KATHRYN, help …. KATHRYN?
This lady did a turnaround and took charge. First, we corrected her posture. I gave her exercises and instructions on how to correct her posture. We made it fun. She completed her physical therapy program just a few weeks ago. She made me so proud. What a difference she made in her life by working on changes herself.
Kathryn is not the only fibromyalgia patient that I had the privilege of working with. The ones who made a decision to make a change and stick with it were winners in my eyes.
The smallest of victories as being able to drive again, being able to carry a grandchild, or attend a son’s wedding? It meant the world to them.
Most of all, it means a lot to me.
Fibromyalgia is the 2nd major “rheumatic” disorder. Its prevalence is about 2 to 8% of the population. It has a woman and man ratio of 2:1. It resembles some chronic pain diseases. Fibromyalgia may affect individuals of any age, including children. Its prevalence is the same in different regions, cultures, and ethnic groups.
Fibromyalgia patients complain about chronic pain in their entire body. Fibromyalgia patients have a history of irritable bowel syndrome, dysmenorrhea, headaches, fatigue, and some gastrointestinal disorders including interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, etc.
It is a lifelong disorder that begins in adult age or young age manifested by pain. It is observed in different areas of the body.
Studies have found that there is about 50 percent of the risk of developing fibromyalgia due to genetic reasons and the remaining 50% risks are due to environmental causes. Environmental factors may initiate fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia or similar disorders, like chronic fatigue, can be initiated by different kinds of infections (e.g., Lyme disease, EB virus, viral hepatitis, Q fever) and trauma. Psychological stress can initiate fibromyalgia too.
***The most efficient way to approach fibromyalgia is to integrate pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments to engage the affected person to participate actively in this procedure. ***
MANAGEMENT OF FIBROMYALGIA
There are various methods are developed to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Nutritional supplements.
In chronic conditions, non-pharmacologic methods are used to reduce symptoms.
These methods enhance control over the condition. Studies have found that by regular exercise/yoga and following nutritional, behavioral, and physiological interventions, we can reduce the symptoms such as fatigue.
Some pharmacological therapies that address pain, depression, and sleep can manage the symptoms significantly. However, fibromyalgia patients are also advised to avoid short-acting drugs because it may lead to drug dependency.
5 STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED TO MANAGE FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS
- Self-initiated activities: It includes management strategies. i.e distraction, prayer, planning, and exercising.
- Professional treatments: It includes acupuncture, physiotherapy, group or psychotherapy, and ultrasound therapy.
- Escape behaviors: Avoiding pain medication and alcohol.
- Resignation: Reflecting hopelessness and lack of control.
- Passivity: It includes ignoring pain, self-care methods and comparing current circumstances to others.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR FIBROMYALGIA
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that fibromyalgia affects approximately 2 percent of the adult population in the USA.
There is no complete cure for fibromyalgia: but we can reduce and manage the symptoms by natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and medication.
For patients with fibromyalgia, it is difficult to exercise regularly. But such a condition can be managed by gradual and persistent exercise.
By building strong muscles, pain and discomfort can be reduced. Before starting any type of exercise, the patient should consult the doctor or physical therapist.
Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and cycling are very beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia. These help improve the health and the overall well-being of the body. It may also result in reduced pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Neurological studies have found that a program of a 15-week exercise can lead to better brain functioning in people that are affected by fibromyalgia.
PHYSIOBALL EXERCISES FOR PAIN RELIEF THROUGH SELF STRETCHING
Although there are many exercises one can search for online, I will share a simplified routine that has worked great with my fibromyalgia patients. Why do I like to use a physioball? I want to keep it simple and easy to get started with. Especially so with fibromyalgia patients.
The ball provides good support to the heavy lower extremities and supports the back when laying down on the back (supine position).
A SIMPLE TIP: When lying down flat on the back, always keep knees bent, or place pillows for support under the knees. This takes the stress of the lower back. It is important to maintain the natural curve of the low back (lumbar lordosis).
More of this type of exercise is discussed in the book. With the chronic muscle pains from Fibromyalgia, it is important to maintain flexibility, decrease muscle tone for better tolerance to functional activities.