Monday, 10 February 2014

Self Help and Daily Living

Many people with fibromyalgia have learnt to manage their condition so that they can continue to live their lives enjoyably despite their symptoms. The following sections look at some of the things that might help.

Exercise and fibromyalgia

If you have fibromyalgia your muscles will often feel stiff and tense, making them more prone to sprains and strains. It’s important to reduce this tension by stretching your muscles regularly. 
Aerobic exercise improves fitness and reduces pain and fatigue in people with fibromyalgia. It should also improve your sleep and general well-being. Aerobic simply means increasing the circulation of oxygen through your blood, so any exercise that gets you breathing heavily and your heart beating faster is aerobic. Swimming is particularly recommended for people with fibromyalgia, but walking or cycling are also helpful.
Build up your exercise at a rate you can cope with, pace yourself and be patient. You may find that your pain and tiredness become worse at first as you start to exercise muscles that haven’t been used for a while. Try to do the same amount of exercise each day so that you build up your muscle strength and stamina levels. Increasing your exercise little by little will also improve your fitness and flexibility. Yoga has been shown to help some people with fibromyalgia.
Read more about exercise and arthritis.

Diet and fibromyalgia

No particular diet has been proven to help fibromyalgia, but we recommend keeping to a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Read more about diet and arthritis.

Complementary therapies and fibromyalgia

Treatments like massageacupuncture and manipulation by a chiropractor or osteopath may temporarily ease your pain and discomfort. Some trials have shown that capsaicin gel (only available on prescription) and homeopathy may be helpful. However, the evidence isn’t strong enough for these treatments to be recommended.

Sleep and fibromyalgia

Poor sleep is a key symptom of fibromyalgia, so getting enough proper sleep is an important part of the treatment. Not only will it help with tiredness and fatigue but you may also find it helps with your pain. To make sure you get a better night’s sleep:
  • avoid alcohol, tea or coffee late at night
  • develop a sleep routine, settling down and getting up at the same time each day
  • avoid watching TV in your bedroom
  • keep a notepad by your bed so that if you think of something you need to do the next day you can write it down and then put it out of your mind
  • relax and try gentle exercise as this can reduce muscle tension
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be helpful for some people who have severely disrupted sleep.

Other tips

Fibromyalgia varies from person to person. We suggest you try some of the following tips to find out what works for you:
  • Learn about fibromyalgia. Understanding it can help to ease your fear and anxiety.
  • Find out if there’s a support group in your area, or think about joining an online fibromyalgia forum or expert patient programme. Discussing your experiences with others who have fibromyalgia may help.
  • Encourage your family and friends to find out more and discuss your condition with you. It’s especially important that they understand you may be in severe pain even if you look well.
  • Learn to take time out for yourself to relax your mind and your muscles.
  • Pace yourself. It’s tempting to do a lot on one day, but doing too much can make your symptoms worse the next day. Spread things out over a longer period and make sure you do things you enjoy as well as things you have to do.
  • Try the medication your doctor has to offer and discuss which ones are helpful.
  • Find effective ways of communicating feelings such as anxiety or anger. Counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to break the cycle of anxiety, depression and pain and has helped many people keep their pain under control – your GP will be able to refer you.
  • Unhappiness at home or work can make pain feel worse. Addressing the causes of this unhappiness could help. Ask for help from people at your work, such as a friend, colleague or manager. You can also seek advice from experts such as occupational therapists, a Jobcentre Plus office and the Citizens Advice Bureau. They can work with you and your employer to find the best solution for everyone.

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