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|Dealing with a fibromyalgia flare up|
|Written by BHartford|
|27 April 2012|
Coping With a Fibromyalgia Flare
When fibromyalgia symptoms peak, try these techniques for turning down the pain
Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD
Things are going pretty well, considering you have fibromyalgia. Then out of the blue it suddenly hits — the dreaded flare. And you wonder, what could have caused this to happen?
Maybe it was the extra gardening you did on the day you were feeling so energetic. Maybe it was that awful visit from the difficult relative that had you so totally on edge. Maybe it was the caffeine in something you drank or ate. Or maybe it happened for no reason at all. When a flare hits, often all you know is that the pain dial's turned up to ten: Suddenly fibromyalgia is ruling your world.
Whatever the underlying cause, when a fibromyalgia flare occurs, it's best to be prepared. While the following coping techniques may not make the pain go away 100 percent, they might just make managing it a bit easier.
When a flare is upon you, experts say you need to:
Give yourself a break. As Murphy's Law predicts, flares often strike at the worst possible times. But no matter what you have going on or how important it is, if you try to push through the pain, you'll pay for it. Try to cut yourself some slack instead; ask for help from others, extend deadlines if possible, and take care of your flare first. Do all you can to set your stress level to "low" when your fibromyalgia kicks up.
Just say no. When a flare hits, protecting your personal boundaries becomes even more critical. No, you can't take on an extra project at work. No, you can't make 120 cookies for the bake sale. No, you can't babysit the neighbor's kids. A firm but polite refusal, minus any explanations or excuses, puts you in control of your schedule and gives you room to say "yes" to what your body needs.
Get your ZZZ's. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suspect that sleep, or the lack of it, plays a key role in fibromyalgia symptoms. This makes adequate rest especially important when your fibromyalgia symptoms increase. Getting eight hours or more of rest has to be a top priority. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day to help reset your body's sleep cycle. Consider adding a short nap (even ten minutes can make a big difference) to your day, if possible. One caveat: Don't nap so much during the day that you're unable to sleep at night.
Play mind games. Biofeedback, deep breathing, meditation, self-hypnosis, or even just distracting yourself with a good book or some soothing music can help take your mind off the pain and make coping with a flare more manageable, say experts at the National Fibromyalgia Association.
Pace yourself. Mayo Clinic researchers have found that people with fibromyalgia who keep going, but at a slower pace, weather a flare better than those who put a halt to activity altogether. You need to know your limits and listen to your body. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Same goes for exercise. Gentle stretching, a leisurely walk, or some easy yoga moves can keep you moving enough to help reduce the pain.
Medicate proactively. Following your medication schedule as prescribed can help you get pain under control and keep it there. During a flare, it's better to take your pain medication like clockwork — even if you feel as if the last dose is still working — rather than waiting for pain to return full force before taking the next dose. At the same time, resist the temptation to double up on meds or play pharmacist: Both over-the-counter and prescription pain medications taken at levels just slightly above the recommended dose can cause serious side effects, including liver or kidney failure. And some medications (including herbal remedies) can be dangerous when combined. If your meds aren't cutting it, call your doctor and ask for advice or some additional treatment options.
Consider your alternatives. When it comes to managing a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, Western medicine may not be the only path to take, say the experts at the National Fibromyalgia Association. Acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, biofeedback, and other therapies sometimes help bring pain relief to those who aren't finding it through conventional means. Check out providers carefully, ask for recommendations, make sure they're familiar with the special needs of those with fibromyalgia, and keep your primary-care doctor in the loop about what alternative approaches you're considering.
Drink water. Critical to all of your body's cellular functions, water is nature's perfect health drink. Drinking eight to ten glasses per day will keep your body well hydrated and aid your kidneys and liver in their important tasks of ridding your body of toxins. Being properly hydrated also helps alleviate fatigue and aids your body in properly processing medications. Just be sure to avoid alcohol, soda pop, caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, and artificially sweetened beverages: They won't hydrate your body properly and may increase the intensity of a flare.
Talk about it. Coping with a chronic illness can be isolating, leading to depression, anxiety, and other problems. Reach out to others for support and encouragement when pain levels rise. Sometimes just talking about how you're feeling with people who understand and care can help take the intensity out of a fibromyalgia flare.
Last Updated: 08/25/2008
Retrieved April 27, 2012 from the World Wide Weg: http://www.everydayhealth.com/fibromyalgia/coping-physically/coping-with-a-falre.aspx.
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