Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, discomfort and stiffness. Additional symptoms include memory problems, difficulty sleeping and chronic fatigue.
Many people wonder how to treat fibromyalgia and minimize painful symptoms. View our guide to fibromyalgia for more on how you can treat this disorder and improve your symptoms.
What Factors Contribute to a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis?
Fibromyalgia symptoms often develop after an initial event, such as surgery, physical injury, significant stress or an infection. In some cases, symptoms may slowly develop and worsen over time, even without a specific triggering event. Some symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include:
- Chronic pain: One of the most common characteristics of fibromyalgia is chronic and widespread discomfort. Many patients have a constant dull pain throughout the body that lasts longer than three months without improvement. In most cases, fibromyalgia pain occurs on both sides of the body and throughout the legs and arms. Widespread stiffness is also a common symptom.
- Cognitive impairments: Difficulty thinking is another symptom and is often referred to as fibromyalgia fog or brain fog. This general term is a helpful way to describe cognitive-related problems that occur with fibromyalgia.
- Fatigue: Fatigue also commonly occurs in those with this disorder, even if they get adequate or excess sleep. Because fibromyalgia symptoms often disrupt sleep, many people may find it difficult to rest. In some cases, patients may also have trouble sleeping from sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
7 Tips for Coping With Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibromyalgia symptoms can negatively impact everyday life and make performing essential tasks difficult. Approximately four million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. While the exact cause of this medical disorder is unknown, many treatments can ease the pain it causes. Some of the most effective tips to improve fibromyalgia pain include:
1. Exercise Regularly
One way to manage fibromyalgia pain is to exercise frequently. While staying active is recommended for everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle, it can be an extremely beneficial way to treat fibromyalgia naturally, especially for those who experience restless leg syndrome or stiffness in the morning or after walking. Regular exercise can ease pain, boost your mood, improve circulation and reduce fatigue.
Finding an exercise right for you can help you maintain a proper routine. Some people with fibromyalgia enjoy cycling, walking, swimming and yoga. Light strength training and water aerobics are also ideal exercises for those with this pain disorder. You can take small steps to slowly acclimate yourself to exercise without straining your body.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet can also help treat fibromyalgia. Some people with this pain disorder may experience relief of symptoms from eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, which can help with losing weight and energizing the body.
In addition to adding healthy foods, eliminating foods that may worsen fibromyalgia symptoms is helpful. Some foods you may want to limit in your diet include nitrates, monosodium glutamate, aspartame and sugar. Because fibromyalgia symptoms result from inflammation and swelling, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can help you experience relief.
3. Following a Sleep Schedule
Although many people may not think of it, sleep is an excellent fibromyalgia treatment. While pain and stress from this disorder can make it difficult to sleep, rest is necessary to ward off fatigue, another common symptom of fibromyalgia. You can start by ensuring you practice good resting habits, like setting a sleep schedule, avoiding excess cellphone use in bed and more.
Research has found a high occurrence of sleep problems for those with fibromyalgia, and that rest plays an essential role in the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. For people with this disorder, poor sleep may predict subsequent pain and be related to depression. In some cases, a physician may recommend medication to promote better sleep to help patients experience relief from some symptoms.
4. Minimize Stress
Stress plays a large role in fibromyalgia and the symptoms you experience. While stress may not be the root cause of this disorder, it can directly influence the severity of symptoms because stress, anxiety and depression can affect how your brain perceives pain.
In its simplest terms, stress weakens your body, making you more vulnerable to various symptoms, like pain and discomfort. Finding a way to manage and minimize stress, such as journaling or cognitive behavioral therapy, can help treat fibromyalgia symptoms.
5. Consider Medication
If lifestyle changes do not help improve your fibromyalgia symptoms, you may want to consider medication to alleviate pain. Many physicians suggest over-the-counter pain relievers, including ibuprofen or aspirin, which can help minimize muscle aches, reduce inflammation and improve sleep quality.
While some patients may experience relief from over-the-counter medications, others may need a stronger drug. In some cases, a physician may suggest prescription medicine for reducing pain or managing other fibromyalgia symptoms.
6. Try Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is designed to strengthen weakened muscles, improve your range of motion and manage fibromyalgia symptoms. A physical therapist can create a customized routine to treat specific fibromyalgia symptoms. In addition to useful exercises, physical therapy can also teach people various self-care techniques to minimize pain on their own.
Physical therapy is one of the most effective natural cures for fibromyalgia, as it helps to greatly minimize and manage symptoms. Physical therapists also implement various treatments, including hydrotherapy, deep tissue massage, ice compressions and heat packs, in addition to physical exercises.
7. Consider Upper Cervical Care
While physical therapy, medication and other lifestyle changes can improve fibromyalgia symptoms, some patients may require additional treatment. While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, many believe it stems from trauma to the upper cervical region of the spine. Spinal trauma can compress the brainstem, which may lead to increased neurotransmitters called Substance P.
Substance P works as a pain messenger, which can explain why patients with fibromyalgia frequently experience discomfort. Fortunately, upper cervical care can be an effective treatment to manage and improve many fibromyalgia symptoms. Upper cervical care can correct cervical spine misalignments, and the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) technique can address spinal trauma.
Contact Upper Cervical Chiropractic of NY for Fibromyalgia Support
At Upper Cervical Chiropractic of New York, PC, Dr. George Gertner and his team of experts specialize in the NUCCA technique, a specialized chiropractic method that can correct misalignment of the spine. Our team is dedicated to restoring the health of all patients and providing superior patient care. We strive to offer the latest, most innovative and safest spinal correction procedures currently available.
Get started with a NUCCA procedure and contact us online today or call (914) 686-6200.