Fibromyalgia Flare-Ups and How to Prevent Them
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterized by signs of unrestrained musculoskeletal pain that are often accompanied by fatigue, muscle pain, mood changes and memory problems. When fibromyalgia flares up, painful sensations get amplified because of the way your brain processes pain signals. As in many chronic conditions, its symptoms may vary in intensity, and they can come and go.
People with fibromyalgia may experience a certain symptom on a daily basis. When a symptom comes more often for a period of time and gets worse, it is called a flare. A flare is the aggravating or worsening of symptoms that already exist. Symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:
- Widespread muscle pain
- Fatigue that makes completing daily activities difficult
- Stiffness in the morning or following a long period of inactivity
- Emotional problems such as sudden mood change, anxiety, or depression
- Cognitive difficulties are commonly known as "fibro fog" which include memory and concentration problems
- Sleep difficulties such as frequent waking in the middle of sleep and taking a long time to fall asleep
If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, you may be suffering from fibromyalgia. There are tips on avoiding fibromyalgia flare-ups. People with fibromyalgia do not experience flares the same way. The intensity of their symptoms may also vary. A person’s main symptom during a flare can also shift over time. A person who experiences flare-ups might have an aggravating pain in their back or hips. But in the past, that same person might have experienced fatigue or headaches as the main symptoms.
One of the best tips on avoiding fibromyalgia flare-ups is to know the cause in the first place. Just like the symptoms, the triggers for fibromyalgia can also vary by person. Triggers may include:
- Poor sleep
- Traveling fatigue
- Schedule changes
- Hormonal changes
- Changes in medication
- Stress (Physical or psychological)
- Temperature or weather changes
Stress or anything that interrupts the body’s regular routine can trigger a flare-up. Some flares are inevitable, and some triggers may be beyond your control.
Approved medications for fibromyalgia take weeks for them to start working, and pain medications like opioids don’t really work for many people. Even with your best efforts, your fibromyalgia can still flare. You may try to reach for a pill, but there is no treatment or medication for fibromyalgia that’s definitive. You might be better off trying to prevent those flares than you are treating them.
While there’s no effective medication, there are tips for avoiding fibromyalgia flare-ups. Take a look at your habits that might trigger your symptoms. Most people with fibromyalgia tend to not care about their activities and habits when they’re feeling well, but being mindful of your activities can actually help you avoid flares.
Since fibromyalgia cannot be treated, there are many tips on avoiding fibromyalgia flare-ups. Lifestyle changes can lessen the severity and occurrence of your symptoms. Here are some things you can do to prevent the worsening of your symptoms:
1. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep is a symptom, as well as a cause of fibromyalgia flare-ups. Poor sleep leads to more pain, thus, making it harder for you to sleep. This can become a cycle. You can break this cycle by hitting the bed early and at the same time every night. Prepare yourself to sleep by trying to keep yourself relaxed an hour before bedtime. Shut off your TV as well as other electronic devices. Taking a warm bath, reading, or meditating are some ways to relax and get ready for a deeper sleep. You may visit your doctor if you have problems falling asleep. A sleep aid may be prescribed for you.
2. Eat a balanced diet
Most people with fibromyalgia have discovered that some foods worsen their symptoms. Gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome accompany this syndrome at times. By eating a balanced diet, you can lessen flare-ups. It is advisable to minimize fried foods, caffeine, sugary foods, and foods high in sodium. By avoiding these foods, you actually reduce the risk of fibro flares. Fill your diet with more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Based on studies, fibromyalgia is caused by muscle and mitochondrial tissue damage due to free radicals. Antioxidants found in fruits and veggies can extinguish these free radicals and even restore the damage they’ve caused. Additionally, it’s good to eat plenty of lean proteins. Since fibromyalgia is caused by damaged muscle tissues, protein can aid in building those tissues back.
3. Get regular exercise
You may be unwilling to add exercise to your schedule because you’re already tired by the day’s end. You may also fear to experience flare-ups if you exercise, but doing a mind-body exercise can be a great mood lifter as well as pain reliever. Try doing some deep-breathing exercises, stretching, and relaxation like yoga. Doing a regular, moderate exercise can help keep your muscles and joints in good condition. Rigorous exercises can only worsen your symptoms worse. So, why not go for some walking. This is also a great way to stay active and healthy without exhausting yourself.
4. Reduce emotional and mental stress
Stress can worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia. You can prevent flare-ups by avoiding the things and situations that trigger you to become stressed. Get rid of sources of stress like an unhealthy relationship or super tense work environment. Some stressors may be hard to avoid. So, learn some stress coping techniques to minimize the effects of stress on you. Great stress-busters may include meditation, acupuncture, and deep breathing techniques. Some people resort to taking alcohol or drugs just to manage the stress. However, these are unhealthy and damaging. This can only worsen symptoms, not to mention increasing your risk for health complications as a result of frequent alcohol or drug use.
5. Monitor your symptoms
Keep a diary or a log of your symptoms. This can help you identify the triggers that cause flare-ups. List down what you ate and your activities to get insight into what things are aggravating your symptoms. Your log can also be very useful for your doctor in recommending treatment for your condition. One of the many reasons why fibromyalgia is very difficult to apprehend and cope with is that it affects almost every part of your body in one way or another. Symptoms and triggers are correlated. Drugs that aid in treating one symptom can end up worsening another symptom. Still, there’s hope for you. Since fibromyalgia disrupts your whole body, you also have to manage and improve your well-being and your overall health.
Additionally, maintain a healthy diet and do regular exercise. This is the best way you can lessen your symptoms, as well as fend off those flares. Follow the tips on avoiding fibromyalgia flare-ups mentioned above, and remember that every case of fibromyalgia is different. You may also discover more helpful methods that work better in reducing your symptoms and preventing flare-ups. A variety of medications can help control symptoms. So, make sure to pay a visit to your doctor about your treatment options. Your doctor can also give you lifestyle recommendations that will suit your specific needs.