It’s a sad reality that many people still consider fibromyalgia an “imaginary” condition. However, as many as four million Americans cope with fibromyalgia symptoms, which include widespread muscle pain and tenderness, fatigue, and occasionally brain fog.
While researchers still don’t understand everything about this condition, their knowledge base is growing. Because of that, we can provide some tips for managing your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Offer TLC to Tender Places
Fibromyalgia affects everyone differently; however, some areas of the body are more likely to experience pain and tenderness than others, such as:
- The neck
- Hip bones
When you have identified your “tender areas,” it’s easier to find natural ways to relieve the chronic pain. For instance, many patients have found massage and heat and cold therapy to be highly effective ways to manage pain.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Consistent pain can make it difficult for those living with fibromyalgia to get enough quality sleep. You may not always be able to make the pain stop, but you can practice sleep hygiene—in other words, create habits that promote good sleep. For example:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
- Avoid electronics just before bed.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Don’t take daytime naps longer than 20 minutes.
- Consume large meals and caffeine earlier in the day.
You can also do your part to create an environment conducive to sleep by investing in blackout curtains, keeping the bedroom temperature lower, and reserving your bed for sleep and intimacy.
In the past, doctors have recommended that patients avoid strenuous activity, including exercise. But since then, researchers have found that exercise offers numerous benefits, such as:
- Improved muscle strength
- Increased range of motion
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Enhanced energy
Naturally, exercising when you’re in pain can be difficult. The best way to handle exercise is to focus on low-impact exercises such as yoga, biking, swimming, and walking.
Focus on Mental Health
We often think about the toll this condition takes on the body. However, stress can also heighten our perception of pain and drain our energy. So, finding ways to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms should always include managing stress. Along with the tips we’ve already addressed, you can try:
- Taking time for hobbies
- Practicing time management
- Seeking out therapy
Sometimes the biggest stressors surrounding fibromyalgia are feeling that others misunderstand your condition. Seeking out people who understand what you’re going through is often the first step in the right direction.