Coping with Chronic Fibromyalgia Pain

Doctor examining patient in office
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Day to day life with fibromyalgia pain can certainly be a challenge. Not only do you have to live with chronic pain every day, but you often have to deal with other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, such as sleep disturbances and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Like other chronic pain conditions, there are ways to cope with daily pain, including taking your medications as directed, keeping a pain journal and learning relaxation strategies. However, there are a few other things you can do that are specific to coping with chronic fibromyalgia pain.

Develop Healthy Sleep Patterns

People with fibromyalgia often have trouble sleeping. Despite the fatigue associated with chronic fibromyalgia pain, you may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Some doctors prescribe sleep aids to their fibromyalgia patients. However, if you are uncomfortable taking sleeping pills, there are a few other things you can try:

  • Create patterns for sleep by going to bed and waking up close to the same time every day.
  • Set the mood for sleep by turning down the lights and the volume on the TV a few hours before bedtime.
  • Limit your caffeine and nicotine consumption in the afternoons and evenings.
  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Take a relaxing bath before bedtime.
  • Try some aromatherapy. Some people find the smell of lavender and chamomile relaxing.

Be Mindful of Your Diet

Eating better can help some people with fibromyalgia symptoms. Other related conditions, such as IBS, may be made worse by an unhealthy diet. Additionally, eating more nutritious food can help you avoid the weight problems that sometimes come with a chronic pain condition, which can, in turn, decrease the daily stress on your body.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has several benefits for people with chronic fibromyalgia pain. First, it can help you tolerate more activity, which means that over time your daily routine should get less tiring. Second, it helps you maintain muscle strength and stamina. Finally, exercise allows your body to release chemicals that make you feel good.

If you are thinking of starting an exercise routine, be sure to talk to your doctor. Also, don’t jump in all at once: start with very light activity, gradually increasing the intensity over time. Consider low-impact activities such as walking on a treadmill at a slow speed or Tai Chi. As you build your stamina, you can throw in more challenging activities like swimming or yoga.

When You Need More Help

Sometimes, coping on your own is tough. Talking to someone who understands can help. Online forums and local support groups can be helpful. Visiting a therapist can also be helpful, as depression is fairly common for people with chronic fibromyalgia pain. You may be depressed if you regularly experience some or all of the following:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Strained relationships
  • Difficulty concentrating on work or at school
  • Unusual weight gain or loss

Talk to your doctor if you think you might be depressed as a result of your fibromyalgia pain. Together, you can create a plan to feel better faster.

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Article Sources

  • American College of Rheumatology. Fibromyalgia. 
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Fibromyalgia: Questions and Answers About Fibromyalgia.