Fibromyalgia is one of those conditions that still confuses the medical profession (not just causes of – but treatment of) so how are you expected to get to grips with it. Hang in there – There are some solutions. Ok there are medications and there are alternate medications but your mindset is key and altering your lifestyle will help unlock the condition.
By mindset I mean how you process/tolerate the pain levels and adapt to living with the condition. Mindfulness and breath control techniques are excellent ways to work through pain and reframe the brains response to pain. You can rewrite your responses and override the anxiety with some practice. Over riding the anxiety in the moment is also diminishing a trigger. Fibro flare ups are very much linked to stress and adrenalin.
It’s not all about sitting meditations and going to your happy place – getting active is essential; it may seem counterintuitive when you have inflammation and pain but working the muscles and joints in gentle ways can remove build-ups of lactic acid and also provide more flexibility (less tension and less inflammation) as well as increase resistance to pain. Pilates and yoga classes will do wonders for you – but even some simple morning and pre-bedtime warm up stretches will help reduce muscle tension.
I had a bike crash many years ago that left me with some neurological damage and long term chronic pain. I used mindfulness like a Jedi mind trick to control the pain and I got active beyond physio to fortify myself. It worked. I also changed my diet to pick less inflaming foods and yes in terms of lifestyle changes – diet is so important.
The vast majority of fibro patients will report worsening symptoms and flare ups after eating certain foods – you know what that junk is – bin it or leave it in the supermarket. If don’t have in the house then there’s no way to slip up. Be ruthless – it is saving your self from yourself. If you are not sure what cause the flares then try keeping a food diary for a few weeks to notice if there is more pain after certain meals. Patterns will become clear.
You can also try a phase out diet to search for improvements after you stop certain foods. Cut out coffee for a week and if you feel better don’t reintroduce it to your diet or at least severely restrict it to the occasional treat. Dandelion and chicory root “coffee” might just hit the spot for you.
Foods worth considering as potential triggers include any of the common food allergens Gluten , shellfish, dairy, peanuts as well as sugar, sugary snacks, proceeded foods, foods and drinks with additives (monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, can act as excitotoxin molecules in many conditions but notably with fibro) and probably last but not least – alcohol.
Foods worth considering to reduce inflammation and slow pain perception include oily fish (omegas just kick ass when it comes to detoxing our muscles, coating our joints and reducing inflammation). Plenty of veggie and nut oil sources omegas out there if you’d prefer. Nuts and seeds are ideal.
Increase your fruit and veg intake to combat the oxidative stress that can trigger/ cause fibro symptoms. Foods high in A, C, and E will repair free radical damage. For many alkaline diets work (less fruit, more veg) – most anti-inflammatory diets are pretty much vegetarian and extra oils (vits A and E). Low vitamin d can deplete our nerve ending resilience so if you are off the oily fish try more mushrooms, yoghurt and more natural sunshine.
Fermented foods and cultured dairy are probiotic foods that boost your overall health but in some cases gut flora imbalances such as candidiasis can be factor inn fibromyalgia flare ups – so add some yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut to the weekly shop. Lean protein is vital for muscles and tissues maintenance – soya and tofu is beneficial and also anti-inflammatory. Energy and proper function Magnesium rich foods or a supplement is a muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory and also nervine.
In everything, stress is the killer so while a detox, clean eating and all the diet changes will improve how your body copes – it is how your head copes that really matters- especially with fibro were stressed brain chemistry gets the wrong neuros firing and pumps the wrong chemistry into the body. The molecules of stress will flare up your symptoms so look to De-stress as part of each day not just at the weekends.
Listen to birdsong, go for a walk, look at a funny movie, look at pictures of friends and family that make you smile, read a good book, have sex, enjoy the garden – sometimes when you get busy with living the conditions that are complicating your life have to take a backseat. And I know you may say it’s not that easy I am in bits – well trust me the joy of life is what conquers that.