Fibromyalgia is a painful and complicated disorder.
It causes widespread body pains, fatigue and depression. It hurts not only yourself but everyone around you—your family, your spouse, your coworkers, etc.
To top it all off: there is no cure. Which means you must learn to live with fibromyalgia pain and ease its symptoms every day.
How to control fibromyalgia pain
Learning how to deal with fibromyalgia effectively is the key to your happiness. It can make your life 10 times easier and make every part of your day more enjoyable.
By following these 6 tips, you will have the best chance at beating fibromyalgia pain and fatigue:
1. Exercise, even if it hurts
Exercising daily is recommended for almost everyone, even if it’s a light jog around your neighbourhood. For fibromyalgia patients, this is especially true.
Despite the pain and stiffness you may be experiencing, exercising can improve sleep, ease pain, boost mood, reduce fatigue, strengthen your heart and improve circulation. It may seem counter-intuitive that exercise can improve pain when all you feel is pain during the work out, but studies have shown this to be the case.
A 2017 study on yoga and fibromyalgia pains suggested that yoga could serve as a bridge to higher intensity forms of exercises like aerobics or strength training.
A 2017 review analyzing previous studies on fibromyalgia pains and found that aerobic exercise improved the quality of life, stiffness and pain, and muscle function of fibromyalgia patients.
For fibromyalgia patient, the following low-intensity exercises are great to get started:
- Water aerobics
- Strength training
Keep in mind to avoid over-straining yourself. If your pain is too much to bear, tone it down a notch and try again another day. Know your limit and consult a healthcare professional before starting an exercise program.
2. Create a healthy diet
If you are battling fibromyalgia, your diet should consist of foods that controls inflammation, energizes you, lowers your weight, and improves overall health. Try to create a diet that consists between 90-95% of the following foods:
- Whole grains
- Dairy products
- Lean meats
In addition to filling your diet with nutrient-rich foods, you should also try your best to eliminate the following foods that increase inflammation and aggravates sensitivities for people with fibromyalgia. These foods include:
- Refined carbohydrates (i.e. cookies, many breads, pastries)
- Food additives like MSG and nitrates (the preservative in hot dogs and bacon)
- Processed foods
- Aspartame (NutraSweet)
3. Develop a consistent sleep pattern
When you’re battling fibromyalgia, your whole life consists of pain, stress and anxiety. You may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night due to pain, or having troubles falling asleep in the first place. All of this can affect your quality of sleep, which, in turn, can cause you to feel fatigued throughout the entire day.
Successful sleep management, therefore, is one the most important parts of fighting fibromyalgia.
We recommend patients take a sleep test to figure out how they can improve their sleep. Maybe you need to change your sleep routine, or maybe your doctor will recommend sleep medication. Here are some suggestions
Here are some general suggestions for getting a better night’s sleep:
- Reduce sounds and extreme temperatures
- Control the lighting to your preference (i.e. a night light or blackout shades)
- Use comfortable beddings and garments
- Practice rituals to help you relax before bedtime (i,e. a soothing bath or a light snack)
- Sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
- Nap for 10-20 minutes maximum and do it before 3 pm
- Avoid cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid fatty, spicy foods that can upset your stomach before sleep
- Meditate or write in a journal during the day to cleanse your mind of all your worries
- Don’t force yourself to sleep, go to bed only when you feel exhausted
- Reserve your bed for sleep and sex only
4. Don’t ignore your sex life
When suffering with fibromyalgia, women tend to experience a heightened sense of pain during menstrual cycles and intercourse. Due to pain and stiffness in joints and muscles, they sometimes reduce or avoid sex completely.
In addition to physical challenges, living with fibromyalgia affects many people mentally, in ways that can make having a consistent sex life challenging.
- Stress and anxiety
- Mental exhaustion and fatigue
- Negative outlook on life
- Feeling unattractive or uncomfortable
If you find yourself constantly avoiding sex for any of these or other reasons, visit your doctor for help.
A healthy sex life is as important as your emotional, physical, and mental health. There are many ways to manage pain and discomfort (at least temporarily) and boost your libido and self-esteem. Making the effort to maintain your sexual health can be a game-changer towards fighting fibromyalgia.
5. Manage or reduce stress
While battling constant pain, memory loss and loss of cognitive abilities, it can be extremely frustrating to perform simple tasks. As a result, people with fibromyalgia often experience stress and feelings of anxiety, depression, and frustration.
Since stress is known to makes symptoms of fibromyalgia even worse, a vicious cycle of enhanced pain and stress is often created.
Here are some ways to manage pain-related stress:
- Pace yourself – Go about your daily activities slowly but consistently. Don’t overwork and exacerbate the pain whenever you feel slightly better. Always pace yourself throughout the day.
- Practice relaxation techniques – Try relaxation exercises like deep breathing, meditation, biofeedback and aromatherapy. Keep track of which one works best for you.
- Set boundaries at home and work – Speak to your supervisor or boss about modifying your schedule, shifting your work tasks to less strenuous tasks or reducing your workload. At home, talk about which tasks you feel comfortable doing and which tasks you need assistance on. Having open communications will ensure everyone is on the same page with you at all times.
- Try behavioral cognitive therapy – This type of psychotherapy studies our emotions and feelings in relations to our life, and can help manage or prevent emotional distress.
6. Try herbs and supplements
As we eluded to earlier, one of the keys to fighting fibromyalgia is managing pain, anxiety and stress. We’ve written extensively on the topic of natural pain supplements, and strongly believe that natural remedies are superior to pharmaceutical medicine. Some of our favorite natural pain supplements include:
- Valerian Root
- Cat’s Claw
- White willow bark
Some days, taking natural pain supplements seems to work wonders—eliminating pain and allow us to function at our optimal levels. Other times, pain just doesn’t seem to go away. During these dark times, we need to stay positive and manage our anxiety and stress levels, to not fall into a vicious cycle of negativity. Here are some of our favorite natural herbs and supplements for anxiety and stress management:
- Lemon Balm
- Valerian Root
- Bacopa Monnieri
Always consult with a certified health professional before trying any supplements, herbs, or natural therapies.
Can I Take Kratom to Relieve Pain?
We get this question all the time from our customers, and we always say the same thing: the science is currently lacking for Kratom so we cannot advise on this topic.
Although some studies have been conducted on Kratom as it relates to pain, the indication is not conclusive. CBD and cannabis has been around in the Western world for a far longer period of time, so naturally the studies conducted are more complete. With Kratom, the plant is still emerging in North America (Canada and the U.S.) so more studies will be required.
Here are some popular studies that shows the potential for Kratom for pain relief: