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How to Obtain Relief for Fibromyalgia – Part 4: Self-Care Suggestions

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Fibro Patient Education & Support is a Chicago organization devoted to spreading awareness of fibromyalgia and providing education through cable television.  In this four-part series, Founder Necie Edwards offers tips on how to feel better with fibromyalgia. 
Dealing with chronic pain can drag you down physically and emotionally; it can make your quality of life much less than it should be. 
There are many self-care things we can do to help ourselves, including these suggestions. 

  1. Join a support group. Many hospitals, HMOs, and community centers offer support groups for those who deal with chronic pain. You can hear from others in situations similar to yours and can learn tips for dealing with pain you may not know about. You can also share your feelings about your pain with those who understand exactly what you have been going through and find comfort in the support you receive and also give. Check out Fibromyalgia and Connections for more information about the value of support groups.

  2. Take a long bath. The warm water of a sudsy bath can ease aches and pains and can help you function better in your daily life. Use a loofah sponge to massage your body and take your time to really let the heat of the water go deep into your muscles and joints. Add a few drops of calming essential oils, such as lavender essential oil, which add to the relaxation and sense of peace.

  3. Read a good book. Take the time to rest and read about something light and refreshing. It can allow your mind to go to other places instead of focusing on your chronic pain. Choose books that you find interesting to take your mind off your discomfort. Books can be a best friend to those suffering from chronic pain syndromes.

  4. Decrease stress in your life. Anytime you are dealing with stress, this can increase your perception of chronic pain. Your best way of doing this is to remove things from your life that cause you stress to improve your pain tolerance and your overall health and immune system functioning. If you can’t actually get rid of the stressor, use some of the other stress-relieving techniques described, like meditation, Tai Chi, and relaxation. Don’t let Emergency Stress sabotage your good efforts. 

  5. Set a regular sleep pattern. Go to sleep at the same time every night and awaken at the same time every morning. Keep your sleeping environment as soothing as possible so you sleep well. When you are sleeping, you can allow your body to regenerate itself so you have less pain when you wake up in the morning. If needed, use a white noise machine that can get rid of extraneous noises in your environment. You may find Cort Johnson’s Good Sleep Practices for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia helpful. 

  6. Quit smoking. Smoking affects your circulation and can wreak havoc on those who have chronic pain. When your circulation is good, your joints and muscles can heal better and you can live better without chronic pain. If you are a heavy smoker, you may need to seek a doctor’s advice about ways to gradually cut down and eventually break the habit.

  7. Keep a pain log. Buy a diary and keep track of triggers and other things that precipitate pain. You can share your findings with your doctor so as to figure out a plan for handling those things that cause the pain to become worse. Reflect on your pain log to see if you can determine which things cause your pain to become worse and avoid those things in your life.

  8. Use an ice pack. Ice to the affected areas of pain can reduce inflammation and can relieve pain. Use an ice pack for thirty minutes at a time for pain relief and then let the body part rest for thirty minutes before putting ice on again. Ice is especially good for pain relief in those situations where inflammation is behind the source of the pain.

  9. Use a heating pad. If any of your pain is from muscle spasm, the application of heat can relieve the spasm and can warm aching joints. Don’t put the heat on too high because it can burn your skin. Alternatively, you can put a towel or cloth between the heating pad and the skin overlying the area of pain. Heat can be applied for thirty minutes at a time before cooling the area to room temperature or using ice as a way of alternating with pain relief through heat.

  10. Practice silent counting. When the pain is severe, count your breaths from one to ten or backwards from ten. Let your muscles loosen as you count until your pain is back to tolerable levels. This is one of several mental techniques that will put you in charge of your pain instead of the other way around.

  11. Maintain good posture. You can alleviate some of your pain by maintaining good posture. Good posture keeps your muscles and joints in proper alignment so that you feel less chronic pain. If you instead curve your back into a C-shape, it puts extra pressure on your spine and sets up a situation where you will feel spinal pain.

  12. Use a cane or walker. This can relieve chronic pain, especially if you are suffering from some type of arthritis. They can lessen the load on your joints and can help you get around more safely. Practice with a physical therapist so you can safely use these devices around the house or as you go about your day. This can be an especially difficult tip for some of us.  Read Melissa Swanson’s important message about Accepting Assistance.

  13. Listen to music. Music is the greatest soother of all aches and pains. Put on something that puts your mind onto some other topic besides pain. Put together a playlist that incorporates some of your favorites and sit back to listen to it when you have pain. Music is not just good for the soul. It also helps you become distracted from your pain.

Recognize your emotions. Chronic pain isn’t all about nerve fibers and brain signals. Your emotions play a big role in how you deal with chronic pain. When you can get a hold of your emotions, you can better understand how they play a role in your perception of pain. Recognize when things like anger or anxiety result in an increase in the perception of pain and do what you can to get a hold of these emotions. Read Sue Ingebretson’s 4 Simple Ways to Shift into Positivity for additional help with this suggestion.

Have you found these suggestions helpful?  What works for you?  Share your ideas with us!

Fibro Patient Education and Support is the only organization of its kind in the Chicago metro area devoted exclusively to spreading awareness of Fibromyalgia and providing education via cable television through their flagship program, Fibromyalgia Talks
Fibro Patient Education and Support is focused on providing programs that educate patients and caregivers about Fibromyalgia, including causes, symptoms, treatments, and how it interacts with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, migraine, insomnia, multiple chemical sensitivity and Gulf War Syndrome.  

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