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Fibromyalgia: don’t feel lost

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living with fibromyalgiaFibromyalgia has become so misunderstood it has left some patients feeling as though they have nowhere to go for effective treatment.  Many patients end up feeling their doctors do not believe their complaints or think their symptoms are “in their heads.”

The misunderstanding comes from the fact that this is a condition in which the anatomy may not correlate with the symptoms.  Too often doctors and patients look to X-ray, MRI and other imaging techniques searching for disruption with a patient’s anatomy.  When no such disruption is found, the assumption is that there is no problem.

But there is a problem: pain. 

It is simply a message sent by our nerves that is interpreted by our brain as a painful stimulus.  It is supposed to indicate tissue injury, but in the case of fibromyalgia our brain interprets pain messages when no tissue injury is present.

So what do we do in this circumstance?  How can these patients get the help they need to manage their pain and improve their function?  Below are several tips that should help.

  • Take ownership: You, the patient, are your biggest asset in managing pain. Too many patients with fibromyalgia look for that certain doctor or pill that will take away their pain.  Some medications can help, but understand that your own physical, emotional and social state will have a larger affect on this condition than any doctor or pill.
  • Live healthy: Eating and drinking healthy helps your immune system manage pain and gives you more energy.
  • Consider physical therapy: Exercise is beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia, but pain makes it hard.  A physical therapist can show you a safe and effective way to start moving gradually, moving better and reducing your pain.
  • Do what you love: Engaging in activities that we like creates positive chemical reactions in our body and take our brain away from our pain (remember that part of this condition is emotional).

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition, but there is hope. You just have to look in the right places.

 

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