BLOG 322 FIBROMYALGIA
Living in constant pain, is no way to live at all. When getting out of bed seems like an unbearable task, one is affected both physically and mentally by such a dilemma. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition that is somewhat new to the medical field. I have seen an increase in clients coming to me being diagnosed with this and the commercials on T.V. are becoming more and more frequent. So let’s take a better look at what exactly fibromyalgia does to one’s body.
What is fibromyalgia?? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243) . Pain is the number one complaint associated with this condition: “The pain can be a deep, sharp, dull, throbbing, or aching, and it is pain that’s felt in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the joints” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms). However the list of symptoms when one goes to the doctor seeking answers for their situation is quite long and may include, “anxiety, concentration and memory problems – known as ‘fibro fog’, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, painful menstrual cramps, numbness, and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs, tender points, and urinary symptoms, such as pain and frequency” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms).
Side note: fibromyalgia is more common in females than males. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243).
Another characteristic of this condition is having trigger or tender points. Normally these are areas around the joints or muscles, not the exact joint or muscle itself. They’re tender even to the touch. And then there is the constant feeling of being fatigued. Getting out of bed is extremely difficult and one can be worn out after a quick trip to the grocery store. Not surprising, “Depression is a key symptom for many people with fibromyalgia. Up to half of all people with fibromyalgia also have depression or an anxiety disorder when they are diagnosed” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms?page=3). These feelings only worsen from the pain and discomfort one endures each day. It is easy to become less active and isolated when daily living activities just become too much to handle.
I’m sure you have seen and heard the ads for all the medications one can take for fibromyalgia. But guess what folks?? Exercise can help alleviate the symptoms. At first scientists and doctors said rest was the best cure, “But recent scientific studies have shown that, for most patients, range of motion, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning exercises are safe and necessary” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise). Exercise releases endorphins – the good feeling chemicals and helps balance out serotonin levels. Exercise can help tackle some of the feelings of depression and anxiety. Yes, there are days when my fibromyalgia clients call and say they just aren’t able to make it, but I say let’s go walk and talk because movement is key. Don’t let the day be a downward spiral. I tell them to just get here and we will do the best we can with what the body can do today. Adding to this, “Exercise acts as nature’s tranquilizer by helping to boost serotonin in the brain. Studies have also shown that exercise triggers the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that are known to boost alertness. For those who feel ‘stressed out’ frequently, exercise can help to desensitize your body to stress” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise?page=2).
And then the list of exercise benefits gets even better and go on to include: “Burning calories and making weight control easier, giving range-of-motion to painful muscles and joint, improving a person’s outlook on life, improving quality of sleep, improving one’s sense of well-being, increasing aerobic capacity, improving cardiovascular health, increasing energy, placing the responsibility of healing in the hands of the patient, reducing anxiety levels and depression, relieving stress associated with a chronic disease, stimulating growth hormone secretion, stimulating the secretion of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’, strengthening bones, strengthening muscles, and relieving pain” (http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-exercise?page=2).
Fibromyalgia is certainly a serious condition that can send one on a downward spiral of feeling hopeless. Don’t let the pain control you. Take control of your body, love your body, and fight for your health. We have to do the best with what we are given and embrace each day as an opportunity to self-improve. I can certainly help one exercise those aches away, but remember just take it one rep a time, and put one foot in front of the other because YOU are strong. So now maybe those commercials might make a little more sense to you.