Fibromyalgia - Take Control

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Category: Fibromyalgia (FMS) Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Written by Yong Tsai, MD
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TAKING CONTROL OF FIBROMYLGIA:  IT’S THE NAME OF THE GAME

“ I have learned never to underestimate the capacity of the human mind and body to regenerate-even when prospects seem most wretched. The life force may be the least understood force on this earth” Dr. Noramn Cousins, the author of “ The Anatomy of An Illness”

Like in a game of poker, to be the winner over fibromyalgia, you must have the best hand: healthy living. This consists of not only a healthy body, but foremost a healthy mind.

The word fibromyalgia (FMS) comes from “fibro” meaning fibrous tissues (such as tendons and ligaments), “my” meaning muscles and “ algia” meaning pain. Such pain combined with fibromyalgia’s other symptoms can wreak havoc on normal day today living and leave it’s victim with a sense of frustration and aloneness.

Last week, I received an e-mail from a reader. I would like to share with you her experience:

“I am 41 years old. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was 27. Reading your article brought back many memories and past frustrations: going from doctor to doctor and test to test, not really finding out what’s going on. People doubt that you have a problem and they are tired of hearing you don’t feel well because you look normal. It was probably the worst time of my life. So, a diagnosis came with relief. It didn’t matter that there was no cure; there was a name.After suffering with years of flares, depression, fatigue and sadness became my constant companions. My husband and I were very active and we had two young girls. Then, I became sick and was always tired and depressed. Everyday, I asked myself “How could I live like this for the rest of my life?” After 7 or 8 years of living with fibromyalgia, I decided to give my immune system the fight of its life: I was going regain control of my life over this disease.

I started eating really healthy and exercising everyday and learned to watch my stress level.No excuses! I was able to control my stress and depression through prayer and a strong relationship with God. What ended up happening was amazing. Month after month, year after year, I got better. Now, six years later, I have only memories of fibromyalgia. I am healthy, I never get sick, and I never even suffer with allergies. I walk or run about 20 miles a week and lift weights 3 times a week. Now, I am strong, happy, blessed and in better shape then I have ever been. I have the energy to work full-time, take care of my family, exercise and live life to it’s fullest. Every now and then I have a flare for a day or two, and I am reminded that fibromyalgia will always be a part of my life, but it won’t control it anymore. I feel truly blessed to have my health back and everyday, I am very grateful for feeling good. Please share this with your patients. There is hope you can feel better: I am proof!” Sincerely, Tracey.

As you can see, Tracey regained control of her life. She realized that there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but that with the right cards, she could have the upper hand. She was able to determine that good eating habits, daily exercise and especially stress management were her wild cards. She learned how to play them right: with consistency and perseverance. And she won!

The treatment of FMS has traditionally been geared towards using drugs to reduce pain, control depression and increase the quality of sleep. Other treatment options that have been utilized with fibromyalgia sufferers are trigger point injections, acupuncture, physical therapy, therapeutic massage and relaxation training. However, overall, current treatment has not been very effective and, as a result, the treatment of fibromyalgia has been a frustrating venture for both physician and patient.

There has been increasing evidence that the major problem of FMS is the dysfunction of the central nervous system and neurotransmitters. We also know that stress, physical trauma, emotional trauma, depression, and immobility can trigger or even aggravate FMS symptoms. Recent studies suggest that a positive attitude, determination, regular exercise, a healthy diet, good stress relief skills and perseverance are essential for successful management of FMS.

DETERMINATION:

Our attitude influences our actions. Therefore, in order to overcome FMS, you need to have a positive attitude. With commitment, perseverance, hard work and appositive attitude, you can reach your goals of healthy living.

COPING WITH STRESS AND DEPRESSION:

Depression is a very common side effect of FMS. It is a natural response to be upset and stressed out when pain forces you to give up favorite activities and makes routine chores difficult to complete. Effective stress management techniques such as relaxation, meditation or prayer can greatly assist the FMS patient in fighting depression.

EXERCISE:

Cardiovascular activity, stretching and weight resistance are essential for weight control, pain reduction, stress reduction, strength and restoration of muscle flexibility for FMS patients. Some days, in order to avoid exercise burnout, you may need to decreased the length of your workout.

A HEALTHY DIET:

Your body needs a variety of nutrients in order to function as peak performance, including fats, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and photochemical. Balance is key in nutrition. Therefore, it is essential to eat a variety of food amounts and combinations. Also, in order to get all the necessary nutrients, sometimes, it may be necessary to take nutritional supplements.

Realizing that you need to have a healthy mind, body and soul is what will put on the road to good health. Even if you have fibromyalgia, you can regain control and live a normal productive life when you deal yourself a winning hand. As Tracey said, there is hope and you can feel better. She is proof!

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