Fibromyalgia Flares

Category: Fibromyalgia (FMS) Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Written by Yong Tsai, MD

Fibromyalgia, which is caused by a weakness in one or more of the brain’s chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, has been found to be associated with a lack of reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine within the brain.  Because serotonin and norepinephrine are responsible for helping the brain receive information from other tissue, a lack of can result in even a light touch or even a brush of wind causing excruciating pain in people with fibromyalgia.

Not only do neurotransmitters play an important role in the pain process, they also are part of normal brain functions and can contribute to other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel, migraines and even memory disturbance.

Mostly characterized by bouts of symptom remission and flares, the course of fibromyalgia varies from person to person.  Periods of remission can last for days, weeks and even months, while flare-ups can be linked to stress, flu, anxiety, depression, and even little things like weather change.  The most important thought to adapt is that if you have fibromyalgia, you have to be prepared and well equipped to deal with good days and bad days and how to deal with flare-ups before they occur.

Do not try to cope by succumbing to the flare up, by isolating yourself from others, or by lying in bed all day. If you cannot manage your fibromyalgia flare appropriately, you’ll only feed the vicious cycle of increased pain, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and depression.

Appropriate techniques to manage flares are with meditation, using hot or cold packs, topical muscle creams, massage, and stretching exercises.  Also of great importance is that people living with fibromyalgia have a good support system, whether it be a spouse, a friend or a family member. People who have loved ones with fibromyalgia need to encourage them to continue these appropriate techniques and practice positive thinking, especially during a flare-up.  But, don’t forget that it is equally important to provide them with love and support.

Although fibromyalgia flare-ups can be very frustrating, positive thinking, support from friends and family, in addition to a “counter attack” plan, flare ups can become manageable, and more quickly sent into remission.

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