Fibromyalgia can be a problematic condition. Not only will you have to deal with widespread pain and chronic fatigue, but you’ll also run across people who think you are making up this disease.
You’re bound to have plenty of questions about this ailment, including:
And then, as with any disease diagnosis, you’ll be wondering if there was something you did to trigger your condition. Knowing the suspected causes of fibromyalgia can help set your mind at ease.
Since this condition is not fully understood, there is a lot of misinformation circulating about it. Here are some of the top myths you may encounter.
Few People Have This Condition
Some estimates say up to 10 million people in the U.S. have fibromyalgia, while other estimates state it is closer to 5 million. Either way, that’s a lot of people who are struggling with the same thing you are.
Only Women Get Fibromyalgia
While it’s true more women have this condition than men, men do still get it. Up to 90 percent of the cases are in women, with the remainder found in men and children.
You Just Have to Live With It
There is no cure for this condition. But there is a lot you can do to ease your symptoms, including medications and self-care measures.
To learn more, you should seek medical advice if you suspect you have fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Feels the Same for Everyone
Some people may be lucky enough to only have mild symptoms of fibromyalgia. Others may have much worse chronic pain and fatigue.
Although there may be undiscovered reasons for getting this condition, known things that trigger fibromyalgia include:
- Autoimmune disorders: Having an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis doesn’t mean you’ll end up with fibromyalgia. But there appears to be some sort of link, based on the number of people who develop fibromyalgia and an autoimmune disorder.
- Heredity: You can thank your parents for giving you genes that may predispose you to this condition.
- Infections: Adenoviruses and the flu, as well as other infections, have been linked as a possible cause for this condition.
Stress and psychological factors: Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to fibromyalgia.
Trauma: Can trauma cause fibromyalgia? You bet. If you were the victim of sexual or physical trauma, even as a child, your risk of contracting this condition is elevated.
- Lack of physical activity: Those who don’t exercise or rarely do are likelier to develop fibromyalgia. That gives people yet one more reason to stay active.
Whether you’ve got some of the risk factors for this condition, you’re convinced your doctor will be diagnosing fibromyalgia, or you’ve already heard you have it, there’s a lot you can do to protect your health. Let’s look at some self-care measures that can help.
Get More Sleep
Sleep can be hard for many of us. It’s a natural state, but it can be a struggle to get there. If you’re worried about your health or experiencing pain, it can be even harder.
Make your bedroom a safe haven -- a relaxing worry-free zone. Paint your walls a soothing color, use gentle lighting, and buy a white noise machine. Get some comfortable sheets -- maybe fancier ones than you would normally buy. Those soft sheets might help you drift off to sleep.
Also, if you are prone to anxiety or find physical pressure reassuring or comfortable, you can purchase a weighted blanket. Some people with fibromyalgia find these calming or relaxing. The weighted blanket may help you get a better night’s sleep.
You can also relax before bedtime by taking a warm bath and drinking a hot cup of herbal tea. You should also stay away from stressors such as emails, text messages, and phone calls for about an hour before bed.
Cut Back on Stress
It’s not just the stress you have before you sleep that you should avoid. You should watch out for this toxic energy-sapper all day too.
You won’t be able to avoid all stress obviously. But you should cut down on it wherever you can. If you are stressed about finances, try making some cuts so you can save up an emergency fund. That might help you worry less about money.
If your job is a nightmare, perhaps you should switch companies or even careers.
Do you have people in your life who are creating so much drama that you’re on edge all the time? Consider cutting those people out of your life, or at least giving them a smaller role in your life.
Remember how inactivity is one of the triggers for fibromyalgia? The good news is that it works well for lessening your symptoms as well. In the beginning you might not have enough energy to get in a full workout. That’s okay! Start small if you have to, but just make sure you do a few minutes of a walk or some other gentle exercise.
You might find that high-impact exercises such as running aren’t possible for you. You can still do less jolting exercises like swimming and yoga.
Take Care of Yourself
This condition isn’t the end of your health and vitality. It can be difficult to deal with, but after the shock wears off, you’ll be able to get to your new version of feeling normal.
And while you may never know exactly what triggered your condition, you’ll learn ways that you can ease your symptoms.