What Is A Fibromyalgia Flare? | Living with Fibromyalgia (REPOST)

The second most common question that people living with fibromyalgia (or any chronic invisible illness for that matter) get asked next to What is Fibromyalgia is What is a Fibromyalgia Flare?

If you know someone living with this illness then you’ve probably heard them tell you on one occasion or another that they are experiencing a “flare up”. Trying to articulate what you mean by a “flare” is perhaps one of the hardest things to do mainly because “flares” look so different for each person.

Surprisingly, attempting to explain a flare is just as difficult as trying to understand a flare and it is for this reason that so many of us living with the illness avoid discussing our symptoms altogether.

However, education, awareness, and knowledge are important when dealing with any chronic illness- fibromyalgia or otherwise and it is only through explaining that we help all people grasp the truly omnipresent nature of chronic invisible illness and help everyone to better understand what we live with day in and day out.

It is only through explaining that we help all people grasp the truly omnipresent nature of chronic invisible illness and help everyone to better understand what we live with day in and day out.

To put it succinctly “Talking about our disease is the only way we can get the support, empathy, and understanding that we need from caretakers, health care providers, family and the greater public.

That being said, the article below (taken from Arthritis.org) provides the easiest and most succinct explanation of fibromyalgia “flares” and I hope that everyone reading it can understand just alittle bit better what those of us living with the chronic illness experience each and every day.

What Is a fibromyalgia Flare courtesy Arthritis.org

While a person with fibromyalgia might experience certain symptoms on a regular basis, when symptoms worsen or happen more frequently for a period of time, it is called a flare.

“A flare is the worsening or exacerbation of symptoms that already exist,” says Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology, rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Patients use different timeframes for what they consider a flare, but it’s generally several days or weeks of worsening symptoms. Anything shorter is considered normal waxing and waning of symptoms that someone with fibromyalgia can expect.”

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Widespread muscle pain
  • Fatigue that makes completing daily activities difficult
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after a long period of inactivity
  • Cognitive difficulties, also known as fibro fog, including problems with memory, concentration and organization
  • Emotional issues, such as anxiety, sadness or depression
  • Sleep problems, such as taking a long time to fall or sleep, frequent waking or waking up and still not feeling rested

While these are common symptoms among people with fibromyalgia, everyone experiences flares differently.

“People with fibromyalgia do not all experience flares the same way,” Dr. Clauw says. “A good way to explain it is that every person with fibromyalgia has their Achilles heel – their ‘thing’ that really gives them trouble. When their fibromyalgia worsens, that particular thing really gets bad.”

A person’s predominant symptoms during a flare can change over time.

Triggers for fibromyalgia Flares

One of the best ways to prevent a flare is to determine what might be causing it in the first place. These causes are called triggers. Like symptoms, triggers for fibromyalgia vary by person, but they can include:

  • Physical or psychological stress
  • Temperature and/weather changes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Traveling and/or changes in schedule
  • Changes in treatment
  • Diet
  • Poor sleep

“We know that any type of stress – not just psychological, but also physical, immune or anything that disrupts the body’s normal routine – can trigger a flare,” Dr. Clauw says. “Anything from a motor vehicle accident to surgery or another type of stressful life event can cause a worsening of symptoms. Flares can also be caused by behavioral triggers such as not sleeping well, suddenly stopping exercise or overdoing it on activity.”

Some flares are unavoidable, and certain triggers are beyond your control. You can try to identify what aggravates your fibromyalgia symptoms by keeping a log of your activities, what you eat, how you sleep and how all of those factors influence your symptoms. After logging these factors for several weeks, you might be able to see a pattern. This will help you know how to better manage the inputs that might trigger a flare.

To learn more click here

For the entire month of November, the blog will feature articles, features and information that is relented to chronic pain, invisible illness, and rare diseases in celebration of the U.S Pain Foundation’s annual KNOWvember campaign.

Source: Arthritis.org (article) The Vanguard Clinic (image)

 

 

What Is A Typical Day Like for Someone Living with Chronic Pain

For those of you that wonder:

What is a typical day like for someone living with chronic pain?

Yesterday my friend Katie M. Golden published an article for online magazine The Mighty entitled “When Social Security Asked About My ‘Typical Day’ With Chronic Illness” in the article she perfectly sums up the imperfect world and typically non-typical day that those of us with chronic pain experience.

In her case the disease is chronic migraine and even though my disease is different the overall daily experience is quite similar. Katie was fortunate to get disability benefits which I was repeatedly denied. I was able to create my our atypical career.

Read her article and be sure to share and help us spread awareness for chronic pain conditions like chronic migraine. These illness are invisible but the pain is very real and very life altering.

Read the article here: http://tiny.cc/chronpain

Katie is a professional patient, writer for Migraine.com, US Pain Ambassador, patient advocate, speaker, freelance writer, and blogger of GoldenGraine.com

Visit US Pain Foundation to learn ways you can be an advocate for chronic pain

Fibromyalgia Sucks | Living with Fibromyalgia (REPOST)

The last few weeks have been a challenge to say the least. The arrival of spring always equals an increase in fatigue, pain, fog, and flares but this year seems to be hitting me harder than previous. Living in Upstate NY doesn’t”t help as our constantly changing weather only adds insult to the injury of living with fibromyagia.

Despite the never ending flares I’ve learned how to cope with and manage over long flares like the one I’m presently in. Still the post below that I shared back in December remains ever more appropriate. No matter how much you push, cope, think positively and carry on with being functional despite the flare, fibromyalgia sucks.

Photo credit: Fine Art America

Continue reading

I HATE FIBROMYALGIA | Living with Fibromyalgia

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired

Honestly. Truly. I’m typing this post at the end of a very long. Very blah. Very flare day and I’m glad it’s over. I try really really hard to maintain positivity, pep, fight, zeal, vigor, and might on most days. I muster up and pray for strength and energy to push through the fatigue, the listlessness, the fatigue, and the fog almost every single day. But some mornings (many lately) I wake up at 5:00 AM and I just lie there and say. This SUCKS.

FIBROMYALGIA SUCKS

Why do I have to feel this way every single waking hour of every single day?

Why do I have to think about my thinking?

Why do I have to talk myself through simply sitting up in bed?

Why do I have to deliberate on whether I have enough non-existent spoons?

Why do I  have to prioritize what is most important and what can I cancel?

Why do I have to justify laying in bed all day?

Why do I have to Justify pushing myself?

Talking through how I will cancel?

Think about the future financial implications of missing a day of work?

Feel like a failure?

Talk away the guilt?

Question my entire existence?

Try to find the beauty in the pain?

Why do I have to explain to myself that it’s ok to be negative?

It’s ok to sit in the pain for a day?

To wallow is the pity?

Why do I have to question why?

It’s days like today that I hate. I hate this illness. But what I hate even more is its insidious effects on my mental stability, my thought process, and my psyche. It hate that it chips away at my spirit. It gnaws at my soul. It zaps away at my happiness. A vicious never ending cycle of chasing the light. Trying to find beauty in madness. Light in darkness. See the beauty beyond the pain.

Raise your hand and comment if you feel or have felt this way? I promise I won’t judge you if you do. It’s ok to allow yourself to feel the hate. To despise the pain. Allow yourself to not be ok. To articulate that this fibro life is hard. This Fibro life sucks.

But

We

Can

and

We will

Be Ok

You can be in pain yet you can see beauty…

I promise

To Be Continued…

The Spoon Theory

I cant believe that I’ve been running this site for nearly five years and never shared The Spoon Theory. For those of you that want to understand what it feels like to live with fibromyalgia, lupus, or any other chronic invisible illness this is a must read. Penned by Chronic Illness advocate and activist Christine Miserandino, The Spoon Theory is the easiest, most succinct way to describe what I (and thousands of others) deal with twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Every hour, every minute, every second.

The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino

(download here)

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

The Spoon Theory is the easiest, most succinct way to describe what I (and thousands of others) deal with twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

Source (But You Don’t Look Sick)

INvisible Beauty in Pain Artist Spotlight & Interview | Isabelle St-Pierre

The third INvisible Beauty in Pain Artist Spotlight hails all the way from Quebec, Canada.

The INvisible Beauty In Pain campaign’s third artist spotlight is Isabelle St-Pierre

Isabelle St-Pierre alias ZAZAROXY is a french canadian artist from Quebec. She worked 20 years in Financial and Marketing of Insurance before her migraines became daily chronic. She donated two stunning works of art for the INvisible Beauty in Pain Gallery.

Check out Isabelle’s interview below:

 When did you begin your career as an artist and what inspired you to pursue art?

 (IS) I always had the artistic flame in me. I remember doing my first necklace with old buttons at age of four with my grandma. She taugh me knitting, embroidery, basic drawing and painting. She was the one that inspired me and encouraged me in the Art field when I was young. I began doing some Art again when I was about 30 (15 years ago…) to help me to deal with migraines: watercolor and sketching courses, making jewelry.

But my real passion for drawing and painting came back about 2 and half years now, first with Art-therapy sessions, followed by taking web classes on Creativebug.com and then going to an Art retreat in California meeting my idols Lisa Congdon and Courtney Cerruti and many other artists that inspired me and with whom I am still in contact.

Do you have a chronic invisible illness?

(IS) I have daily chronic migraines and Fibromyalgia.

When were you diagnosed with your chronic illness?

(IS) Chronic migraines were “officially” diagnosed in 2007 (at the age of 37) my Md specialized in migraines but I was having migraines since University increasing in frequency and level of pain across the years with daily frequency and first disability at work in 2004. In long term invalidity since 2012 (at age of 42), after trying so hard to combine work and an incredible level of pain occurring daily. Fibromyalgia was diagnosed in 2015; probably as a result of immobility, stress, daily neck and chronic pain.

What lead up to your diagnosis (symptoms, dr visits, etc) and how did you find comfort through art, painting, singing, writing or being creative?

 All the symptoms I had, visits through all neurologists and doctors (so many!), emergency hospital stays, all paramedical trials (acupuncture, osteopath, chiropractor, massage therapy, etc.), all meds AND many disabilities lead up to my diagnosis. It is really hard to find the good doctor and team that will really help you. That’s why Chronic pain Associations and Patients’ communities are so important.

Making Art for me is SO healing even when my level of pain is high. For me drawing is my Meditation: it enables me to concentrate myself in my own kind of fairy world where I can release my emotions. I try to draw daily to keep my zen routine, often wearing my ice hat to control my level of pain, but I do it, I love it and I am proud of it. I suggest everybody suffering from chronic pain to find a creative activity they like and do it daily. You can begin just doodling or simple knitting, it’s so relaxing, you will forget your pain during your activity.

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your career as an artist?

Not comparing myself with people who don’t have health issues. I mean, I always want to do more, faster, bigger as others… but my body often says: It’s enough for today girl!

How does chronic illness impact your process as an artist?

I think you can really feel emotions through my Art, particularly in my drawings. That’s the comments I often receive. Living with chronic illness makes me more sensitive and I think it’s the positive impact.

Of course, I would love to do more Art, have my own Art & Atelier shop, go to more Art events, and sometimes it is really frustrating…but I am really proud of the progress I have made in last years and focus of myself progression even if it’s slower that I wish…

 What (if anything) have you found/ done that has improved your symptoms?

(IS) It took me years to believe in that, but controlling your respiration and meditating helped me a lot in reducing the level of pain. A device called Cefaly, helps me. I wanna try restorative Yoga and more pool exercises. And very important, keep doing some simple activities with close friends, even when you have pain (up to a tolerable level of course). It’s like natural endorphins. Don’t stay alone!

How open are you with friends & family about your illness & symptoms?

(IS) I have to say that I am single, no children, with one dog. So my close family is very important for me and I stay temporarily in my parent’s home to break isolation and for help in daily activities. They are very compassionate and empathetic.

I know that my dad wishes so much that I will recover and will be like before… an energetic bomb! And secretly in my mind I have hope for that too. It is really hard to accept the “chronic” aspect of a condition, even after many years. I am still working on it and still trying finding new treatments at the same time.

My close friends are very empathetic and flexible for planning and last-minute cancelling activities. Of course you lose some friends that don’t understand your condition but you make new real friends, I can assure you.As for extended family, some coworkers and not regular friends: most do not understand what you have and judge you because it is invisible illness. I try to make the most education I can but sometimes, you have to give up and focus on persons that make you feel good. That’s what I do now.

What was the worst advice that you followed?

(IS) I think I did not really received worst advice except in 2004, a neurologist told me that there was nothing else to do with my case… I was really chocked, I cried, but the day after I was looking for another Md to help me, even if it was 3 hours from my home. I am very lucky to have parents, sister, close friends and coworkers that always wanted to help me and did not judge me.  

Outside of art, What is your favorite way to cope with your life as a spoonie?

(IS) Playing with my dog Roxy. He is my best companion for 11 years. He can feel when I am in pain and can stay close to me for hours. He makes me smile when I am down and is my 24 hours friend. Animal therapy is for me the best therapy.

What is it that inspires you to keep going, despite your illness?

(IS) My family, my close friends, my dog, internet Art, Migraine and Chronic Illness community… and Me. I put Art and volunteering as focus in my life. It is SO important to still have dreams, realize them and always have projects in our life even if they seem impossible at first.

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since your diagnosis?

(IS) I am strong warrior! Of course I have ups and downs… but 2 years ago I really made the choice to live. I surround myself with positive, helping and creative persons; living the present moment and making my dreams come true, even if it’s hard, painful…it worth it.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone newly diagnosed with an invisible illness.

(IS) Surround yourself with positive, helping, emphathetic people. Join an Invisible illness community to help find resources and break isolation.

Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?

(IS) Don’t forget you are YOU and you are NOT your illness. And don’t give up! There is always someone somewhere to help you dealing with your pain.

For the rest of KNOWvember, we will feature the biographies and the meaning behind the works of art created by and donated to the INvisible Beauty in Pain Gallery by each of the thirteen artists that submitted work for this campaign.

All works are available to be seen in person at 540WMain and are a celebration of The U.S Pain Foundation’s KNOWvember campaign which you can learn more about by clicking here.

To purchase one or both of the photographs above, email Calvin Eaton at asktheglutenfreechef@gmail.com and to learn more about Isabelle on her Instagram page.

What Is A Fibromyalgia Flare? | Living with Fibromyalgia

The second most common question that people living with fibromyalgia (or any chronic invisible illness for that matter) get asked next to What is Fibromyalgia is What is a Fibromyalgia Flare?

If you know someone living with this illness then you’ve probably heard them tell you on one occasion or another that they are experiencing a “flare up”. Trying to articulate what you mean by a “flare” is perhaps one of the hardest things to do mainly because “flares” look so different for each person.

Surprisingly, attempting to explain a flare is just as difficult as trying to understand a flare and it is for this reason that so many of us living with the illness avoid discussing our symptoms altogether.

However, education, awareness, and knowledge are important when dealing with any chronic illness- fibromyalgia or otherwise and it is only through explaining that we help all people grasp the truly omnipresent nature of chronic invisible illness and help everyone to better understand what we live with day in and day out.

It is only through explaining that we  help all people grasp the truly omnipresent nature of chronic invisible illness and help everyone to better understand what we live with day in and day out.

To put it succinctly “Talking about our disease is the only way we can get the support, empathy, and understanding that we need from caretakers, health care providers, family and the greater public. 

That being said, the article below (taken from Arthritis.org) provides the easiest and most succinct explanation of fibromyalgia “flares” and I hope that everyone reading it can understand just alittle bit better what those of us living with the chronic illness experience each and every day.

What Is a Fibromyalgia Flare courtesy Arthritis.org

While a person with fibromyalgia might experience certain symptoms on a regular basis, when symptoms worsen or happen more frequently for a period of time, it is called a flare.

“A flare is the worsening or exacerbation of symptoms that already exist,” says Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology, rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Patients use different timeframes for what they consider a flare, but it’s generally several days or weeks of worsening symptoms. Anything shorter is considered normal waxing and waning of symptoms that someone with fibromyalgia can expect.”

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Widespread muscle pain
  • Fatigue that makes completing daily activities difficult
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after a long period of inactivity
  • Cognitive difficulties, also known as fibro fog, including problems with memory, concentration and organization
  • Emotional issues, such as anxiety, sadness or depression
  • Sleep problems, such as taking a long time to fall or sleep, frequent waking or waking up and still not feeling rested

While these are common symptoms among people with fibromyalgia, everyone experiences flares differently.

“People with fibromyalgia do not all experience flares the same way,” Dr. Clauw says. “A good way to explain it is that every person with fibromyalgia has their Achilles heel – their ‘thing’ that really gives them trouble. When their fibromyalgia worsens, that particular thing really gets bad.”

A person’s predominant symptoms during a flare can change over time.

Triggers for Fibromyalgia Flares

One of the best ways to prevent a flare is to determine what might be causing it in the first place. These causes are called triggers. Like symptoms, triggers for fibromyalgia vary by person, but they can include:

  • Physical or psychological stress
  • Temperature and/weather changes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Traveling and/or changes in schedule
  • Changes in treatment
  • Diet
  • Poor sleep

“We know that any type of stress – not just psychological, but also physical, immune or anything that disrupts the body’s normal routine – can trigger a flare,” Dr. Clauw says. “Anything from a motor vehicle accident to surgery or another type of stressful life event can cause a worsening of symptoms. Flares can also be caused by behavioral triggers such as not sleeping well, suddenly stopping exercise or overdoing it on activity.”

Some flares are unavoidable, and certain triggers are beyond your control. You can try to identify what aggravates your fibromyalgia symptoms by keeping a log of your activities, what you eat, how you sleep and how all of those factors influence your symptoms. After logging these factors for several weeks, you might be able to see a pattern. This will help you know how to better manage the inputs that might trigger a flare.

To learn more click here

For the entire month of November, the blog will feature articles, features and information that is relented to chronic pain, invisible illness, and rare diseases in celebration of the U.S Pain Foundation’s annual KNOWvember campaign. 

Source: Arthritis.org (article) The Vanguard Clinic (image)