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Fibromyalgia remedies

I do not give advice, but only encourage you to listen to your body and I share my experience, namely – ways to alleviate severe conditions in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I use these methods with the permission of my rheumatologist and under her supervision. Also, only with her permission I stopped medical treatment. But each situation is individual, so please, after reading all this, do not do exactly as I do, but find an individual way to relieve pain if you have signs of autoimmune disease.

Diet

The first relief came into my life when I gave up gluten. I remember when I couldn’t imagine how that was possible. We already have a child at home with food allergies and we simply did not buy certain foods at home and now gluten should be excluded too.

I was sitting in a cafe with a good friend who had already reversed an autoimmune disease and asked her how she was doing it. She encouraged me to give up gluten altogether and warned me in which foods it might be unexpectedly present. I remember she said it took about a week for the body to get rid of gluten. So I decided not to cheat and since then I do not take gluten at all. There only possible exceptions are when I may not know that it is present in a product (such as sausage) or when the manufacturer did not indicate on the packaging ingredients.

After giving up gluten, about a week later the brain fog disappeared, I began to think and understand more clearly. But the other symptoms did not go away. Then, on the advice of a doctor, I gave up sugar and cow’s milk and most starch. So I no longer bought gluten-free pastries or pasta and stopped most baking (because gluten-free pastries consist of at least 60% starch flours like corn flour, potato starch, rice flour, tapioca etc).

Later, based on some unpleasant symptoms, a gastroenterologist gave me another diagnosis (which often occurs in patients with autoimmune disease) – irritable bowel syndrome. He offered me the FODMAP diet, which is quite strict. But I noticed that when I gave up other types of milk and dairy products that contain lactose (goat, sheep) and natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, agave syrup), and also limited myself to sugar only from fruits, then I immediately got better. Not perfect, but much better.

Fitness, sports, exercise

Two months after delivering my first child I went to the women’s fitness club FitCurves. I went there regularly and dedicatedly. For my condition, it was the perfect combination of cardio, muscle strengthening and stretching. It kept me in shape, tone, sometimes raised my mood, gave me the opportunity to be distracted from bad thoughts. And most importantly – the goals were realistic. The coaches really cared, gave good advice, listened to my symptoms. For example, on one exercise machine I did not do exercises, but just squatted next to it, because the coach found out that I had back problems. I see these advantages now, comparing it with another gym where the instructor did not listen to me much, but tried to motivate me with her methods, although I emphasized to her that I came here for general health support, not to become a super strong lady with big muscles.

Later when I became so sick that I could barely walk, the first step to rehabilitation was not even swimming, but walking in the pool. I bought swimming shoes, a music player that could be tied to the ponytail on my head, and, dipping up to my chest into the water, walked back and forth along the pool, gradually adding exercises with my arms and legs (a kind of light water aerobics). Then I went swimming, and it helped to relieve stress, but because I kept my head above water, my neck still hurt a lot and the pain went into my head. Later I learned to swim properly with an instructor – with my head in the water, the standard front crawl. For such swimming I need a swimcap, goggles, earplugs and a nose plug (unfortunately, if I get water in my ears and nose, then I have another problem).

The next step after walking in the pool was a program developed for me by a physiotherapist (who, by the way, is also diagnosed with fibromyalgia): 20 minutes on the elliptical machine to work both cardio and muscles; then 15 minutes with dumbbells, especially to strengthen the back muscles; some more neck exercises and 10 minutes of stretching.

Then I went to a jazzercise class and by that time I often already had the strength and power to be part of this class. But there were also days when right in the middle of the class I had sudden pain in my lower back and could not finish the class and it was hard to walk the 100 meters home.

I also noticed that step aerobics does not always work well for me, that sometimes it starts to hurt my lower back so I stopped that.

Many people advised me to do yoga, but I do not do it because of its spiritual aspects. This is a separate topic and discussion. Instead, I did some entry-level Pilates for a while.

I really like to ride a bike. But on a long ride it stiffens my back and hands. When certain muscles are not involved for a long time, it is not good for them. They become tense and hurt even more.

Also I did zumba and general fitness classes. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I could be in constant motion for an hour, I probably wouldn’t have believed it, but I thank God that this is my reality today. Now I do Fitness with Joe Wicks nearly every day (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ) and swim in the pool. Also some days I add exercises for stretching my neck.

The key to success in fitness is in gradual steps, a gradual increase in load, the ability to stop when you need to and force yourself when you need to, as well as comfortable sports shoes (see below).

Vitamins, supplements

My rheumatologist advised me the following supplements:

– Vitamin D (at that time I had low levels of this vitamin, as indicated by both symptoms and blood tests).
– “Osteocare” (calcium, magnesium and zinc in one tablet).
– Multivitamin for women (I take Centrum for women my age, an American brand)
– Fish Oil
I later added to my list:
– 5-HTP (“Tryptophan”) and take it at bedtime.
– Probiotics
– Activated charcoal and herbal teas for occasional irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

Massage and massagers

Not every massage helps. With fibromyalgia, it is important to be very careful with the muscles, because if you massage them hard, they can get even more sore and the condition will only get worse. Often before the massage, the physiotherapist puts a warm pad and then begins the procedure. Massage techniques include stretching the muscles, gently rubbing them. A professional masseur can find those muscles that have spasmed a lot and they usually become much more relaxed after the procedure.

Sometimes after the massage the physiotherapist uses a device that emits ultrasonic waves. There’s a mouse (like a computer’s) that drives on my back and shoulders. I don’t know if it helps for sure, because massage definitely helps, and it’s like an additional procedure after it.

At home, small bumpy balls can help: they are good for massaging both feet and back (standing near a wall and placing the ball between your back and the wall and squatting up and down). A tennis ball may also be suitable. Also back roller: you can move on it, putting it under your back, lying on the floor. Massage and fitness at the same time.

balls

I also use electric hand massager and tense machine.

Sleep

The importance of sleep is clear to everyone. Especially for people with fibromyalgia. Sleep at the same time and no later than 10 p.m. You should stop watching the screen a few hours before bedtime. In my case, taking 5-HTP helps to relax and be more prepared for sleep. I sleep 9 hours a day. A comfortable mattress plays an extremely important role. When I travel and sleep not on my mattress, I have a lot of back pain.

Warmth

Spasmed muscles love heat. Help them with a hot shower, a warm bath (you can take it with your favorite salts and aroma oils), an electric heating pack and rice bags (heated in the microwave). Instead of rice you can also use other grains. Bags can be bought or made yourself. One can be worn around your neck while moving. Balms with camphor and menthol (like Tiger Balm) help me.

Heat and cold

Both heat and cold in the air are very difficult to tolerate. I remember my 3-year-old asking me to play with her on the playground, but I couldn’t get up because I was “hit” by the heat. Now that I have to recognise immediately when it is a good time to change place, even if it will cost me: to take a taxi home, to stop a playdate or meeting. Cold packs applied to the muscles and very cold drinks make me feel worse. Although for some people the cold on the contrary improves the condition.

Dry Needling

Physiotherapists often offer this procedure to relax the muscles. I had dry needling but in my case it worsened the condition – an increase in muscle pain and a headache. But some patients say it helps.

Shoes

It should be comfortable and arched. My main shoes are Asics Gel-Kayano sneakers, which were recommended by my physiotherapist. For sandals I find the American brand SAS comfortable. I wear high-heeled shoes only for a short time for a special event.

Moisturizing

With fibromyalgia there often dry skin, mouth, eyes, and other membranes. It is necessary to drink clean water (not carbonated, not sweetened, you can add lemon, ginger, tumeric), decaffeinated teas without sweetener. I put water next to me at night, because I often wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling of thirst. It is necessary to humidify the room air with a humidifier if the hygrometer indicates dryness. Eye moisturizing drops come to the rescue when you feel “sand” in your eyes day and night. Before going to bed, a dry Thermalon eye compress helps. It has the form of an eye mask, which is slightly heated in the microwave before use, and then applied to the eyes. And, of course, moisturizer for the skin and lip balm.

Relaxation

You will find a lot of advice on various relaxation techniques, meditation, spa, floating therapy, aromatherapy and more. I did not find anything alone and something that could relax me so that my conscience would be calm (because meditations and various psychological exercises often have spiritual practices). Scents, candles, listening to the sound of water, sitting by the sea, looking at the fire, listening to the chirping of birds, pleasant music – all this should relax. Unfortunately, I don’t find time for this… By the way, loud sounds, rock concerts, noisy places are not desirable for me. After that I feel very tired. Heavy literature, difficult events in my homeland (revolution, war, various political troubles) usually hinder relaxation and improvement. If I feel that I am not ready to “digest” certain texts, I postpone them, because otherwise everything ends in a headache and a vague state. Motivational literature, positive examples of people help (Nick Vujcic, quality sermons, etc.). Then I think: if they could, then I can with God’s help and His guidance.

Support of people who love you

Extremely important. Sometimes speak up, but sometimes it is better not to say anything about your pain, so as not to feel it even more, but just have someone around. Practical help, especially from my husband. I also have a hired maid who comes for a few hours: to clean, to cut vegetables, to wash, iron… I really appreciate when friends visit us and spend time with our children.

Simplification

I learned to make my life easier. There are machines that can do the work for you, and there is work that you just stopped doing at all: I do not make complicated dishes and do not iron the bed sheets. We eat simple food that is quick and easy to prepare. Every Saturday I rest: no washing or cleaning, and I prepare food in advance.

Stop

If I see that I can’t go any further, I stop and sit down. If I feel like falling asleep, I leave the smaller child under the supervision of the older one or turn on the cartoon and I have a siesta. And if I am in a lot of pain, I take painkillers because if the pain is not stopped in time, it increases.

God’s Word and prayer

Proverbs 4:20-22

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.