Even though fibromyalgia is now recognized as one of the most common chronic pain conditions, many people affected by the condition are still suffering and in search of answers. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and those living with it experience very real pain and other symptoms despite the fact that the cause remains unclear. Widespread pain, fatigue, brain fog, and mood changes are among the many symptoms of this life-altering condition. Striking a good balance when it comes to lifestyle changes and choices is an important coping tool that can help keep flare-ups to a minimum and improve quality of life.
#1 – Sleep balance
For fibromyalgia sufferers, it’s not as simple as just saying “you’ll feel better after you get a good night’s rest.” Sleep can be part of a vicious cycle – the pain of fibromyalgia can make it difficult to sleep comfortably, and a lack of restorative sleep can amplify the pain. While guaranteeing a good night of rest is by no means easy, there are certain things you can try in order to maximize your chances of success:
- Keep your room dark. Eliminate even small sources of light such as a modem or an alarm clock. Blackout curtains can also help.
- Keep your room cool. Your bedroom should be in the 60 to 67-degree range for optimal sleep.
- Wind down before bedtime. An hour or two before bed, try eliminating screen time and light candles, put on relaxing music, meditate, or take a warm bath.
#2 – Exercise balance
Exercise can be a double-edged sword for fibromyalgia suffers. Being sedentary can cause an increase in pain perception, weight gain, and be associated with increased depression. Overdoing it on exercise can also cause an increase in pain and can cause a flare-up of other symptoms as well. People living with fibromyalgia come to understand that each day is different and some days it’s possible to push yourself harder than others.
Typically, people living with fibromyalgia do well with low-impact movements like walking, pedaling on a stationary bike, or swimming. Others have found tai chi or yoga to be helpful. The bottom line is that finding a balance of what exercises work for your body and knowing when to ease up a bit will make it easier to manage.
#3 – Diet balance
For some people living with fibromyalgia, what they choose to eat can have a big impact on how they feel. However, that doesn’t mean that making dietary changes will fix everything. Diet trends and fads have always been around – the Paleo diet, the Keto diet, Whole 30, intermittent fasting, gluten-free, vegan, the Mediterranean diet, etc. Any of these diet regimens are not inherently good or bad. The trouble is that they’re not all suited for everyone, and sometimes the hefty restrictions of following a strictly laid out diet plan can do more harm than good. The balance comes in identifying any food sensitivities and listening to your body. What relieves symptoms in one person may very well trigger a flare-up in another.
Fibromyalgia sufferers do stand to benefit from incorporating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and energy-boosting foods. Nutrition research has shown that a healthy diet can have a positive impact on overall health, and what you choose to eat can play a role in how your body experiences the many symptoms of fibromyalgia. In general, fibromyalgia sufferers should try to incorporate the following into their daily foods:
- Antioxidants – dietary antioxidants help to fight free radicals which can cause cell damage. Vitamins C and E can help protect your body against the effects of free radicals by neutralizing them and reducing inflammation which can increase pain. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include berries (cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries), nuts (pecans, walnuts), dark chocolate, cilantro, kidney beans, and boiled artichoke.
- Amino acids – amino acids are the building blocks of proteins that make up the muscles and cells in the body. Fibromyalgia sufferers may have lower levels of certain amino acids, so it may be of benefit to incorporate lean proteins into the diet such as free-range poultry, wild-caught fish (salmon, halibut, tuna), plant-based proteins (soybeans, quinoa), and dairy products.
- Iron – iron plays a role in the formation of dopamine and serotonin, chemicals in the brain that are important to pain perception. Spinach, lentils, broccoli, tofu, kale, eggs, and quinoa are all examples of foods that have high iron content.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: Natural Fibromyalgia Relief
Even though there isn’t 100% clarity about the origins of fibromyalgia, current research is pointing to problems in the central nervous system and its ability to process pain signals. Upper cervical chiropractic is a subspecialty that focuses on optimizing central nervous system. More specifically, adjustments are concentrated in the area where the neck forms a junction with the skull and protects the brainstem, which plays a major role in the processing and interpretation of pain signals. The atlas vertebra, the uppermost one in the neck, can shift out of its normal alignment due to accident, injury, or wear and tear over time. This can, in turn, cause irritation to the brainstem and cause a disturbance in the ability to appropriately sense pain. Upper cervical chiropractors gently and precisely correct these misalignments in order to give the body the opportunity to function more optimally.
Upper cervical chiropractic care has helped many fibromyalgia sufferers significantly reduce or even eliminate many of their worst symptoms. Finding out more about this unique approach to healthcare starts with finding a practitioner in your area and scheduling a consultation. This may be the first step towards a natural, sustainable fibromyalgia solution.