The main symptom of fibromyalgia that nearly everyone is familiar with is pain. Fibromyalgia sufferers cope with widespread pain, aching, and stiffness throughout their bodies, particularly in the muscles, tendons, and joints. What people may not know, unless they have someone close to them affected by the condition, is that there is a laundry list of additional symptoms that a person with fibromyalgia has to cope with depending on the day. Poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression, mental fog or cloudiness, migraines, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome, and others are the types of things that can be present at any point.
Fibromyalgia Lifestyle Changes that Help You to Cope
Managing the many symptoms of fibromyalgia from day to day can require a diligent effort. Sometimes, changes must be made in order to adapt to changing symptoms and to minimize exposure to the things that can make symptoms feel much worse. Taking action can be empowering for those who live with fibromyalgia and gives you an element of control over managing their health.
Sleep: A lack of good quality sleep can become a vicious cycle for fibromyalgia sufferers. Pain can make sleeping difficult or even feel impossible, and poor sleep can increase pain levels and add to the body’s inability to heal and repair. Fortunately, this is one of the biggest areas where you can take steps to set yourself up for a better night of rest:
- Create an optimal sleep environment by keeping your bedroom cool and dark. You can try sleeping with a fan to keep air circulating and create a bit of white noise. Eliminate light sources by using blackout curtains and blocking LED lights from televisions, modems, alarm clocks, etc.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends or while on vacation. When you make an effort to go to bed and wake up around the same times each day, it can help to regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle, called your circadian rhythm.
- Develop a bedtime routine that works for you. Some people will read before bed, listen to quiet music, or prepare a warm, relaxing bath. Many will dim the lights in their home and make sure that electronic devices like the TVs, cell phones, and tablets are off in the hour or two leading up to bedtime. Whatever you find that does work for you, be sure and stick with it so that your body recognizes the signals that it’s almost time to sleep.
Exercise: While movement might be the last thing on your mind when your body seems to ache all over, the bulk of research shows that light exercise and an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to keep fibromyalgia symptoms at bay:
- Ease into exercising and don’t take on too much right out of the gate. Staring with a walk around the block or to the mailbox and back can be the beginning of a habit that helps to keep you feeling better.
- Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Since fibromyalgia symptoms can vary greatly from day to day, some days you might be able to get 30 minutes of exercise in and others 10 minutes will be plenty.
- Try new things like yoga, tai chi, or pedaling on a stationary bike. Keeping some variety in your exercise routine can help you avoid feeling like you’re stuck in a rut doing the same thing every day.
- Make sure to stretch after exercise. Stretching beforehand is good too but making sure to do some gentle stretching after exercise when your muscles are warm will yield the most benefit and help you to prevent injury.
Diet: There is no single eating plan for people with fibromyalgia, but some general guidelines can be helpful when it comes to keeping inflammation down and eating nutrient-dense foods that support tissue healing. Eating a balanced diet is a good idea for everyone, and fibromyalgia sufferers might find that proper nutrition can keep them functioning better:
- Avoid foods that can potentially trigger a flare-up of symptoms. These can vary from person to person but, generally speaking, steering clear of highly processed foods, food additives, food chemicals, and artificial flavors, sweeteners, and dyes is a good idea.
- Try eliminating gluten to see how you feel. Many fibromyalgia sufferers can either be gluten sensitive or also have celiac disease. Some people have noted significant improvements in their pain levels and overall sense of wellbeing following a gluten-free diet.
- Eat nutrient-packed foods that give you energy like nuts, seeds, lean proteins (go for organic, grass-fed meats and wild caught fish when possible), dark leafy greens, avocado, beans, and easy-to-digest fiber like oats.
Fibromyalgia Sufferers Find Hope and Healing with Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
While there is still much to be understood about fibromyalgia, it is not as much of a mystery condition now as it has been in decades past. Fibromyalgia will often develop following a traumatic event like a physical injury, emotional stress, PTSD, surgery, illness, or infection. It is thought to arise from a change in the way the brain perceives and processes pain signals. This is the link as to why many have found success with upper cervical chiropractic care – upper cervical care seeks to optimize brain-body communication by addressing the number one area where that normal function can be disturbed.
Upper cervical chiropractors focus on the uppermost vertebra in the spine, the atlas. Under normal circumstances, the atlas protects the brainstem and ensures normal processing of signals traveling between the brain and body. However, if due to an accident, injury, or wear and tear, the atlas misaligns, it can impact normal neurological function, blood flow, and cerebrospinal fluid flow. Fibromyalgia sufferers have experienced relief or even complete remission of symptoms by working with an upper cervical chiropractor to gently realign the atlas and allow the body to begin to heal and function normally. Most practitioners offer an obligation-free consultation so you may learn more about this unique, effective, and lasting approach to the restoration of health and quality of life.
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