Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain processing disorder that causes widespread pain, sleep issues with associated fatigue, cognitive changes, often depression, and anxiety. Approximately 4 million adults across the United States are affected by this historically poorly understood but common health condition.
Fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses can be extremely difficult to live with not only because of how they affect you physically but also because of the emotional toll they can take after a long period. Coping with many unknowns is challenging to manage, and with a condition like fibromyalgia where each day can present with a different set of symptoms with degrees of severity, it’s normal that you’ll have worries and concerns that cloud your mind.
Worry #1: “I feel like a burden on my family and friends.”
People living with fibromyalgia, as well as others who live with a chronic illness, can worry that they will become a burden on their loved ones. It can be easy to forget that those who care about you will listen to you, help you, and care for you on your most difficult days.
Worry #2: “I’m afraid to make plans with people.”
When you live with an unpredictable health condition such as fibromyalgia, it can be hard to feel comfortable making plans with friends and family. Activities that may seem so simple to others such as going out for dinner or agreeing to pick the kids up from school can be stressful for a person with fibromyalgia to plan for. Sometimes declining an invitation to socialize is difficult to accept, but it means that you’re putting your health as the top priority. Those who love you will understand why you may need to cancel plans at the last minute or politely decline invitations.
Worry #3: “I won’t be able to support myself.”
Chronic illness can cause a lot of worry about going to school, having a career, or holding down a job. When you’re in near-constant pain, the fear of whether or not you’ll be able to support yourself financially can be severe. Thankfully there are many options for those who don’t hold down the traditional 9-5 work schedule. Many jobs can be done remotely and have flexible schedules, or if you have a skill or talent you can offer you may even go into business for yourself and create your own hours. For students with fibromyalgia, you may have to lighten your course load as needed to give yourself ample time for self-care.
Worry #4: “When I feel good I’m worried about when my next flare up will come.”
It’s a terrible irony that fibromyalgia sufferers live with that good, low-symptom days can be plagued with worry about when things might take a turn for the worse. Being able to completely relax when you’re free from any major symptoms when you’re used to hurting, sleeping poorly, and feeling foggy and fatigued can be difficult, if not impossible. It’s common for people to worry about when the next episode or flare-up will happen, but it’s important to try and enjoy the periods of feeling better whether they be moments, days, weeks, or even months.
Worry #5: “I’m going to feel like this forever.”
When you’ve been worn down by chronic pain, it is understandable that you might feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. The nature of chronic pain conditions is that they are often cyclical in nature. You may have a period of several bad weeks followed by weeks where your energy levels are up and pain levels are down. Forming a support system of people who can remind you that peaks often come after valleys and that things can and often do improve can help boost your spirits when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut of feeling sick.
Understanding Pain Helps Ease the Worry for Fibromyalgia Sufferers
How you perceive pain has to do with how a painful stimulus makes its way to the brain to be interpreted. People with fibromyalgia experience an amplification of pain – things that would not ordinarily be perceived as painful may hurt, and painful stimuli may be experienced as more extreme. Pain originates at the site of an injury or inflammation and sends a signal from there to the spinal cord to be relayed to the brain. Your brain registers the pain and sends a response back to the area of the body that hurts so that it can respond appropriately (such as pulling your hand away from a hot burner on the stove).
In people with chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia, this processing system is altered and more sensitized to pain. Even a gentle touch can be misinterpreted as painful due to abnormalities in the nervous system.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Gives Hope to Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Upper cervical chiropractic care is a subspecialty within chiropractic that focuses on the uppermost vertebrae in the spine. These two unique bones protect the brainstem, which is one of the most vital parts of your central nervous system. A misalignment of this area of the spine can irritate the spinal cord and brainstem and disrupt the communication of pain signals. This may even offer an explanation as to why fibromyalgia frequently develops following a trauma, illness, or injury.
For fibromyalgia sufferers, having this vital part of the spine and nervous system examined by an upper cervical chiropractor can be key to restoring healthy brain-body communication and pain processing. Many people with fibromyalgia have reported a decrease in overall symptoms and an increase in their quality of life as a result of their care.
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