Fibromyalgia - Lifestyle Changes

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What lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.) have you found helpful in relieving fibromyalgia pain?

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Are exercise, stress reduction, or changes in diet helpful in the treatment of fibromyalgia?

Since the symptoms of fibromyalgia are diverse and vary among patients, treatment programs must be individualized for each patient. Fibromyalgia treatment programs are most effective when they combine patient education, stress reduction, regular exercise, and medications. Recent studies have verified that the best outcome for each patient results from a combination of approaches that involves the patient in customization of the treatment plan.

Patient education

Patient education is an important first step in helping patients understand and cope with the diverse symptoms. Unfortunately, not all physicians are intimately acquainted with the vagaries of this illness. Therefore, community hospital support groups and the local chapters of the Arthritis Foundation have become important educational resources for patients and their doctors. The Arthritis Foundation is a national voluntary health organization that provides community education through their many local chapters. Community hospital support groups also provide an arena for patients to share their experiences and treatment successes and failures.

Stress reduction

It is extremely difficult to measure stress levels in different patients. For some people, spilling milk on the table can represent a significant tragedy. For others, a tank rolling into the living room might represent just another day! Therefore, stress reduction in the treatment of fibromyalgia must be individualized. Stress reduction might include simple stress modification at home or work, biofeedback, relaxation tapes, psychological counseling, and/or support among family members, friends, and doctors. Sometimes, changes in environmental factors (such as noise, temperature, and weather exposure) can exacerbate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, and these factors need to be modified. Optimal sleep is encouraged.

Exercise

Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming, cycling, walking, and stationary cross-country ski machines, can be effective fibromyalgia treatments. Exercise regimens are most beneficial when performed on an every-other-day basis, in the morning. How exercise benefits fibromyalgia is unknown. Exercise may exert its beneficial effect by promoting a deep level of sleep (non-REM sleep). Sometimes physical therapy can be helpful to optimally guide the exercise plan.

Fibromyalgia diet

Similarly, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime can also help promote a more restful sleep. Foods that lead to comfortable sleep should be favored. While these dietary changes may not apply to everyone, they can be very helpful for some. There is no specific fibromyalgia diet or food supplements that are recommended for all patients. When patients have accompanying irritable bowel syndrome, the diet should be adjusted to not aggravate the bowels. Likewise, when patients have accompanying interstitial cystitis, foods that irritate the bladder should be avoided.

Return to Fibromyalgia

See what others are saying

Comment from: Bama Girly, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 28

I find that a home spa (hot tub) helps me deal with fibromyalgia pain. I get in the water up to the base of my neck and the pain goes away. I'm also on a vegan diet and eat lots of green, leaf veggies. Animals (pets) help get your mind off yourself. Children help too.

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Comment from: pat, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I was diagnosed with fibro for 2 years now. There are days it is very hard to get out of bed. But I push on. My daughter suggested the book Eat to Live. I have been trying to follow the diet suggested in the book. I have felt better and have more energy then before hoping this will help more as time goes on.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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