One of the hardest parts of dealing with fibromyalgia is dealing with the unpredictable widespread pain. We deal with good days and bad days, constant aches and spasms, and all of the adjustments to our lifestyles that come with the pain. After I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was forced to alter my life significantly. I became much less active, as I had to stop working, stop exercising, and in a lot of ways, I stopped living my life. Recently, I have learned that fibromyalgia follows one of the golden rules in life: Knowledge is Power. The more we know about the disease the better. If we learn about our triggers, causes and treatments, we can learn how to cope with the pain.
One way to find out about what causes or adds to our pain is by keeping pain logs. I started keeping records of when my pain starts, what type of pain I am having, etc., so that I can better understand how the condition affects my body, my mood and my life. Keeping a record or log will help you understand if your pain is connected to weather patterns, times of day, medications, foods, stress, etc. Learning about these connections can be key to the difference between thriving or surviving with Fibromyalgia.
In keeping my logs, I noticed that my pain always worsened around a certain “time of the month.” This connection made sense to me, seeing that periods cause cramping and pain, and fibromyalgia causes hypersensitivity to pain. After noticing this pattern in my pain log, I decided to do a little further research about the connection between Fibromyalgia and menstrual pain. I found articles in medical journals all over the internet stating that fibromyalgia pain worsened prior to and during women’s menstrual cycles.
Armed with this information, I know understood that during my menstrual cycle I could expect increased pain. This was not exactly a “fun” discovery, knowing that my fibro pain each month would only get worse due to cramps, bloating, and general discomfort. However, I knew that this discovery would be good for me in the long run. Not only did this allow me to adjust my medication schedule and regimen, but it also encouraged me to research other forms of treatments and methods that could help alleviate the pain.
Everyone will respond differently to treatments and medications, so I encourage anyone with fibromyalgia and menstrual pain to experiment with different options. Personally, I’ve learned the importance of using hot packs and lidocaine patches, especially during menstruation. I’ve also become best friends with my heated blanket, as the heat does wonders for my aching joints. Warm baths also help to relieve stress and tension in my shoulders and back, making the pain more bearable.
The key to dealing with fibromyalgia is to remain active and proactive. It is easy to get “stuck in a rut” when you have a lot of pain, but remember, if you remain in bed, the pain will only get worse. It is important to get up and move around when you can, and in doing so, actively search out remedies such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, or stretching that can help alleviate pain. When you are active, it is easier to get rid of feelings of hopelessness that often set in for fibro sufferers. I encourage you to keep a pain journal or log, try new things, and share your story with others, because if you are living with fibromyalgia, you can be an inspiration to others.