Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Fibromyalgia

I have been living with Fibromyalgia around three or four years now.  It all started with a slightly dizzy feeling at work, my legs feeling weak and tired, my knees feeling swollen, and a general muscle weakness.  At first I assumed I had Lyme disease from walking my dog in wooded areas (we had a lot of trees around our house) since the symptoms lined up.  After numerous tests that kept coming back negative, my rheumatologist suggested Fibromyalgia.  I tried numerous prescriptions but my Fibro made me sensitive to side effects, so I always stopped taking them.  I just tried to deal with the pain at that point, but didn't do too much research into natural remedies.

After some time had gone by, and still not feeling great, I still wondered if I had a silent form of Lyme.  I saw a doctor who practiced Functional/Integrative Medicine and paid extra for a Lyme test (from Igenex - this test shows all traces and bands).  The test was negative but the doctor had a few good suggestions for muscle pain.

After we moved to the area we live in now, I saw a new family doctor.  Another round of tests were done and nothing showed up.  We revisited the Fibromyalgia diagnosis and ideas on how to deal with it.  I tried another medication, but it gave me bad side effects again, so we discussed some natural options like yoga.

Through all the family doctors, rheumatologists, the functional doctor, and my own research, I have learned to take little bits here and there and use what works for me more naturally.

Here are my top five tips that have helped me the most:

1.) Water, Water, Water
Drinking eight eight-ounce glasses really flushes out my systems and keeps me hydrated.  I can feel it if I am not hydrated enough and haven't had enough water.

2.) Vitamins*
Vitamins have been a huge help to me.  If I don't take them for two or more days in a row, I feel a big difference.  Here's what I take: Up & Up D3, Doctor's Best CoQ10, Doctor's Best Chelated Magnesium, Nature Made Super B-Complex, Up & Up Allergy

3.) Mild Exercise
Mild exercises like yoga, swimming, walking, and biking are suggested for fibro.  I had to slowly build up to exercise.  At first I started with 10-20 minutes of biking, yoga, walking, or swimming.  Now I aim for about 30-40 minutes but try not burn myself out.  Too much can leave me more exhausted and in more pain.  I usually do yoga or weights 2-3 days a week, and ride my bike the other 2-3 days [see my bike review here].  We will also walk together as a family with our dog after dinner if the weather is nice and I'm not tired.  I love the 10k-a-Day program.  I'm going to do a full post on the DVDS I use at home for exercise.

The DVDs I rotate currently for exercise, plus biking/walking

4.) Diet
I found a few sites about the best things to eat and avoid with fibromyalgia.  I've tried avoiding various foods groups (dairy, gluten), but I didn't feel a big difference.  The main thing for me was cutting way back on caffeine.  I drank coffee religiously before and have since given it up.  Now I will occasionally have one cup of green tea in early afternoon or the occasional decaf coffee (black, no sugar).  I've noticed a big difference in my dizziness since I cut back to almost no caffeine.  I can't remember which site had a great list of the best things to eat and avoid but I will do a separate post on those foods specifically.

5.) Sleep
At least 7-8 hours, but 8-9 is optimal for my body.  I had trouble sleeping for a long time when I was first diagnosed so I found melatonin tablets (Up & Up Melatonin) super helpful.  The muscle relaxers that were supposed to help me sleep were always too much for me.  Rozerem is a prescription melatonin that helped me at first but I found over-the-counter melatonin just as good.

I hope these tips are helpful for those of you who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  Not everyone's body is the same, so these tips may not work the same for everyone.

Please let me know in the comments below what has worked/not worked for you and if you suffer from Fibromyalgia, CFS, or something similar.  I would love to share more of my journey with others.

*Please discuss any medications you take, including vitamins, with your doctor.  This post is not intended as medical advice as I am not a doctor.*