Because feelings of helplessness and hopelessness exacerbate pain, empowering patients to take charge of their medical self-care must be the cornerstone for fibromyalgia treatment programs. Many healthcare providers recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy programs that correct destructive ways of thinking and behaviors that worsen pain and disability, and thatempower patients to cope more effectively with chronic pain. Such programs often teach a variety of stress-management and relaxation skills, and include family education as well.
Most people with fibromyalgia try a variety of complementary and alternative medical approaches to pain reduction. Many find some relief with heat therapy, gentle massage, stretching and relaxation training. Acupuncture, chiropractic therapyand stress management can alsobe helpful.
Finding an appropriate daily pace can be the greatest challenge for people with fibromyalgia. Adequate restorative sleep helps reduce pain and fatigue, and because sleep problems usually accompany fibromyalgia, people with this disorder must follow standard recommendations for improving sleep quality, including avoidance of caffeine and alcohol, developing a regular bedtime routine and sleeping schedule, and avoiding naps.
Exercise can help
People who live with chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia, often lead fairly sedentary lives. As fitness professionals know, nothing accelerates disability like a sedentary lifestyle! Muscles, joints and bones weaken, movement becomes more painful, patients move less than ever and the downward cycle accelerates.
Appropriate exercise, on the other hand, strengthens muscles and joints. It reduces feelings of stress, increases feelings of control and improves mood. Deeper restorative sleep has enormous healing powers, and reduces fatigue
An exercise program for clients with fibromyalgia should be individualized, and include input from healthcare providers. Walking, stationary cycling and swimming are good aerobic activities. Strength training and stretching are also beneficial when performed at appropriate levels.
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