Managing the Stress and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex illness that typically progresses over time and comes with Flare-ups of pain and tenderness producing symptoms that include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscles spasms
  • Diffuse pain, but especially in the back or neck
  • Extreme sensitivity to pain, bright lights, smoke, and certain foods
  • Stiffness when staying in the same position for long periods
  • Poor quality sleep, not feeling rested in the morning
  • Poor memory, poor word finding, and “brain fog”
  • Slow or confused speech
  • Frequent headaches and migraines

Did You Know?

Fibromyalgia (FM) affects more than 5 million Americans and takes most people many years to get properly diagnosed.

There are many potential underlying contributing factors to fibromyalgia that contribute  to “flare-ups.”

Flare-ups occur without warning and can last anywhere from days to weeks.  

What are the potential triggers for fibromyalgia flare-ups?  

  • Diet
  • Stress level including physical, emotional, and psychological stress
  • Sleep quality
  • Inflammation
  • Hormones
  • Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies
  • Toxins

Stress is at an all-time high these days. So, stress management strategies to either prevent or ameliorate fibromyalgia and the pain of fibromyalgia are more important than ever. Learning how to manage stress with fibromyalgia has helped many people reduce the pain and flares of FM. 

How Does Stress Trigger Fibromyalgia Flares?

Stress is estimated to contribute to over 90% of all physician office visits.  Stress makes every illness, imbalance, disturbance in our body, and our health worse. When we are under stress we are in a fight or flight response.  This is in direct opposition to the heal and digest response of our nervous system that we need for healing.  

How do we get into the rest and digest phase of our nervous system or the parasympathetic nervous system and what does this have to do with fibromyalgia and stress management?

Stress Contributes to the Flares of Fibromyalgia by Causing:

  • Insomnia and reduced sleep quality and quantity
  • Increased perception of pain
  • Increased reactivity
  • Inhibition of our frontal cortex and the ability to think logically and clearly

7 Step Program to Manage Stress and Pain of Fibromyalgia

1. Give Yourself Permission to Rest, Relax and Heal

This is a critical first step in our fast paced world of to do lists, texts, emails, etc. It is important to listen to your body when you have a chronic illness, Realize that doing more may come at a big cost, and that cost for many people with fibromyalgia is a worsening of symptoms the day after “overdoing it.”  Many people with FM struggle with energy issues. It is critical to rest when your body is tired.

Dr. Morgan Recommends the Following Tips in His Practice:

  1. Trim your to-do list to the bare minimum
  2. Alert your contacts, family, friends, etc that you need some downtime for your health.
  3. Give yourself permission to turn your phone off, stop answering emails, etc until you feel better.
  4. Sleep when you are tired.
  5. Ask for help. This step is critical!

2. Ask for Help

Almost 90% of Fibromyalgia patients are women. Many of those are mothers who are used to taking charge, being the one who takes care of everyone, and the one to whom everyone else turns. However, it is critical that you ask for help and learn to accept the help that is offered. It takes a village for us to thrive, and asking for help is how we build those bonds and networks.

3. Hydration

Adequate clean, non-fluoridated water is the most essential ingredient for health.

Dr. Morgan Recommends:

  1. Drink 1 Quart of Water in the morning when you wake up.
  2. Drink 3 Quarts total over the course of the day. 

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most critical nutrients that every human needs and is most lacking in our modern diet.  Did you know that magnesium calms sore muscles, aches, and pains, relaxes us, and often helps us sleep better?  

Many people with fibromyalgia report a reduction in the tension in their bodies after using magnesium.

In this study, 40 women with fibromyalgia were given topical magnesium chloride. They applied it daily for 4 weeks with a significant reduction in their pain of fibromyalgia.

Dr. Morgan’s Magnesium Tip:

Magnesium is my number one recommendation for fibromyalgia stress and pain management. Magnesium is best taken in either Epsom salt baths, a topical spray, oil, or orally as magnesium threonate.

5. BioFeedback

There are many forms of biofeedback available in today’s world. This alternative therapy for fibromyalgia works to reduce stress using a machine that helps show you the manner in which your body responds to stress. The goal is to determine how your body reacts to stress, and that knowledge will teach you how to control it in an automated manner.

6. Diet

Many fibromyalgia experts believe that the underlying major contributing factor that causes flare-ups is Inflammation. Inflammation is caused by a variety of contributing factors, but the one major one that you can control is your diet.  

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Main Principles

  • Eat organic as much as possible
  • Eat unrefined and unprocessed foods as much as possible
  • Include fresh herbs and spices in every meal
  • Avoid major allergens in your diet as much as possible and consider an elimination diet.  
  • Avoid sugar and sugar alternatives (stevia is Ok)
 

7. Exercise

Exercise is critical and especially to combat the pain of fibromyalgia.  The key is just getting started. It can be as simple as walking around the neighborhood for 30 minutes.  Remember to silence your phone, or better yet, leave it at home, and go out alone for some fresh air, peace of mind, and exercise.  Make this into a daily habit and get into the routine of moving your body to drop that stress and pain of fibromyalgia.  

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Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

Dr. Morgan Camp M.D.

Dr. Morgan is an expert in Functional and Integrative Medicine with a Strong Emphasis in stress related illnesses like anxiety and insomnia. In addition to his 20 years of work in Functional Medicine, he has expanded his practice to include work on the deeper aspects of our being that point to the root cause of our illnesses working with Mind Body Wellness, Energy Medicine, and Healing with Consciousness.

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