How to get through fibromyalgia flare

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Preparing for Flares with Fibromyalgia

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia you’ve probably heard about flares or fibro flare. Or instead, you may be wondering why sometimes your condition gets much worse almost out of the blue. What exactly are fibromyalgia flares, what symptoms may occur, what are the common triggers, and how can you best cope the fibro flare?

What is fibromyalgia flare?

For most people with fibromyalgia, the symptoms vary from day to day. Over time there are periods when the symptoms are at their worst, and other times when they are much milder (short-term or long-term remissions.) These periods when symptoms become much worse are referred to as fibromyalgia flares (an exacerbation of fibromyalgia) and are a major component of the condition. Despite the frequency of flares, however, we know very little about them. Unlike day to day variations, flares usually last several days or weeks.

Preventing a Flare


“Take 10 minutes every day to jot down things like what activities you did, what medication you started, how well you slept, or if you ate something new,” Ostalecki suggests. “Journaling is the key to discovering your flare triggers, so you can try to avoid them.” She notes that it can take up to 48 hours for an event to trigger a fibromyalgia flare-up, and if it’s not noted somewhere, you might not remember or recognize the correlation.

Standing tall

Learning and maintaining proper posture is crucial to managing fibromyalgia, because posture errors that push the head too far forward or cause slouching can lead to muscle fatigue, followed by increased tension and pain

Give yourself a break

As Murphy’s Law predicts, flares often strike at the worst possible times. But no matter what you have going on or how important it is, if you try to push through the pain, you’ll pay for it. Try to cut yourself some slack instead; ask for help from others, extend deadlines if possible, and take care of your flare first. Do all you can to set your stress level to “low” when your fibromyalgia kicks up?

Just say no

When a flare hits, protecting your personal boundaries becomes even more critical. No, you can’t take on an extra project at work. No, you can’t make 120 cookies for the bake sale. No, you can’t babysit the neighbor’s kids. A firm but polite refusal, minus any explanations or excuses, puts you in control of your schedule and gives you room to say “yes” to what your body needs.

Pace yourself

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that people with fibromyalgia who keep going, but at a slower pace, weather a flare better than those who put a halt to activity altogether. You need to know your limits and listen to your body. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Same goes for exercise. Gentle stretching, a leisurely walk, or some easy yoga moves can keep you moving enough to help reduce the pain.

Medicate proactively.

Following your medication schedule as prescribed can help you get pain under control and keep it there. During a flare, it’s better to take your pain medication like clockwork — even if you feel as if the last dose is still working rather than waiting for pain to return full force before taking the next dose. At the same time, resist the temptation to double up on meds or play pharmacist: Both over-the-counter and prescription pain medications taken at levels just slightly above the recommended dose can cause serious side effects, including liver or kidney failure. And some medications (including herbal remedies) can be dangerous when combined. If your meds aren’t cutting it, call your doctor and ask for advice or some additional treatment options.

Lots of Specialty Foods

If you have food allergies or sensitivities, keeping the right foods well-stocked is even more important. It can be extra hard for someone else to shop for you. It’s a good idea to look into grocery delivery services so you have an emergency back-up plan. The last thing you want to do is make yourself feel worse because of what you eat!

Preventing Fibromyalgia Flares

It’s not always possible to prevent flares but there are things you can do to reduce their frequency and/or severity. Review the common triggers and think about what you can do to modify these. For example, if you suffer from insomnia, talk to your doctor about treatments (this does not necessarily mean medications and cognitive behavioral therapy has shown promise.) Some people have sleep apnea which requires treatment.

Stress management

Stress is a common trigger, and there are many things you can do to improve your stress management. You may want to begin by checking out these 70 ways of reducing stress in your life. It’s not usually possible to control the weather or holidays, but you can still prepare ahead, and optimize other measures for reducing flares such as being very careful with your sleep schedule. If your symptoms are tied to your menstrual cycle, hormonal therapy (or even procedures such as endometrial ablation) may help.

Keeping a journal

Keeping a journal is very helpful for finding patterns in your disease, such as your common triggers. You may want to chart your diet, exercise, sleep patterns, and give a number between 1 and 10 for the severity of your most common symptoms. In time you’re likely to see several patterns, which in turn may help you lessen your flares. Flares are something most people with fibromyalgia will have to deal with, but with time and effort, you may be able to identify your triggers to reduce the incidence or severity. Prevention works much better than treatment, and at the current time, we have few specific treatment options for addressing the exacerbation of symptoms which go with a flare.

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Reference: Verywell Health

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