Tips for Caring for Patients with Fibromyalgia
October 12 2021
What is Fibromyalgia and 5 Tips to Help FMS Patients
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is known for its often debilitating chronic pain and fatigue. Sufferers of this often misunderstood condition can feel isolated and alone in their suffering, which can take a toll on their mental health as well. For many FMS patients, just being able to accomplish daily tasks can be difficult. But by providing assistance and helping with chronic pain management, Fibromyalgia patients can lead full and happy lives.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that is characterized by widespread pain that is accompanied by fatigue, sleeping disorders, memory issues and mood issues, among other symptoms. Scientists and researchers don’t understand what causes FMS, though it is believed that it may be genetic or triggered by a stressful or traumatic event. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men are; however, it is unknown if there are scientific reasons or if it is because men are less likely to report long-term pain they experience to their doctors. Many FMS sufferers are also diagnosed with other forms of chronic pain and/or chronic conditions, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, depression and other rheumatic disorders such as lupus or multiple sclerosis (MS).
What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia has many different symptoms. However, there are three primary symptoms, which are:
- Widespread, chronic pain: This pain is described anywhere from a dull ache to stabbing pain. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of the body and above and below the waist.
- Fatigue: FMS patients awaken tired. Their sleep is often disrupted by pain and other sleeping disorders.
- Cognitive Difficulties: This symptom is commonly referred to as “fibro fog.” FMS impairs the ability to focus, pay attention, concentrate and can even cause memory loss or lapses.
Fibromyalgia often coexists with other conditions including but not limited to:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Migraine and other headaches
- Bladder issues
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
- Nutrient or vitamin deficits
- Sensory issues
- Immune deficiencies
Care Tips for FMS Patients
While the cause of Fibromyalgia is still unknown, there are several ways in which pain and other symptoms can be managed.
Helping with an Exercise Regimen
Even though it can be painful to exercise, FMS patients are encouraged to get up and move. This not only helps strengthen muscles, but it can promote better sleep. Exercise can also help to elevate mood, thanks to the release of the feel-good hormones known as endorphins. Exercise should be tailored to each FMS patient as each person suffering from the disorder experiences different symptoms to different degrees. Generally, the exercise should be low impact, such as yoga, aerobics, walking or swimming.
Ensuring a Healthy Diet
Getting a nutritious diet is important for everyone. However, some FMS patients experience nutritional deficits, and getting a diet high in vitamins and other nutrients can be key in helping improve their overall health. FMS patients should also avoid highly processed foods and aspartame, and should limit their caffeine and alcohol intake as these foods can amplify their pain.
Aiding in Better Sleep
Helping FMS patients get better sleep can help reduce pain and improve their immune system. Aiding in better sleep can be done through a variety of techniques, including establishing a bedtime routine, practicing meditation or deep breathing to relax the body and mind before bed, and making the bed more comfortable such as with the use of memory foam. A doctor may also prescribe a sleeping pill to help those who have issues falling or staying asleep.
Help Improve Mental Health
Improving the mental health and reducing stress of FMS patients can help reduce their pain and promote better sleep. Encourage the use of relaxation techniques and self-care practices to promote better mental health. Also encourage FMS patients to go to social engagements or to enjoy their hobbies to help improve their mood. Talking to a counselor or therapist can also be helpful as well as taking medications for depression and anxiety.
Daily tasks such as showering, dressing, chores and meal preparation can all be difficult for FMS patients due to the level of pain and fatigue they are experiencing. Be sure to offer your help. Remember to offer first and don’t just jump in and do something for them. Treating FMS patients like they are incapable of doing things can only lead to emotional hurt which can add to their mental health issues. When offering assistance that requires touching the patient, be aware of their tender points (spots on the body that when lightly palpated can cause excruciating pain). If touching these spots is unavoidable, such as during a transfer, be sure to let them know where on their body you will be touching them beforehand, so they can prepare for the increased pain they will temporarily experience.
Fibromyalgia is a life-long chronic pain condition that alters a patient’s life in many ways. By gently encouraging them to stick to their prescribed regimens, they will be able to effectively manage their chronic pain, fatigue and other wide-ranging symptoms.
If you or your loved one suffer from Fibromyalgia and require care or assistance, All American Care offers expert care in the comfort of your own home. Our highly trained professionals can assist with medical needs as well as daily living tasks. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today!