The Fibromyalgia Roller Coaster Ride

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is an increasingly recognized chronic pain illness that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue and sleep disturbances. The most common sites of pain include the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle and hands, but any body part can be involved. Fibromyalgia patients experience a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane over time – similar to a roller coaster.

More than 6 million Americans, 90 percent of them women in the prime of their life, suffer from FMS and sometimes struggle for years before being correctly diagnosed. Symptoms usually appear between 20-55 years of age, but children are also diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome.

Even if you make every effort to do what you are told in the area of medical, physical and mental management of fibromyalgia, you will still have good and bad days. Your aches, pains and fatigue may vary in intensity, frequency and location from day to day, often for no apparent reason.

If you are having a mini flare-up, think back over the past 24-36 hours to assess if your physical activity or stressors could have set it off. This information can help you in the future to better balance your activity and life stressors.

When you initiate treatment (medication and/or physical therapy), you may experience a decrease in fatigue, pain and soreness. It would be nice if this trend continued on a steady basis, but it usually doesn’t work this way. The road to healing is filled with peaks and valleys -- good and bad days.

When you are having what appears to be a “breakthrough,” try to keep an even keel emotionally and physically. Don’t try to make up for lost time and do everything just because you are having a good day. The flurry of increased activity may cause a significant flare up tomorrow. Follow through with your treatment plan in a steady, incremental way.

I hope this information helps you to smooth out the roller coaster ride of fibromyalgia.

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