Today is a moderately high but not overbearingly painful pain day, and I don't always like to take prescription medications when I can get some relief with more natural or over-the-counter (OTC) methods (aka: unnecessarily damage my liver/kidneys and/or waste the good pills when I don't need to, lol).
Now, as someone with no medical training and a terrible memory, I have a hard time knowing what OTC medication to take for what, but as a person with a chronic pain syndrome, I probably should. So, as any thirty-something would do, I took my questions to the internet! Check out what I've found below!
As a follow-up to last week's blog about the things we use to manage our Fibromyalgia symptoms, I wanted to share some of the things I use to help me with my chronic pain.
I personally, have used acupuncture in the past, and it did help lower the severity of my Fibromyalgia symptoms, so this is the next thing I want to discuss in our ongoing 'Ways to Manage Your Fibromyalgia' series.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal treatment in which long, thin needles are inserted in strategic acupuncture points at various depths long the meridians or pathways of the human body to restore balance to our Qi (pronounced "chi") and allow the body to heal itself.
Now I personally, have a HUGE fear of needles, but there is so much information out there about the benefits of acupuncture for any number of illnesses, and I liked the fact that it allowed the body to heal itself rather than introduced something new into my body to attempt to mask a symptom rather than treat it, so I tried it- and I have to tell you, the first time did not go well.
In continuing our managing Fibromyalgia series, our next tip is using essential oils/aroma therapy to help manage your Fibromyalgia symptoms. I'm obviously not a doctor, and any new treatment method should be discussed with a medical professional, but there are more than 17,000 medical studies on essential oils that prove their therapeutic benefits for a number of health concerns—among these are chronic pain, depression, and stress, so it's worth discussing. Because each essential oil is different, you can customize your experience and combine specific oils to maximize the healing medicinal properties that you need to help battle the symptoms that you have.
Essential oils are essentially plant extracts, and contain the essence of an herb or plant. It is the healing properties of these plants that are infused into these oils, and it’s not the scent that can make you feel better- it's the herbal/healing components that you take in. Chemicals from the herb get absorbed, these chemicals eventually reach your limbic system — the network of nerves in your brain that controls your instincts and emotions- so using essential oils can alter your perception of pain and potentially improve your mood. After using, you can feel the affects in as little as 30 minutes, and the affects can last hours and can be easily reapplied as needed.
"Listen to your body" is the mantra of the chronically ill. We say this to ourselves and to each other, we know it to be true, and yet oftentimes we feel guilty for resting when we need to or prioritizing sleep over other things. There is something about our culture that prides itself on long hours and never-ending to-do lists that leaves those of us who need the occasional respite from this "all go, no quit" world feeling like we're not quite doing enough. Because of this, a lot of Spoonies tend t0 over-extend themselves, thus making their symptoms worse and perpetuating the cycle, when pacing yourself, resting as needed, and getting more restful sleep will actually help keep your flares to a minimum.
"Different" isn't something humans deal with very well (to put it politely), and having different physical limitations is something a lot of people just "can't understand." But really, they say you can only understand something from your own perspective, so if you've lived a relatively healthy life, it makes sense that you wouldn't really be able to grasp living a life in which you never really feel your best, a world where you may need to rest after showering or doing another "simple chore."
Now, I'm not saying this excuses the deluge of unhelpful and often hurtful comments that tend to come from these types of people, and I'm definitely not saying that having people like this in your life doesn't make things like the guilt described above even worse.
What I am saying is that not everyone will get it, but those of that do get it are here to support you- and to back you up with some facts.
When we first mentioned on our social media channels that we were starting a blog series about the different treatments/techniques/lifestyle changes Spoonies make to help them manage their Fibro symptoms, lots of responses came pouring in! Last week we talked about massages, and over the next couple of weeks we'll be talking about a different treatment each week, and one of the top responses we got from our followers was light stretching/yoga for managing Fibro pain, so we're tackling that topic in today's blog.
Like most people with Fibromyalgia, I do a lot of different things to manage my Fibromyalgia symptoms, and one thing I like to do at least once a month is get a nice 60 or 90 minute full-body massage. I find it helps loosen-up my muscles, eases my pain, and also usually helps me get a good's night sleep afterwards since I schedule my massages in the evenings and then go home and go to sleep right afterwards.
There is a lot of information out there about how massages can help relieve Fibromyalgia pain and other symptoms (seriously, a quick google search will bring back about 6,090,000 results) and I would have to agree. I first started experiencing chronic pain when I was 14, and just a few years later I discovered massages, and I've been going regularly ever since.