Fibromyalgia is difficult to handle on any given day, but when experiencing a flare up it becomes even more difficult to function. A flare up can be triggered by doing too much, stress, or even a medication change. My three biggest triggers include cold winter weather, stress and overdoing it on my good days (which I do way too often). These are just a few examples. When a person enters into a fibromyalgia flare all the symptoms get worse and exacerbate intensity of symptoms. New symptoms may even appear. Everyone who has to survive these flare ups soon learn strategies that will help them cope. Flares can last up to a few hours, days and even months. My worst flare lasted over a month. It was a very difficult time and wore me out physically and mentally. Fibromyalgia flares can result in limited abilities or result in being incapacitated leaving one bed ridden. Below are items that I keep readily at hand to get through a fibromyalgia flare up.
My flare up kit includes:
1. Heating pads. I have several heating pads of various sizes. There have been times where I have had all three in use, depending on the severity of my flare. I have a heating pad that is meant to be used on the shoulders and neck. These two areas are problematic when I enter into a flare. Even though the heat doesn’t relieve the throbbing aches long term it helps while in use. I get a short break from the pain. Anything is better than nothing.
2. Heated blankets. I often get chills when I go into a flare. Having a heated blanket takes the chill out of my body. It also acts as a full body heating pad if I have jumping pain all over my body.
3. Weight blanket. I absolutely love my weight blanket. My boyfriend gifted this to me for Christmas one year. If you know anything about weight blankets, you know there are many benefits in using them with or without fibromyalgia. The weight from the blanket is known to help reduce anxiety. For those of us with fibromyalgia, we know anxiety can become an issue. For myself, I find the weight helps relieve my leg pain. I’ve heard from others that the weight causes further pain, so they don’t use a weight blanket. The use of a weight blanket with be dependent on your body. Using a weight blanket is also supposed to help one sleep better. I have noticed when I use the blanket I in fact do sleep better.
4. Travel neck pillow. Often times when I flare my neck becomes very painful and my muscles in my neck get weak. Having to hold my head up feels unbearable. I use the neck pillow to allow my muscle to relax and not have to work as hard to hold my head up. This is easy to take with you anywhere!
5. Medications. Make sure you have extra medications that you may use to remedy any flare up symptoms. For example, when I flare i often get flu like symptoms which can be relieved with over-the-counter Advil cold and sinus pills. Keep any other remedies you use available such as bio freeze spray.
6. Ear plugs and a mask. I often get sensitive to noise, and light. If i try to lay down during the day I may use a sleep mask to cover my eyes. I have also just bought some ear plugs to try during the day if sound bothers me. Sometimes even the vehicles driving down the street is too much noise to handle.
7. Compression gloves. I bought a pair of compression gloves to try. When i flare my hands often ache in every joint possible. Lots of people I have spoken to love their compression gloves. They even have compression socks to help with foot pain. I’m still experimenting with the gloves to see if they make a difference.
8. Comfy clothing or soft pajamas. Comfy clothing often brings one a feeling of comfort. During a fibromyalgia flare I often have sensitive to clothing. i rather be in pajama bottoms or sweatpants then a pair of jeans.
9. Water. Drink lots of water. As I type that sentence, I realize I should take my own advice. Water is important to drink for everyone but can also help during a flare. I find adding lemons or lime to water makes it more desire able to drink.
10. Music. I always have found music soothing and relaxing. I often will turn on music while I relax. Research often states music has the power to reduce pain and anxiety. We often hear about music therapy for children with disabilities. Why wouldn’t it help with people with fibromyalgia?!? Give it a try. What do you have to lose?!?
11. I was going to stop at ten, but I’m going to add one more thing to the list. Do you own a pet?! They can greatly help us through hard times – even a fibromyalgia flare. Did you know petting a dog or cat, can reduce levels of cortisol in your bloodstream, thus lowering muscle tension that may be contributing to pain levels?!! Research says spending even ten minutes with a dog can reduce a person’s anxiety levels. Interesting, isn’t it?!! Dogs are often used at therapy pet for these reasons.
What would be in your flare kit? Everyone’s flare kit will look a little different. Maybe your flare kit includes a book instead of music!
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