Just a blog to make you think deeper. I attended an online fibromyalgia summit not long ago. Dr. Whitten spoke along side Dr. Murphree. Both these gentlemen treat fibromyalgia patients in the United States. The information in the video I watched made me think on a different level.
Food for thought…
We all know there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but what about treatment options ?!? Finding a treatment or routine that helps improve your fibromyalgia symptoms can be tricky. Looking at my own journey I have realized I haven’t really ever found that treatment route that works – especially when symptoms appear when they feel like it. I feel like no matter how much I try to prevent fibromyalgia symptoms , I’m fighting a losing battle. I’ve come to realize that my body will do what it wants to do and it’s hard to rein it back. You learn to deal with your symptoms day by day as you never know which symptoms will be prevalent that day.
Fibromyalgia is considered neurological at this point, so how do we rewire our brain so we don’t feel pain so intense?
If fibromyalgia is really caused by our brain misreading signals, how do we think we will be able to control it or change it? Ever been driving to the store and your mind wanders and you find yourself thinking about other things? “I really should finish that assignment for work. What should I buy at the store? I should really be cleaning. I can’t forget my best friends birthday on the weekend.” We usually don’t even realize our brain is thinking up thoughts without us thinking. Interesting, isn’t it? This is our chatty brain talking. If we cant even shut off our chatty brain, how do we make our brain not misread signals ?!! Technically we can help limit our mind from wandering by “living in the moment.” It takes a lot of redirection of our thoughts. If our brain is stuck in fight mode (fight or flight) how do we rewire our brain so we can increase our pain threshold? I asked the following two questions to most health care providers I have seen and I have never been giving any answers. I don’t have the answers to these questions. Just a few questions for you to ponder over.
*”Pain threshold is the minimum intensity at which a person begins to perceive, or sense, a stimulus as being painful. Pain tolerance, is the maximum amount, or level, of pain a person can tolerate or bear.”
1. How does one raise that pain threshold without causing excruciating pain, chronic fatigue or flares to arise!?!
2. How does one create a successful treatment plan without the pain going out of control?
I was often told to raise the pain threshold level by slowly adding time to activities or tasks, but I found this unsuccessful. Example: adding 30 extra seconds a week to your walking ability may help raise your tolerance slowly. Some people may add time to their activity every few days, but I found this to be physically demanding on my body causing increased pain levels to arise. For myself, this strategy would just backfire and cause me to flare, even if I stopped before I hit my pain threshold line. After three years of trying to incorporate this strategy, I can say it has failed. No matter the time increments I can’t seem to get passed being able to walk longer distances. Don’t forget, everyone’s body will respond differently. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it wont work for you. Give it a try! You can alter this strategy however you want.
Health care providers mentioned using yoga to help raise the pain threshold. Yoga incorporates meditation, physical poses along with mental training. Many people without fibromyalgia take part in fibromyalgia and find it relaxing along with many increased health benefits. These benefits include increased muscle strength, flexibility, energy, weight reduction and energy. However, for people with fibromyalgia it can become very difficult to get in the “zone” to concentrate enough to take part in yoga. Being able to meditate can be difficult on its own, but factor in chronic pain and fatigue levels makes it even harder. For myself, I found yoga too slow for my liking and I couldn’t even get into half the yoga poses due to pain levels increasing. How does one find the benefit of yoga with difficulties concentrating and have limited motion /flexibility to get into the yoga poses is beyond me. I even started with the easy poses and had a difficult time. Yoga may benefit some people, but it wasn’t for me.
There may be more strategies out there, but these are the only two I was ever introduced to.
If our pain, fatigue or flare ups increase drastically during treatment routes, I personally think that this is a failed treatment route. I’m not a believer in the “no pain, no gain” saying when it comes to fibromyalgia. First of all I live with daily pain, why would I do something that causes further pain to result!? My goal is to decrease pain levels not cause further pain from forming. When we live with pain levels that are 10/10 why would I want to “add to injury”?!? In my eyes, a successful treatment route should cause limited or no pain at the time being done. A successful treatment plan should not cause a flare up to form the next day. If it does, it means you have gone over your pain threshold level and pushed too hard. I am a firm believer in stopping before one hits that threshold level. You may want to try to push just slightly above that line to help try to heighten that threshold level. Successful programming or treatment routes should improve your ability to function and move better and not result in more pain. After-all the goal is to improve quality of life not hinder it further!
In my experience, health care providers do not seem have current up to date information on fibromyalgia or have a lack of knowledge of the condition. Don’t get me wrong, some are very knowledgeable on fibromyalgia. The lack of understanding and knowledge often can lead to hands on treatments – which are often too aggressive. Example: A massage therapist may not even know what fibromyalgia is and when you go for a massage may not apply gentler pressure while massaging your back or legs – resulting in extreme pain levels. Many healthcare providers overlook the common issue in fibromyalgia – our bodies are hypersensitive. Dr. Whitten also mentioned this in his discussion.
In order to help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, we must find the right combination of routes for ourselves. This process can be very exhausting. Don’t give up! Try everything you can possibly try. Don’t be afraid to speak up if a health care provider mentions possible strategies that have maybe failed you. They may even be able to provide you with ways to modify those strategies that may help you find success!