Living with fibromyalgia can be like being on a rollercoaster. You never know what to expect day to day or even hour to hour. One minute you can be on that incline to the top of the rollercoaster, the next you are declining to the bottom. We are told fibromyalgia has no cure, but can a person with fibromyalgia go into remission? Believe it or not – the answer is YES!
The chances of going into remission are better if you have been suffering with fibromyalgia two years or less – with only mild symptoms. Sadly for most of us, our fibromyalgia symptoms are not mild. Experts state that if you have mild symptoms and can learn to control these symptoms, you have up to an 80% of going into remission with fibromyalgia. With fibromyalgia there can be short and long term improvements. When a person is able to find success in long term improvements, this phase is considered remission. For myself, my fibromyalgia symptoms are classified as moderate to severe – the chances for remission is extremely low.
There are many aspects to consider when trying to lower fibromyalgia symptoms. Your entire life is flipped upside down, and affects every aspect of your life. It can become overwhelming to try to “control” symptoms – as many of us find the symptoms control us. How can we try to put fibromyalgia into remission? Fibromyalgia does not improve without hard work and dedication. We must fight through every step.
Here are a few important areas that I feel should be addressed. Again, please remember the below are based from my personal experience living with fibromyalgia. The areas in which you work towards will most likely look differently then mine.
1. Work towards improving sleep
In all the research I have done over the years and attending fibro summits online by doctors who treat patients with fibromyalgia , trying to improve sleep quality is important. I know, easier said then done. I myself struggle with sleep issues and each year it seems to get worse. I often wonder if I could get the adequate amount of sleep needed if I would experience less fibromyalgia symptoms. Dr Liptan, who is the author of “The Fibro Manual”, states in her book that sleep is the first thing that needs to improve before any other treatment will even begin to work.
2. Mind and body practices.
At the beginning of my fibromyalgia journey, I would just roll my eyes at suggestions about improving mindfulness skills. After so many failed treatment plans, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and started to focus on mindfulness practices. The previous attempts at mindfulness practices always failed me in the past – or did they? I think having the wrong guidance by health care providers was the issue. I am currently in the care of a psychologist who is helping guide me in mindfulness strategies. The difference this round – the psychologist I see is trained to focus on chronic pain, while the others were not trained on chronic pain strategies. It sure makes a difference when you attend sessions and are not judged. In the past I was heavily judged for failed attempts and told I was not trying hard enough to improve my condition. With those judgements eliminated, mindfulness practices are making a positive change.
3. Lifestyle changes are necessary.
Many lifestyle changes need to take place when diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Obviously if one sits back and does nothing fibromyalgia can get worse. Learning to slow down and pace is one strategy that one must acquire. You may not be able to get everything done like before, but setting priorities will help you learn to pace. If you haven’t already you can read about pacing on my previous blog.
Dietary changes may benefit. There is not a specific dietary plan for fibromyalgia, but there are many foods out there that can cause symptoms to flare. I bought Dr. Liptan’s book ” The Fibro Food Formula”. Liptan explains how certain foods seem to make pain and symptoms worse. We are often told to avoid eating foods with aspartame, MSG, sugar etc. – basically your unhealthy foods. Alcohol is also listed to avoid or limit. For myself, I often find alcohol triggers my pain to go out of control. Sadly watching your diet is hard to do at times when fibromyalgia is attacking full force. When I am in a flare up, I tend to eat whatever is easy to make – usually full of ingredients that won’t benefit me further down the road. I package of mac and cheese is quick and easy to make – but not the healthiest choice.
For some people just adding in a bit of exercise helps their symptoms. For myself, exercise just brings on a huge flare up. I choose not to focus my treatment options around exercise as much anymore. I go for walks when I can. Exercise for fibromyalgia must be gentle. Walking, yoga, tai chi, etc. all are considered exercise.
Medications and supplements. I am not going to go into a huge discussion about either products. Some people benefit from medications prescribed for fibromyalgia while others find it creates too many side effects or have absolutely no change in their condition. One medication might work for one person and make life even more miserable to another. I was lucky to find a medication that has lowered my pain levels enough to at least get out it of bed and get a few tasks done throughout the day. I know many others who found the same medication I am on useless.
There are many aspects to consider. The above are just a few to mention. Everyone has to find the right combination for themselves. You can’t simply be on the same treatment route of someone else with fibromyalgia as it is very much individualized. Whatever routes you take, I hope you find the balanced combination to allow relief of symptoms and/or possibly allow you to experience fibromyalgia remission! Never say never, because I have seen a few people succeed. I often wonder if I had the right guidance early on, if I could have gotten my fibromyalgia under control. My symptoms were mild at the beginning, but due to covid restrictions taking place I was unable to access the early interventions at all.