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Family Guide to Fibromyalgia

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Family Guide to Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is thought to affect 1 in 25 people living in the UK. It has been found that more woman are affected by this condition then men but the symptoms and severity varies a great deal from one person to another and changes on a daily basis.

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain and tenderness all over the body. The pain and tenderness can be very severe and have a substantial impact on your daily life.

Most common Fibromyalgia symptoms will usually include widespread pain throughout the muscles, extreme tiredness and problems sleeping. Widespread pain is most likely to be in particular areas in the body and it will be an ongoing pain but can vary from day to day. Fatigue is a very common symptom in sufferers of Fibromyalgia and can be an extremely stressful experience, people may wake up feeling exhausted and it will not improve until afternoon. Sleep problems can also cause extreme tiredness even when a full night's sleep has occurred; this is due to not getting enough deep sleep to refresh the body and mind. There are symptoms that are less frequent which include; headaches, dizziness, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and an urgent feeling to pass urine.

Fibromyalgia diagnosis is rather difficult as symptoms vary considerably in different people and can often be similar to other conditions and problems. There are no specific tests that can diagnose the condition but normally will be identified by the signs and symptoms of the patient and a doctor's examination. Criteria for diagnosis are three to six different areas of severe pain or seven or more areas of milder pain throughout the body, no other reasons as to why these symptoms have occurred and if the pain has been present for more than three months. Other conditions can also occur with Fibromyalgia such as anxiety and depression, irritable bowel syndrome, sleeping problems and fatigue. All of which should be expressed to a GP for a quicker and a more reliable diagnosis.

Living with Fibromyalgia

Unfortunately there is no cure for Fibromyalgia but there is treatment and ways in which symptoms can be managed. GPs will help the best way they can with treatment and care. They will provide support and information and try to reduce symptoms as much as possible to make everyday tasks easier. Some treatments may work great for some people but will not essentially work for others; this is why GPs will inform sufferers of side effects and various treatments. Certain medication treatments will include painkillers, antidepressants, muscle relaxants and medication to help with sleep. As well as drug treatment a GP may try other therapies such as physiotherapy to relax muscles and improve posture or refer you to an occupational therapist to discuss managing everyday jobs without increasing pain. Other alternative therapies and treatments that may help reduce pain are massage and acupuncture.

Living with Fibromyalgia might be an exhausting, stressful and a frustrating time for some individuals. Support and reassurance will make the person feel like they can talk to others about the condition. Counselling or Fibromyalgia support groups can be exceptionally helpful in learning how to reduce stress. Exercise such as swimming and walking can help with muscle stiffness and endurance but can also help to release endorphins making stress levels decrease. Changing behaviour before going to bed for example, going to bed at the same time every night, trying to relax and avoiding caffeine can all have positive effects on sleeping problems. The most important thing to remember is that there is great support everywhere, from GPs and healthcare teams to friends and family.

Practical Aids

Fibromyalgia can affect a huge part of the individual's life and daily routine. Below are some specifically designed products to ease symptoms and help with the person's independence and self-esteem.

Bathing Aids

Widespread pain and stiff muscles can make it very hard to get in and out of a bath safely and sufficiently and difficulty reaching extremities such as the feet. Examples of useful bathing and washing aids therefore include long handled sponges, foot cleaners and grab rails.

Dressing and comfort aids

To ease the frustration of the pain and stiffness, fibromyalgia sufferers can use specifically designed products such as self-binding shoe laces, extra-long shoe horns, warming aids and support cushions.

Mobility Aids

Pain and fatigue can be a serious and a cause of immobility, which can lead to poor quality of life. To help the effects of this, walking sticks, crutches and walkers, amongst many other aids to mobility are great.

Therapeutic Aids

Therapeutic aids are great ways to help the body, so manufacturers have produced an extensive collection of items that can be used to relax and loosen muscle stiffness. Items include positioning aids, massage oil, resistive bands and exercise balls.

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