Living with Fibromyalgia
Ed Scully - Soft Tissue Specialist
Fibromyalgia is a painful condition with specific areas of tender points throughout the
body. The condition is also associated with fatigue, morning stiffness, headaches,
restless legs, numbness in hands and legs, irritable bowel and that’s just to mention
a few. There is no solid evidence to the cause of this condition, but research would
suggest that it is a sensory condition that essentially amplifies the processing of
painful stimuli. Fibromyalgia literally means pain in your muscles fibres ( Fibro =fibre,
my = muscle algia = pain).
As a clinician that deals with this condition on regular bases, the first thing I would
say to anyone living with someone who has fibromyalgia is to try and understand the
condition as if it was happening to you! Have you ever had constant burning or sharp
pain? Can you imagine having that pain throughout your body for at least three
months. Not to mention the associated headaches, sleep disorders and other related
symptoms. I can guarantee you, that you too would be tired, worn out and
frustrated. This condition is often misunderstood and can leave the person feeling
down and helpless. The good news is, it can be managed.
There is a mind field of alternative treatments out there, but it has to work for you.
Diet and exercise play a key role in the management of fibromyalgia, but the first and
most important thing is SLEEP. The only way you’re going to be able to motivate
yourself and stick to a plan, is if you can get a good nights sleep. The fibromyalgia
tender points respond well to massage and will give your body the break it needs to
take control of your life. Regular massage by a skilled professional who knows the
areas of tenderness, but more importantly is able to relate to the person and
understand what they are going through is crucial. A lot of the clients I see in the
clinic are relying solely on a concoction of strong painkillers. This can be a big
mistake! I know pain medication has a role to play in fibromyalgia, but in a controlled
manner and as part of a treatment plan, not “the treatment plan”.
A lot of the clients I see with Fibromyalgia have been through or are going through a
lot in their lives. For instance, one particular lady is a mother of two, worked hard all
her life and is caring for a family member who was diagnosed with a severe illness
last year. She has suffered from Fibromyalgia for over six years, but getting by with
medication. Caring for her mother and focusing all her energy on others, she began
to regress. To look after others you have to be able to look after yourself. On her first
appointment, her muscle had become so hypersensitive that the least bit of pressure
was excruciating pain. She was worn down and feeling hopeless. My job was to
reassure her and get her out of pain. To this day, she has her slot with me every
week and I can safely say we haven’t had a week where she has been in as much
pain as that first day.
The key here is pain management, it doesn’t take much to aggravate fibromyalgia
and stress is the biggest instigator. So one of the most powerful things you can do
for fibromyalgia is to make the choice that you are going to take control.