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How can I treat myself?

It is worth facing up to the fact that fibromyalgia can be severe and may last for several years. The good news is that many people have learnt to manage their condition so that they can continue to live their lives enjoyably. People with fibromyalgia tell us that the following advice does work and will help if you persevere.

Learn more about fibromyalgia and find out if there is a local support group in your area.  Irish organizations, such as Arthritis Ireland, offer educational classes and can refer you to support groups. 

Your local support groups can often provide a level of help and advice that you might not find anywhere else, And they can put you in touch with others who have had similar experiences and can understand what you’re going through.  Sharing the frustration of having this condition and knowing that other people out there have similar problems can help some people enormously.

Encourage your family to discuss your condition with you. Your illness will be affecting their lives as well and they will need to know how and when to help you.

Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.  Don’t drink alcohol, tea or coffee late at night, as these may disturb your sleep. Relaxation and gentle exercise can help.

Exercise regularly. At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it regularly often decreases symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, cycling and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.

Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. That may mean learning how to say “no” without guilt. But try not to change your routine completely. People who quit work or drop all activity tend to do worse than those who remain active.

Learn to take time out for yourself. Reduce muscle tension. Learn to relax your mind and your muscles. Playing music or an audio tape about relaxation techniques can also help.