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Finding my Way Through the Fog of Fibromyalgia

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Do you find it difficult to explain, “Fibro-Fog” to your friends or family. I would like to share my definition of fibro-fog. I hope it helps you to explain to your spouse, family or friends what it is like for many of us living with the challenges of fibromyalgia.  And for many cancer patients dealing with the same issues, after/during treatment.

Fibro Fog is like opening a file cabinet to locate information, only to find the folders not in any familiar order. You attempt to organize the folders alphabetically. After checking how you’ve done, you notice the folders are still in disarray. Repeatedly you try to reorganize until you’re tired of trying. If you’re disgusted with yourself you may stop and leave it for another day or try to continue. When opening the folders you find that many are missing the contents. The folders that have their contents seem to be in the wrong folder. Confused, you aimlessly search through folders and begin mixing their contents with other folders in an attempt to classify the contents in their proper folder. You do this over and over, back and forth to no avail. At some point you ask yourself, what was I looking for? No matter how hard you try, you just don’t remember.

When I’m in this Fog, it’s hard to communicate with others. Finding the proper words is difficult to say the least. And forming interesting conversation is practically unattainable. What I’ve learned is to set daily goals. Write them down starting with the easiest to the more challenging. The key is to keep your expectations pushing the edge just short of failure. Then as time goes on, I build on my successes. Eventually I find my way through the Fog.

How about you– Can you share ways you explain, “Fibro-Fog” to those in your life that just can’t seem to understand what it is like to live in the fog.

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Are There Precipitating Factors or Events Leading to the Onset of Fibromyalgia?

Many Fibromyalgia physicians believe there are precipitating factors that lead to the onset of fibromyalgia.

Primary fibromyalgia occurs spontaneously in individuals not suffering from any related or triggering condition. There is no clear cause for “primary fibromyalgia,” but over time the severity of primary fibromyalgia is affected by factors such as sleep deprivation, muscle atrophy, emotional stress, coping style, the weather, and of course, the pain itself. The course tends to be chronic, with unpredictable periods of greater and lesser severity.

Secondary fibromyalgia occurs in patients whose pain was preceded or triggered by another illness, such as arthritis, bursitis, or lupus, or from abnormal structural conditions such as disc tears and herniations, and nerve entrapments. The course and appearance of secondary fibromyalgia is very similar to primary fibromyalgia. The picture is complicated because the patient’s other illness or illnesses continue to cause symptoms and require treatment. It is often a difficult medical challenge to know when a triggering factor, such as a disc herniation, should be addressed surgically or whether other pain control methods should be pursued. A great many patients with fibromyalgia respond poorly to surgery, so it has been suggested by some experts that, for fibromyalgia patients, nonsurgical options should be the first course of action when conditions permit.

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Fibromyalgia Exercise Prescriptions–But What About the Side Effects?

Fibromyalgia exercise prescriptions should be individualized based on your initial functional capacity, severity of pain and fatigue, and tolerance to the problems that activity causes you. A general rule is to do less than you think can be accomplished. Success is a powerful reinforcement and increases the likelihood of maintaining an exercise program.

Inactive persons with FM should begin at a low intensity that is comfortable and pleasant, performing just 5 to 10 minutes of exercise, 3 or more times per week (daily when possible). Recognize that you may have some tolerable short-term increases in pain and fatigue. High intensity, stop-and-go activities and sporadic workouts should be avoided, since overloading sensitive muscle tissues may result in a ‘flare up’ of FM symptoms.

Participate in a variety of activities to avoid repeatedly stressing the same muscles and joints. If you exercise at an appropriate intensity, frequency, and duration, the symptoms caused by the physical activity should resolve within the first few weeks of exercise.

This diagram below provides a graphic representation of a proposed dose-response curve for exercise.

Continue reading Fibromyalgia Exercise Prescriptions–But What About the Side Effects?