Quality of Life in Fibromyalgia Patients
by Manjit Saluja
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, which may last for a long time. Pain is the major symptom along with aches and tenderness, stiffness of muscles, joints and soft tissues, along with sleep disturbances. Though it is chronic, it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles or other tissues, but can cause significant pain and fatigue, & can interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities. Though the pain tends to move from one part to another with varying intensity, Fibromyalgia is not progressive.
The chronic pain, may lead to poor sleep which significantly affects quality of life. This impacts both physical and mental health. The chronic pain may also lead to depressive and anxiety symptoms, resulting in low health related quality of life.
Quality of Life is the general well-being of a person or society, defined in terms of health and happiness, rather than wealth. It includes both the positive and the negative aspects of Life.. It is a broad concept incorporating the physical health, level of independence, social relationships, personal beliefs, and their relationship to salient features of the environment in a complex way.
The treatment of Fibromyalgia requires a team approach with the doctor, physiotherapist and most importantly you. Self care is critical in the management of Fibromyalgia.
This could be done by following certain rules:-
1.Exercising :- One of the most common non pharmacological treatment is reducing the pain and improving the quality of life is exercising. Though pain and fatigue may pose a difficulty in exercising, patients must try to be physically active. While in pain patient's avoid to exercise, but patient's should remember that exercising with Fibromyalgia is not only safe, it is one of the best things patients can do to help themselves. Several studies have demonstrated positive effects of exercise program in improving quality of life in patient's with Fibromyalgia. Meditation and yoga may be helpful in reducing pain and improving quality of life. Exercising regularly is the most effective treatment of Fibromyalgia Patient can start with gentle exercise such as walking, which can be gradually be increased and intensified such as cycling.
2.Sleeping well :- The chronic pain in Fibromyalgia leads to poor sleep which significantly affects quality of life. Getting adequate sleep will significantly help in reducing fatigue. When in pain patients tend to change their sleeping routine. It is advisable that patients sleep at their regular time daily so that they feel fresh the next day. If there are problems in sleeping, patient should inform the treating doctor.
3.Managing stress :- In times of pain flare patients should learn to manage their stress. You may save your energy, by combining errands at home, taking breaks while doing strenuous work like cleaning at home, shopping and cooking. You could even try some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises. The principle is to learn to use your energy wisely. Incorporate resting into your daily schedule. Avoid working continuously for long duration.
4.Healthy eating :- There is no scientific evidence that any food may affect your aches and pains. But it is important that you make healthy dietary changes in your diet. A healthy nutritious diet will make you feel better. Incorporate nuts, milk, fruits and salads into your daily diet. At the same time maintain a stable weight.
5.Social outings :- Fibromyalgia can impair patient's cognition as well as social and occupational functioning, disrupting relationship with family and friends. Consider joining a support group like MAI. Talking with other patients may be helpful.
6.Spiritual activities :- Above all indulge in some kind of spiritual activities. Social and spiritual activities can improve the quality of life. This could be in the form of reading, attending prayer sessions, joining some bhajan groups etc.
Though external measures like medication, healthy diet, active social life, not only bring relief but make life much easier. But besides tangible tools, spirituality though intangible may help in de-stressing and bringing a certain degree of mental peace. Spirituality would also help in coping with illness to a certain extent.
There is no single treatment that works alone to relieve fibromyalgia. Along with the prescribed medication use these self-help strategies, and work towards maintaining a positive attitude and learn to find the best way to manage your symptoms and provide you the best life quality. If you haven't found this combination yet, do not get disheartened. Keep trying until you find what works for you.