Don’t get me wrong – I know that people can mitigate their condition or even ‘recover’ from being under the constant slavery of Fibromyalgia. The main thing I have an issue after over 10 years with Fibro is the latest ‘silver bullet’ – the one thing you need to do to recover from Fibromyalgia.
I’m going to cover the things I’ve tried and also what doesn’t work in my case. I’ll also be honest and say what things have helped, but in reality I don’t hold out for a Fibromyalgia Cure (and neither does my doctor, if I’m honest).
Fibromyalgia Cure 1: Exercise
With even the NHS here in the UK calling exercise a ‘miracle cure’, including a 30% reduction of the chance of an ‘early death’ (though I’d like to know what a ‘perfectly timed death’ is!), it’s no surprise that exercise is now encouraged in the fight against Chronic Pain.
Interestingly that article says that doctors ‘used to think it worsened Fibromyalgia’ – but they don’t now. Medical opinion changes.
How I react to exercise
Whenever I have tried to do exercise I actually find my pain gets worse. ‘Impacting’ exercise like running jars my joints and gives me head pain. Swimming, which should be a good all-round aerobic exercise for the body, gives me really bad neck pain. I can’t do ‘front crawl’ (never have) as I can’t regulate my breathing, and backstroke stresses me out in case I hit people or the wall. I used to enjoy swimming but it’s really really tiring and I don’t get any health benefit from it. Long walks mean I feel out of it for the next day.
I can do exercise if I don’t mind a high pain day the next day. This is certainly no fibromyalgia cure in my case.
Fibromyalgia Cure 2: Vitamins/Supplements
This was a recent experiment of mine. This is the view that with certain supplements (usually expensive ones) you can sort out, say a gut infection or excess bugs/viruses that might be lurking there and a course of 3-6 months of supplements will make you ‘pain free’.
I’m not prescriptive. If this works for you, then I’m glad it does. But in my case, I still had the same level of pain medication and had to add another 10+ tablets to my average day. Given I hate the number of tablets I already take, I really didn’t like this additional input. Alongside these tablets I was also advised to have protein shakes. I did all this for 3 months with literally zero impact.
The only supplements I take now are Magnesium and Vitamin D. No these haven’t cured my Fibromyalgia, but I know I have higher pain days if I don’t take these.
Fibromyalgia Cure 3: Change Your Brain
This school of thought says that something deep in your past or present is affecting your body so much it ends up in pain. I’ve had this idea even be suggested at church.
If this ‘thing’ is found, then through training your own mind you can ‘deal with the past’ and unlock the secret reason you’re in pain.
The resulting treatment might be counselling, or CBT, for example. The reason I don’t like this argument is that I wake up in a haze of Fibro Fog most days and I hurt. That’s my physical state before my brain’s even working. While I agree that past hurts can influence human behaviour, to say it is the only thing causing my daily pain negates the scientific research behind Fibro – e.g. that it is a central nervous system disorder.
Dragging up my past is likely to put me in more pain because I’ll have additional emotional strain on top of the physical and psychological strain I already have. If counselling/CBT is useful, then great, but it should be part of an overall picture of treatment – e.g. alongside medication, magnesium supplements, nervous system examination. It should not be used in isolation, denying the physical due to over-emphasising the mental or emotional.
Fibromyalgia Cure 4: Diet
The last one I want to cover here is diet. What I am happy to exclude from being criticised is going wheat- or gluten-free because I haven’t tried it yet and I have heard from a few Fibro sufferers that going gluten-free has helped massively.
What I mean by diet is that some may tell you that to eat more of X, or of Y will reduce your pain. In my experience this isn’t true. I don’t have more pain on days when I have a takeaway pizza than on days when I have a healthy home-cooked vegetable meal. Eating right is important for various functions of life. But having tried to up lean meats, reduce carbs etc I haven’t noticed any pain impact. I have probably helped my health on other levels by having more chicken in my diet, but that doesn’t innately make it a chronic pain benefit.
I will have to try gluten-free at some point, but I’m pretty sure I can’t afford to at the moment as GF prices are substantially higher than non-GF.
TL;DR – Why Do I Disbelieve?
I disbelieve mostly through experience gained. By altering my diet, I’ve lost weight and that’s a good health benefit, but I still hurt. I get 10 minutes walking in a day, but it’s a huge effort and I’m tired afterwards. And going down the ‘random supplements’ route simply did not work for me.
You have to find what works for you. But be led by systematic trial-and-error rather than the latest amazing discovery which will change Fibromyalgia for ever. Avoid anything with superlatives in the description! Do share anything you can which has a positive benefit, but be wise and don’t change too many ‘life variables’ at once else you won’t know which variable improved or worsened your health.
I will be open to suggestions on approaches and try some new things, but through reasoned, logical testing. I hope to find something that works, but I have a lot of my Fibro journey left ahead of me.
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