Fibromyalgia is a long term condition that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body. Scientists estimate that about 5 million adults in the United States are affected by fibromyalgia.
Although men and boys may have the disorder, it is seen more often in women.
Most people with this condition are diagnosed during middle age.
When severe fibromyalgia pain intensifies, each activity may seem more difficult. Everyone experiences outbreaks differently, and there may be different triggers depending on the person.
What is an outbreak of fibromyalgia?
Some people with fibromyalgia may experience certain symptoms regularly. However, the pain associated with fibromyalgia tends to fluctuate and worsen.
When symptoms temporarily increase in number or intensity, this is called an outbreak or crisis.
Outbreaks can occur without warning and are more likely to occur if a person with fibromyalgia is stressed or under a lot of pressure.
An outbreak can last from a few days to weeks at a time.
Triggering Potentials of an Outbreak
Certain factors can trigger an outbreak of fibromyalgia, such as changes in:
- physical or psychological stress
- to sleep
- temperature the weather
Stressful events, surgery or accidents can make fibromyalgia symptoms worse. Outbreaks can also be caused by lack of sleep or by doing too little or too little exercise.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Outbreaks
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is generalized pain. The condition causes pain, stiffness and tenderness in the muscles, tendons and joints. Individual symptoms differ from one person to another. Symptoms may vary in intensity and appear and disappear.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:
- pain throughout the body, especially in the back or neck
- Extreme sensitivity to pain, bright lights, smoke and certain foods
- stiffness when staying in the same position for long periods of time
- muscle spasms
- extreme tiredness
- poor sleep
- trouble remembering, learning, paying attention and focusing like “fibro fog”
- speak slowly or confused
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Someone with fibromyalgia may sometimes feel clumsy, dizzy, very hot or cold, painful periods, restless leg syndrome, and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet .
Daily pain and sleep prevention can cause problems at home and at work. The stress of dealing with a condition can also lead to anxiety and depression.
Doctors used to refer to sensitive points or triggers that cause outbreaks, but they are no longer widely used. The American College of Rheumatology has new criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Although some of the triggering factors of fibromyalgia are beyond a person’s control, others can control and prevent outbreaks. It is often easier to prevent an outbreak than to treat one.
Below you will find several lifestyle changes and suggestions that can help alleviate symptoms and ease the daily life of fibromyalgia.
Keep a record of triggers
The triggers of fibromyalgia vary from person to person. Keeping track of activities, meals, sleep, and duration and symptoms of fibromyalgia can help identify specific triggers.
Recording these activities could highlight the patterns of what triggers an outbreak. This could help a person with fibromyalgia figure out how to best manage or avoid these triggers.
Reduce stress and relax
Stress worsens the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Many people with fibromyalgia experience stress and feelings of depression, anxiety and frustration. People can benefit by trying to avoid or limit exposure to stressful situations and have time to relax.
Although techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can help control stress, it is important that people with fibromyalgia do not completely avoid physical activity. People with fibromyalgia who stop working or stop exercising do not work as well as those who stay active.
Options to help with stress management are available and include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and feedback from qualified health professionals.
Get enough sleep
Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia. It is essential that a person with fibromyalgia get enough sleep.
Sleep hygiene practices that can help you go to bed and get up at the same time every day and limit nap during the day.
Sometimes people with fibromyalgia have restless leg syndrome and pain that can interfere with sleep. A doctor may recommend treatments for these problems, which can help you sleep well.
Regular physical activity may decrease or improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Although exercise may increase the symptoms of pain early, it can help prevent pain over time.
Recommended activities for people with fibromyalgia include walking, cycling, swimming, and water aerobics. Maintaining good posture habits, stretching and relaxation exercises can also help.
For maximum effect, it is recommended that people with fibromyalgia start with light exercise, such as walking, and develop resistance and intensity slowly.
Resistance and strengthening exercises can improve muscle strength, physical disability, depression and quality of life. They can also improve fatigue, function and increase mood in people with fibromyalgia.
Don’t do much
While regular physical activity is recommended to help control the symptoms of fibromyalgia, it is crucial to limit excessive effort not to do too much.
Moderation is the key. If a person with fibromyalgia does a lot on days when his symptoms are good, he may end up having worse days. However, on bad days, people should try to be as active as possible. Keeping activity levels as uniform as possible provides the best result.
Although a specific diet is not recommended for people with fibromyalgia, there are certain foods that seem to make fibromyalgia symptoms worse.
Try an elimination diet, in which you exclude certain food groups each week to see if symptoms improve. If symptoms improve after discarding a particular type of food, they may be related to fibromyalgia symptoms.
Maintaining proper nutrition will help boost energy levels and prevent other health problems.
Fibromyalgia and Social Security
Many people with fibromyalgia are unable to work or resume a normal standard of living.
For these people, Social Security resolutions in the United States dictate that while a doctor or osteopath can determine that the disease causes a medically determinable disability (MDI), the condition will qualify as a disability for Social Security payments.
This means that a doctor should be able to confirm:
- a history of widespread pain
- a minimum of 11 points after the exam
- Repeated examples of at least six fibromyalgia symptoms
- evidence that other explanations or conditions have been discarded.
Social Security Administration (SSA) requires medical documentation that dates to 12 months related to the disease, and may conduct interviews with family, friends, neighbors, and former employers to confirm the diagnosis.
In some cases, SSA may fund a consultation to confirm the debilitating nature of the disease.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia Outbreaks
Treatment of fibromyalgia attacks can be complicated. Avoiding developing an outbreak in the first place is less complicated than treating it.
Fibromyalgia has several symptoms, meaning that no treatment will fix them all. Also, a treatment that works for one person may not work for another.
Several treatments must be tried in different combinations before anyone can find a plan that works for them. The treatment plan will often be a mixture of medications and lifestyle changes.
Medications that can help reduce fibromyalgia pain and improve sleep include:
- anticonvulsant medications
- Naltrexone, which is an anti-opioid medication, may be helpful.
Conversational therapies, such as CBT, aim to change the way a person thinks about things and can help fight fibromyalgia in a more positive way. Psychotherapy can also help someone with fibromyalgia understand and treat their thoughts and feelings.
There is little evidence that alternative treatments like acupuncture, massage and aromatherapy help with fibromyalgia. However, these methods can help with relaxation and stress.
Summary and Conclusions on Fibromyalgia Outbreaks
Changes in medication and lifestyle can help treat severe fibromyalgia and reduce the likelihood of outbreaks. Fibromyalgia is a disease that can be treated and people with this disorder can live a full life.
Engaging in regular exercise is one of the most effective ways you can prevent bouts of fibromyalgia and can control pain.