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This wonderful article is written by the husband of a Fibro sufferer. In it he speaks of all the battles and experiences from the ‘other point of view’.

I’ve Heard a lot lately of people saying their wife/ husband/Family, Just DONT get or WANT to UNDERSTAND FIBROMYALGIA. This is a Mans point of view, as 80% more women get it than men, and yes I have it too ( but have a higher pain Threshold.) I understand Fibro, most partners do not, this is their story, NOT MINE ( hope that makes sense )

It all starts with a diagnosis. Odds are, since FMS is poorly researched and poorly understood that you will both doubt this diagnosis because, “It couldn’t happen to us.” You’ll both search the web for other explanations and you’ll find them. Viruses, bacteria, the wrong food, not enough vitamins, not enough exercise, being overweight, depression, anxiety, menopause, age… the list goes on. Eventually you and your spouse will have to come to terms with the fact that Fibromyalgia is real and that she has it and, worse yet, that it’s never going away.

I know that when I first started experiencing symptoms of FMS my Family’s first thought was, “Is this real?” It’s not something I fault them for. When someone complains of pain and fatigue so debilitating that they can’t get around their house or even dry themselves after a shower and yet they look completely healthy it’s hard to take in. You see the person you married, energetic and pain-free and yet they are claiming to experience pain that sounds…well, unbelievable.

Then there are doctor’s visits. As you sit next to your spouse you no doubt hear doctors telling her to lose some weight, start an exercise routine, take some anti-inflammatories and stop worrying. There may be a part of you that wonders why she can’t do just that. No matter how much you want to support your spouse you want so badly for her pain to be so easily solved. But then it’s not.

When she tried to exercise she claimed the pain only got worse. The pills did nothing, she’s trying to lose weight, maybe she even does, but it doesn’t seem to help. Then there are tests. Blood tests, scans, x-rays. The answer is always the same, “Everything looks good. You seem completely healthy.” So, why doesn’t she feel completely healthy?

Finally you find a doctor with an answer, with a diagnosis and although you’re so glad that the searching is finally over the diagnosis seems almost worse than the uncertainty. Your spouse has a chronic, incurable condition. She will be in terrible pain for the rest of her life; she will be tired and sore, confused and achy. There’s a huge list of symptoms that the doctor spins off. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

You want to protect her, fix her, care for her like you’ve always done. And when you can’t do that you can’t believe it’s real. If it can’t be fixed it can’t exist. Or if it exists it will certainly go away, if only you and your spouse try hard enough, it must certainly go away. But your denial and hers do nothing for the pain and eventually you have to face the diagnosis.

Your spouse has FMS and because you love her, so do you.


When a person is diagnosed with FMS it’s often hard for their spouse to believe. Can a person who looks completely healthy really be as sick as they claim? Could they possibly be feeling all that with no outward sign?

It’s in this paradox of the ‘invisible illness’ that your trust in your spouse becomes so important. Because you can’t see it, and in fact no test outside of brain imaging can see it, you have to trust her. When she tells you she’s in pain you have to silence that voice in your head that tells you she’s just being lazy, she doesn’t want to the laundry, she would rather lie in bed and read. As much as reading may be preferred to doing laundry believe me she would rather be healthy and do chores every minute of every day than lay in bed for all time reading her favourite books or watching her favourite movies and dealing with this pain.

The first and most important hurtle that you’ll have to get over is that of trusting your spouse when she tells you she can’t do something. She may be able to push beyond her pain and accomplish the one thing, but she’ll likely be paying for it for days afterward.

It’s not just you that needs to deal with issues of trust. Odds are your spouse was a self-sufficient woman before she got sick. If she wanted something done she could just jump up and do it. She probably had a job and a paycheque. Suddenly she has had the ability to take care of herself pulled out from under her and she is probably scared and confused.

She knows that she is no longer the woman that you fell in love with, that things have changed and she is probably afraid, on some level, that you don’t want a spouse who’s sick. That you will grow to (or already do) resent her and her illness. It’s important for you to help her understand that you still love her. If the tables were turned and you got sick wouldn’t she take care of you? My husband says this to me whenever I wonder if my FMS is too much for him. I answer with surprise, “Well, of course!” and he says, “Why should it be any different?”

Roles at home

Before she got sick you and your spouse had a system. Things got done around the house, dishes cleaned, laundry washed, children fed by some collaboration or other. Maybe she cooked and you did laundry. Maybe she vacuumed and you cleaned the bathroom. Whatever roles you have lived with throughout your life together it’s all changed now.

The pain makes her ability to help around the house inconsistent. Odds are she feels guilty about this and wants to push through her symptoms and get everything done that she once did but by now you’ve seen what that does to her. You’ve seen the terrible flare ups and debilitating fatigue that comes from pushing too far and the last thing you want is for her to go through that.

But, you have a full time job maybe even two if your spouse had to quit hers. Is it so terrible that you get frustrated when you come home from work and dishes aren’t done and dinner is not made and the dog hasn’t been walked and the kids need baths and…and…and…?

It’s not so terrible. It’s completely normal. It’s nothing to feel guilty about. If and when you face feelings of resentment and frustrations, probably followed by guilt try (with most sensitive wording) to express to your wife that things aren’t working for you this way. If the old system is impossible than you need a new one.

Guess what? She probably feels terrible about it too. She hates seeing chores go undone that used to take her a few quick minutes. She hates having to cut out luxuries that your two incomes once easily afforded. She hates seeing you so exhausted from trying to take care of everything. Just like you she misses being able to sit in a clean house every once in a while and relax.

Sharing responsibilities

At times when this frustration is effecting you both take a few deep breaths and back pedal. Remember that no one is getting what they want in this situation. Try to remember that everyone’s life is harder now, that no one is at fault. Try to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes.

There is a way to fix this problem.

No one wants to be the healthy spouse saying, “Well, couldn’t you at least have done a few dishes?” No one wants to be the sick spouse saying, “I really need you to vacuum, I just can’t do it anymore.”

So, discuss what you can do. If she can still work a part-time job but is debilitated the rest of her free time as a result see if you can cut down living expenses to a point where you both feel comfortable so that she can still have good days. What chores can she do? Dishes? Brooming? Dog walking? What chores are infinitely easier for you?

Vocalize the things that are a necessity for you, the things that must be taken care of. Maybe you can’t stand the sight of dirty dishes but dust and weeds don’t bother you so much? Maybe she can’t handle the sight of an unmade bed. Take stock of the things that must happen and work together on being more laidback about the rest. Both your lives are so much harder now. If she’s having a rare good day and you are not too tired after work maybe just ignore nagging chores and cuddle on the couch.


Sit down together and discuss the things in your life that now cause more pain or frustration than they’re worth. For your sick spouse life has very little enjoyment left and the last things she wants is to spend her few good days exacerbating pain. You are under way more stress than you are used to with work, an ill spouse and all the extra responsibilities that entails. Where can you simplify?

– Maybe your high-maintenance yard can be replaced by no-maintenance shrubs and bark?

– Can a friend, family member or child help out occasionally with little things that would ease some of the weight in your mind?

– Can you afford a maid every week or two for heavy cleaning? Or a dog walker?

-Could you work together to prepare huge chillies or stews on your days off so that you don’t have to work too hard to have a hot, healthy dinner during the week?

– Could a friend pick up heavy groceries for you on their own shopping trips and drop them off on the way home?

There are many options for simplifying life that can lower your stress as a couple and make your lives easier.

Allowing your spouse to keep her dignity

There’s no way to get around it, being sick is an undignified way to be. The diagnosis and doctors visits are bad enough; with her blood being taken, her body being poked at and the constant barrage of invasive questions. The indignity of being sick will likely follow her everywhere.

She will sometimes feel guilty about her inability to help. She may feel unattractive and inadequate as a sexual partner when she has to stop or refuse intimacy because of her pain or fatigue. She may feel embarrassed about the high pain that requires her to be naked for hours at a time because she can’t handle the feel of her clothing on her skin. She may have times when she needs you to help her dry her hair after a shower because she can’t lift her arms.

Any combination of these things can leave your spouse feeling awkward, embarrassed, inadequate and undignified and though you won’t always be able to help her feel like the incredible woman you know she is there are many little things you can do that help her to deal with these changes in her life.

– Remember, and remind her, how much effort she puts into doing the things she does. It doesn’t matter that now ‘trying her hardest’ means doing only a fraction of what she could once do.

– Remind her that if you were the sick one, and she was healthy she would certainly be there to help you through it all.

– If you can help it try not to respond to requests for help with looks of indignation, exasperation or incredulity.

-Try to remember that it’s probably not easy for her to ask for help with things she could once do on her own.

– If you can try to sometimes precipitate her needs so that she doesn’t always find herself asking and begins to feel like a nag.

– When it comes to problems with intimacy and inadequacy try to imagine how it might feel if you were suffering from pain or incompetence. Be respectful and compassionate when she’s not able to enjoy sex. She probably misses it just as much as you.

– Try not to think of her as a sick woman but as the woman you love, who happens to be sick.

– Believe her whenever she talks about her symptoms. This will mean so much to someone suffering from an invisible illness.

Dealing with guilt

Ah, guilt. Most of us are constantly bombarded by it. We don’t exercise enough, make enough money, eat the right food, spend enough time with our kids, call our mother-in-laws etc.

In a situation where one spouse get’s sick you are both likely to discover whole new worlds of guilt. You will likely feel bad about your occasional frustration that your spouse can’t do the things she once did. Or about the fact that you can’t fix her no matter what you do. I know that for my husband one of the hardest things about my having FM is having to see me have FM and being powerless to stop it.

She will likely feel guilty about the fact that she can’t do what she once could. She may feel bad about how much time she spends lying down or about exercising instead of cleaning. She’ll hate watching you get tired from working more, either at home or at your job (maybe both), and blame herself.

Is any of this guilt rational? Nope. Neither of you can help that she’s sick and odds are most of the time you both do everything you can to make your lives easier to live. That doesn’t change the fact that you’ll both probably experience this guilt at some point.

The best medicine here, as with so many other aspects of relationships, is open, honest, level-headed communication. When you’re feeling particularly guilty express it. Try language like, “It makes me feel guilty when…” instead of, “You make me feel guilty when…”. Knowing that your spouse is feeling this guilt too will go a long way in being able to accept it in yourself.

Another option, instead of expressing your guilt whenever you feel it is to remind your partner how grateful you are that they do the things they do. Say thank you when she does the dishes, because odds are it hurt.

If you’re feeling like your extra work is going unappreciated let your spouse know in the kindest way you can. If she’s being pushy about something that’s gone undone let her know that you’re trying your best to do what needs to be done, but you’ve taken on a lot more responsibilities than you once had.

Be aware that you are both suffering

It’s very important for both you and your spouse to understand that though she’s the one that’s sick both your lives are very affected by this illness. Yes, her daily life is extremely hard now. People who suffer from fibromyalgia are 9 times more likely to commit suicide than healthy people. This illness is it’s own little hell but your life is harder now too. By staying by her side you’ve agreed to deal with FMS every day to a lesser but still very real degree. It’s important that your spouse appreciates the challenges that her diagnosis causes you to face and appreciates all that extra work you’re doing.

Maintaining your relationship

So your spouse is sick, she’s still your spouse. Your partner in everything. You still want to feel like a person in love. You both want to be able to share the affection and romance that you had when she was healthy. FMS certainly doesn’t have to take that away, but it is going to change the ways you kindle that fire.

Dinner and a movie may no longer be a feasibility, sitting that long can be hard on her body, the sound and lights of a movie theatre may cause migraines but there are plenty of other options. Try:

– Renting a movie and cuddling on the couch.

– Take a bath together.

– Go to bed 30 minutes early so that you can snuggle and chat.

– Make a date out of take-out food by eating it in bed even when she’s feeling well enough to sit at the table.

– Try to avoid ice cream or coffee as sugar and caffeine can increase pain and end your date early.

– Formal clothing can be painful for your fibromite spouse. Casual dates where she can where jogging pants if she has to will make her pain more manageable.

– Used to go dancing? Dance in your living room in bare feet (heels hurt!). Hell, do it naked (clothing can hurt) and sit down after one song so she can rest.

– Read to each other out of great novels or books of poetry.

Be flexible about dates and plans as her pain is unpredictable. She may even need to rest for a day or two beforehand to make a date possible if your plans are more adventurous (for her dinner out may be plenty adventurous now).

Or a date may need to be cut short. That doesn’t necessarily mean the romance has to end. If you go out for dinner and her pain causes you to go home don’t flip on the TV. Turn down the lights (easier on her eyes and more romantic) light a candle and whisper about your past and your future. Make her laugh, it will help her pain.

Getting time for yourself

Now, more then ever, you and your spouse need to come together and work as a team and working effectively together can sometimes mean spending a little time apart. Both of you need some time to relax and refresh by doing something alone. For you that doesn’t mean mowing the lawn while she’s inside and for her it doesn’t mean dealing with a flare-up alone. Take some time when you’re not completely exhausted to do something you enjoy. Take an hour to play video games, surf your favourite message boards, work out, cook, hike, have some drinks with your friends; whatever helps you de-stress. Encourage her to use some of her higher-functioning time to do something she enjoys as well. For her something this simple may even help to reduce her pain.

When your spouse has fibromyalgia your life and hers have changed forever. In many (okay most) ways these changes are challenging but you still have your whole lives together and there are many simple changes you can make and simple things to keep in mind that will keep your relationship solid and fun through this adversity. This hub is a start, and not everything will apply. You and your spouse should commit to finding personal ways to make your life better. You don’t have to fight against her illness, it’s not going away, so instead work with it and make sure you find ways to still enjoy the life you have, even if it’s not the one you were expecting.


[Website Administrator Note: Sadly I don’t have a source or any data about the origin of this article. I’m grateful to the author, and would like to be able to credit this article properly. So if you know or can verify the source then please let me know]

More and more research is being done into the possible links between trauma and conditions such as arthritis, lupus and Fibromyalgia. What I want to talk about here is how traumatic experiences in childhood may leave some people highly susceptible to Fibro in later life, and what can be done about it. On the way we’ll take a look at what trauma is, how it affects us in both mind and body, and meet three Doctors who have been instrumental in helping people deal with it.


What is Trauma?

Putting it very simply, trauma is what happens when you are overwhelmed by the fear you feel in a situation. When you cannot do anything to protect or save yourself and have no choice but to endure and hope to survive.

Despite what you might think, you don’t have to be a battle-hardened soldier in a war zone to come face-to-face with trauma. Being at home will do. Especially if that home is a place of violence, beatings, sexual assaults, anger or humiliation.

And it doesn’t have to happen directly to you – witnessing the type of incidents described above can leave someone deeply traumatised. Particularly if it happened to a loved one or parent

Also, trauma doesn’t have to be one single life-threatening event. Repeated abuse or neglect can cause equally profound traumas with devastating effects in later life. I’m choosing my words with some care here because I don’t want to give the impression that one kind of trauma is more valid or more important than another – they are not.

In fact, comparisons are rather pointless because it’s not the event so much as what you feel during the event that makes it traumatic. So many domestic trauma victims believe their suffering isn’t worth anything because it didn’t happen in a war zone or because nobody died. It is not that simple. Terror is Terror. Fear is Fear. It is our response to it that matters.


Blamed for being normal

For as long as I can remember we have been told that humans do one of two things when confronted with danger: we fight or we run. Either way we act to save ourselves and survive. Anything else is abnormal. A failure.

But that’s not the whole story. Let me introduce you to our first doctor: For many years Dr Steven Porges was the Director of the Brain-Body Centre at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and in 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory which has dramatically changed the way we think about trauma. The Polyvagal theory centres on something called the Vagus Nerve.

This nerve is one of the largest in your body, starting at the base of your brain and going down to wrap around most of your vital organs. In particular your heart, lungs, stomach and colon. It is thought that this is why we get so many ‘gut reactions’ to our emotional states. Your heart sinks, you get butterflies in your stomach, you lose control of your bowels etc. You feel these things because the Vagus nerve is affecting your internal organs as it responds to threats and danger.

Dr Porges’ theory looks at the different parts of the Vagus nerve and what they do. As well as acknowledging the Fight or Flight responses, Dr Porges outlines a third one: Freeze. Total immobilisation or ‘playing dead’ in order to survive. Trapped by an attacker (in whatever situation) breathing becomes shallow, heart rate plunges and digestion stops. You disengage and shut down until it’s over. In short, you dissociate.

You cannot stop this from happening. It’s controlled by an old part of your brain called the limbic system. By ‘old’ I mean that it evolved a long time before the more ‘human’ parts of our brains. We’ll be meeting two very important parts of the limbic system, the amygdala and the hippocampus, a bit later.

Unfortunately, society has not been quick to recognise this freeze response. In the first world war, soldiers who froze during battle were called cowards. Many were killed by firing squad for it. In the second world war they were ‘lacking moral fibre’ and imprisoned. After all, anybody with any guts would ‘stand and fight’ wouldn’t they?

Sadly, this terrible attitude filtered into society, meaning that any victim of violence who froze and didn’t fight back was ultimately blamed for what happened. It didn’t matter if the attacker was twice the size of their victim, or whether the victim was a woman or a child. Victims have been forced to carry the guilt for what happened to them, making the whole experience even more traumatic.

Now, I really want to make this point:

Freezing, when under attack, when you are scared, is Normal

Your body will do this for you and you cannot control it. It is especially important to understand this if you have ever had this kind of experience:

If you froze during your attack, you weren’t ‘being weak’ or ‘just letting it happen’. You actually had no control over this. Becoming immobile was your body taking over and making you stay still in order to keep you alive. This is an old evolutionary response – all mammals have it – and it happens to keep you from dying. Awareness and memory subside until it’s all over and you can recover and escape.

But that’s not the end of it.


The Bear in the woods

As we’ve seen, trauma is commonly thought of as something extreme. Something which happens during wars, natural disasters, major accidents, things like that. Big things. Things which most of us would be left shocked, distraught or changed by. Like being confronted by a very large, hungry bear when you’re alone in the woods, and cannot outrun it. Great big hairy trauma with an appetite!

But for children it’s an entirely different matter. Because for many children, the bear comes home every night, filling the home with anything from anger and violence to sexual abuse and neglect. Whether having it inflicted on them directly, or witnessing it done to a sibling or parent, the outcome is devastating for any child.

This brings us to doctor No. 2: Dr Vincent Felitti is the co-principal investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. This long-term analysis of over 17,000 adults revealed an astonishing relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults.

Importantly, the ACE study showed that traumatic emotional experiences during childhood are strongly linked to organic disease in later life such as severe obesity, ill-health (including depression, heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer), shortened lifespan and suicide.

So as you can see, the traumas we suffer as children affect us not just mentally but physically as well. And it can take years of struggling to cope before the body finally breaks down and illness sets in.

Just as an aside, think about this: According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2018 there were 61,500 children either on a child protection register or subject to a child protection plan in the United Kingdom. Children whose home-lives place them under threat of significant abuse. This figure only includes the children who have come to the authorities’ attention. There will be more who have slipped through the net. The effects of trauma for these children are irreversible. This timebomb isn’t ticking any more. It’s already gone off.


So what? I’ve got Fibro. It’s neurological, isn’t it?

Yes, but repeated or extreme childhood trauma can change our neurological structure. It’s time to meet your amygdala, a tiny part of your brain which is associated with threat identification and emotional memory. It’s the ‘fire alarm’ in our heads, and it can sense danger even before we become consciously aware of it.

Ever had the hairs stand up on your neck but not known why? That’s your amygdala doing its job. The problem is, extreme or repeated trauma can cause the amygdala to stay on high alert long after the threat has gone, and it won’t shut down.

Stress hormones actually kill cells in another part of the brain called the hippocampus. This bit looks after memories of things like facts and events. Damage to the hippocampus makes it harder for us to consolidate and keep our memories. You become anxious, confused and you have trouble remembering.

Does that sound familiar? Let me show you part of the conclusion reached by two researchers from McGill University in Canada, Lucie Low and Petra Schwienhardt:

“Exposure of the developing brain to perinatal stress, and glucocorticoids during critical periods of development may affect the long-term function of areas involved in stress regulation such as the hippocampus and amygdala and help explain the “fibrofog” and anxiety disorders prevalent in FM.”

(Low And Schwienhardt 2012)

“Glucocorticoids” in this instance means cortisol. This hormone is released whenever we feel stressed. Its primary job is as an anti-imflammarory, in case we get injured by the bear. However, the damage it does to neural cells in the hippocampus can significantly reduce our ability to learn and remember.

Now it’s time for our third Doctor. This time it’s Dr Bessel van der Kolk. I can’t keep typing that out every time so I’m going to call him Dr Bessel. I’m sure he won’t mind. Dr Bessel is the is a professor of psychiatry and founder of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also author of a superb book called ‘The Body Keeps The Score’. I recommend it to anyone affected by issues raised in this article.

For forty years Dr Bessel has worked with military veterans with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Indeed, that’s how his research started. But that same research has led him to working with other kinds of trauma victims, like the ones described above who have suffered trauma in a domestic setting rather than a military one.

As you would expect, his patients suffer with extreme mental and emotional issues as a result of their trauma. But they also suffer with physical ones as well. Because of this, Dr Bessel’s work embraces the concept of the ‘whole person’, working with both the emotional and bodily aspects of their condition. This is what he has to say about conditions like Fibromyalgia:

“When people are chronically angry or scared, constant muscle tension ultimately leads to spasms, back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain. They may visit multiple specialists, undergo extensive diagnostic tests, and be prescribed multiple medications, some of which may provide temporary relief but all of which fail to address the underlying issues. Their diagnosis will come to define their reality without ever being identified as a symptom of their attempt to cope with trauma”

(Dr Bessel van der Kolk 2014)

There’s one part of that which sticks with me: “…a symptom of their attempt to cope with trauma”. Is Fibromyalgia our bodies telling us that something much bigger is wrong?


So What does Trauma actually do to us?

When we talk about things like inner peace, balance and stability, we’re actually talking about something called Allostasis. This is the brain trying to maintain inner stability whilst things are changing all around you. Keeping all your bodily functions like heartbeat, digestion, breathing on an even keel. If you’re feeling technical, Allostasis is what the brain does to keep the body in Homeostasis, triggering all sorts of processes to keep the physical body from going into crisis.

When you get stressed, you are under something called Allostatic load. Think of it as an actual burden on your whole body as you try to cope with the ongoing stresses in your life. When you are under Allostatic Load (and most of us are) your body starts releasing cortisol and adrenalin into your system, as well as sugar. These are great if you need to biff a bear and run off, but when you can’t, and the stress continues, they just stay swimming around in your system.

The thing about Allostatic Load is that it is continuous and normally undetectable. Until things get really bad, you don’t know it’s happening.

If a threat is repeated long enough, or is severe enough, then, as we’ve seen, things change in your brain. If the trauma is repeated, or you don’t get a chance to discharge it and recover (i.e. calm down and get back to normal) then the brain can default to these states, staying like it long after the danger has gone away. You stay on ‘Red Alert’, and this causes things like:

  • Hypervigilance (always worried something’s about to happen)
  • Dissociation (Feeling like you are outside your body or parts of your body are disconnected)
  • Feeling you cannot breathe or get enough air in
  • Thoughts keep invading, and your mind keeps racing
  • Clumsiness, bumping into things (dyspraxia)
  • Difficulty staying present and grounded
  • Shaking or trembling without understanding why
  • Constant muscle tension leading to chronic pain

Recognise any of them? You should. Many of them are listed symptoms of fibro. And for many people, they all started in childhood.

There is no doubt that, as adults, were are shaped by our childhoods. The idea that education, both academic and moral, is everything we need for a secure future isn’t enough. The idea that children are resilient, that they ‘bounce back’ or that nothing affects them is not true.

What is true is that children are great at adapting. They will accept the world as given (let’s face it, they have little choice) and work around it. They will trust the grown-ups and take the blame, suffering the consequences. What is also true is that the identification of children as separate beings, as something other than the thinking, feeling, rational adults they have yet to become, is ridiculous.

If a child loses a limb or an eye it affects them for the rest of their lives. We can see how the consequences will carry forward into adulthood. That’s why we have laws keeping children from working in dangerous adult workplaces, and a culture which seeks to keep them physically safe.

But what about when a child loses the capacity to feel safe? When it loses, not a limb, but the capacity to trust its environment, the ability to evaluate things as they really are, and to know when they are in danger and when they are not? Whether it’s in a war-torn street in Syria, or an abuse-ridden home in the UK, the outcome is the same: that child loses something. For life. We just cannot see it from the outside.


Does this mean I’m stuck with it, then?

You cannot change the past, and if there was a magic wand for Fibro we’d all be waving it like windmills. But the situation is very far from hopeless. Let me give you three statements from Dr David Berceli, another trauma specialist who has had a lot of success in treating patients:

There is trauma – terrible things happen to humans

We can overcome trauma – because we are wired to survive

Healing Trauma is about meeting the body – bodily symptoms need a bodily treatment.


We’ve covered quite a bit of information so I think it’s time for a brief recap. What have we found out so far? Well, we know:

  • That in trauma, the brain is on constant ‘red alert’. This means the brain and the body behave as though the danger is constantly present, constantly happening.
  • That trauma, especially early trauma, has a great many physical effects on our bodies, many related to chronic and painful conditions.
  • That re-living the trauma (either through flashbacks or though remembering the events) can bring back many of these physical symptoms.
  • That many trauma victims feel cut off from their bodies.


This last point is key. Because, in treating trauma, what really seems to help is getting back in touch with your body – via your senses – and staying in the present. Learning that right here, right now, you are safe. Learning how to recognize the sensations and emotions of safety in your body. Learning to stay grounded in the peaceful ‘here and now’ to help stop our body fighting the battles of our past.

This may sound very simple, and in principle it is. But it works. We don’t have to relive the events, or talk about them, or even understand what happened to us. Indeed, some traumas may have occurred so early on that they cannot be consciously remembered. But your body keeps the score.

The ‘old’ part of your brain doesn’t do words. Or explanations. Or theories. It does feelings and sensations (terror, danger). It does reactions and responses (fight, flee, freeze). It does awareness. Right now it’s constantly aware of danger, because that danger, when it happened, was so intense or prolonged that it got ‘locked in’.

So the way to put that right is to give yourself some new experiences and make sure that your brain and body become aware of them. This means slowly learning to stay grounded when traumatic feelings and sensations are threatening to overwhelm you again.

The really great news is that it can be done. It has been done with hundreds of survivors by people like the three doctors I talked about earlier. Dr Bessel van der Kolk in particular is a world-renown pioneer in these treatments. Here are some basic techniques used in helping someone deal with their trauma.


  • Grounding – As confusion and distress are often accompanying symptoms it is useful to develop skills which enable a client to find their way back to ‘now’. Using sensory techniques such as Mindfulness to raise body awareness is very useful, particularly during flashbacks or times of extreme distress.
  • Personal Resources – Helping a client discover ways to support themselves away from the therapy room. These might include things like practical activities, utilizing their environment, or internal resourcing such as visualization, yoga, meaningful beliefs or imagined outcomes (focusing on the positive, of course!)
  • Body Process and Awareness – This is really a step on from the body awareness used in grounding and involves developing a better knowledge of yourself so that you can understand the relationships between thoughts (memories, for example), emotions and bodily sensations (trembling, chronic pain, etc). This is so they can become more aware of themselves holistically (i.e. that thoughts, feelings and sensations do not happen in isolation) and use this knowledge to monitor their needs and self-soothe when necessary.
  • Shame – Addressing a client’s shame is paramount. Sexual trauma especially can leave a client with catastrophic shame issues. Yet in some cases these are overlooked or treated as chronic depression, leaving the client feeling even more convinced that nobody really understands. It is essential that we do not to ignore this very important emotion.

The aim is to help you recognize what it feels like to be safe and calm. To relate these inner sensations to your environment, which is a safe place. This allows your brain to re-learn that the danger has passed and you don’t need to be on red alert right now.

This is a slow process, but it has to be. A trauma which has been taking place over months or years will need care and patience to overcome it. But it can be done.


Symptoms of Survival

Since I’ve been involved with the Wight Fibro Group I have heard the same questions which I berated myself with for years:

Why have I got this?

Why can’t I just get over it?

What’s WRONG with me?

I’ve watched people get stressed and upset because they cannot stop it happening, cannot seem to have any control over it, and worst of all, feel ashamed for having to ask for help because of it.

Absurd as it sounds, the symptoms of trauma are the symptoms of survival. They are your brain and your body trying to protect you and keep you safe and alive.

And you made it. It hurts, but you made it. You survived.

The thing to do now is to convince your survival systems that they can stand down. They don’t have to be tense, or keep releasing cortisol, sugar and adrenaline. They don’t have to keep running at ‘Action Stations’.

This process is not about miracle cures. Nobody is about to ‘pick up their bed and walk’ just like that. But it is about healing: A slow, gentle, caring process which helps you to trust your body, and your body to trust you.

All the best,




Chris Pilling M.Sc is a psychotherapist living and working on the Isle of Wight. You can find him at He is also a co-ordinator of the Wight Fibro Group.


Copyright © Christopher Pilling – not to be copied or reproduced without written permission



Burke N.N., Finn D.P., McGuire B.E., Roche M., “Psychological stress in early life as a predisposing factor for the development of chronic pain: Clinical and preclinical evidence and neurobiological mechanisms”., J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jun;95(6):1257-1270. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23802. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

Low L, Schweinhardt P., “Early life adversity as a risk factor for fibromyalgia in later life”., Pain Res Treat. 2012;2012:140832. doi: 10.1155/2012/140832. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Nutt DJ, Malizia AL., “Structural and functional brain changes in posttraumatic stress disorder”., J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65 Suppl 1:11-7.

Van der Kolk. B. (2014). “The body keeps the score”. Penguin. New York.

Wilson. J. P., (2006). “The Posttraumatic self”. Routledge. New York.

For many, one of the worst symptoms of Fibromyalgia is ‘Brainfog’. An inability to think clearly which leaves us embarrassed, vulnerable and sometimes scared. Not being able to remember, or understand clearly what’s going on around you can leave you feeling lost and hopeless. But it might be more normal than you think, given what’s going on around us.

Ask yourself this question: How many people are likely to want your attention today? Ten? Twenty? Fifty, maybe? That might be all the people you encounter face to face, but in truth it barely scratches the surface.
When you leave the house you will be swamped. Are you driving? Think about all the pedestrian crossings, other cars, road signs, traffic at junctions and roundabouts, indicators, brake lights, traffic lights? As soon as you get in your car the demands on your attention are changing second by second.

What about the shops? Bright signs wanting to grab your attention so they can tell you who they are, what they’ve got, why you need it and what it costs.

After all, “Your life will be emptier than a hermit’s address book without a PO490 Techno Bloaterburger! Get royally stuffed with a delicious cheesy topping for £49.99!”

And this is just the stuff you’re walking or driving past. Go on the internet for an hour and you’ll see another hundred or so ads. Sidebar ads. Popup ads. Little boxes wanting you to sign up so they can invade your inbox with some more. Read more

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition of widespread pain, fatigue and loss of restorative sleep. Other symptoms can include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), short term memory lapses, confusion, headaches, skin sensations/sensitivity, eye and jaw problems, and loss of balance. Many sufferers have the symptoms for months and even years, before being correctly diagnosed.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome was recognised by the World Health Organisation during a consensus conference in Copenhagen between 17th and 20th August 1992. Guidelines for diagnosis included the presence of chronic, widespread pain for at least 3 months, the exclusion by clinical tests of other chronic conditions (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus) and by painful reaction to pressure being applied to 11 out of 18 recognised tender point sites throughout the body (9 on each side).

It is now thought that Fibromyalgia is primarily a problem with an imbalance in the central nervous system, which leads to disordered sensory processing. There also appears to be a problem with blood flow to some parts of the brain and perhaps through muscle capillaries. FMS sufferers do not respond well to sustained activity, particularly repetitive tasks and in most cases regular employment cannot be maintained.

Treatments are aimed at reducing the effects of symptoms and it is often a matter of finding a combination of medications and therapies that suit anyone individual. An improved quality of life depends on the ability to understand the condition and to “manage” it. Exercise, whilst important, must be very gentle, and any build up in an exercise programme has to be very gradual.

FMS is recognised by the various benefits agencies and there have been successful instances of sufferers claiming long-term medical insurance payments and pensions.


Background and History

Fibromyalgia has been around for a long time, even though it has only recently begun to be better understood and more and more people are being diagnosed with the condition.

Fibromyalgia was first thought to be inflamed areas in fibrous tissue or fascia that surrounds muscles and bind them together. The fascia is like a glove covering a hand. The hand is the muscle, and the glove is the fascia.

Subsequently, sophisticated microscopic studies were performed, and they reported that there was no actual inflammation with the muscles or connective tissue. If we were to look at your muscles under a microscope, we would not see evidence of muscle disease; in fact, the muscles themselves function normally, or have normal strength. But your muscles are painful, and this pain has certain characteristics, which make up a specific syndrome, the Fibromyalgia Syndrome.

The cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown, but recent medical research has provided some clues about the factors that may contribute to this syndrome. We use the word ‘syndrome’ instead of disease because, unlike a ruptured disc, which can cause a pinched nerve, or arthritis, which is a disease of the joints, Fibromyalgia is not paralysing or deforming

Because this syndrome can cause symptoms resembling a pinched nerve or arthritis, those with Fibromyalgia often mistake it for a more serious disease. Even though Fibromyalgia is not a destructive disease, it causes painful symptoms that can vary from mildly annoying to severely incapacitating. And though there is no true inflammation, as recent medical research shows, the pain is very real, and definite characteristics can be identified with Fibromyalgia.


American College of Rheumatology develops criteria to make diagnosis

In the past 30 years, there has been a renewed interest in studying this condition. In 1981, Dr.Yunus developed criteria, which were used as a standard to objectively diagnose Fibromyalgia. A virtual explosion of research has occurred in the past decades, mainly in America. In 1989, investigators world-wide convened in Minneapolis, MN for the first international myofascial pain and Fibromyalgia symposium to present research and share knowledge. In 1990 the American College of Rheumatology devised updated Fibromyalgia criteria based on a multi-regional study. These criteria include:

  • History of Widespread pain lasting over three months.
  • Pain in 11 of 18 distinct tender point sites on palpation or pressure with a finger.

Other muscles and soft tissue areas may be tender in addition to these 18 areas described in the criteria. The criteria attempts to establish strict findings for diagnosing generalised Fibromyalgia in those who have muscle pain. In 1992, the Second International Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia Symposium was held in Copenhagen, Denmark attracting over 500 medical professionals throughout the world interested in Fibromyalgia. As a result of this symposium a document called the “Copenhagen Agreement” was formulated. Sufferers have used it to provide documentary evidence when applying for state benefits and to show unsympathetic GP’s that Fibromyalgia does exist and is not “all in the sufferer’s head”.

Fibromyalgia is now recognised as a distinct medical condition with characteristic findings. The Department of Health has produced a two-page document all about FMS; this is something to which all GP’s should have access. In 1995, a third Symposium was held in San Antonio, Texas, and a Fourth Symposium was scheduled in 1998 in Italy.

We are all aware that even at this present time there is still a lot of controversy about Fibromyalgia, why is this? This is because the original theory that an inflammation existed was incorrect; many doctors falsely concluded that Fibromyalgia was not a legitimate condition. These doctors suggested that the symptoms were “all in the head.” In fact, many physicians use the term “psychogenic rheumatism” to describe Fibromyalgia.

Routine laboratory studies and x-rays will all be normal with this condition. No disease is found in the bones or nerves. Because routine tests are normal does not mean that Fibromyalgia does not exist, or that all of the tests will be normal. Sleep studies, electron microscopy studies, muscle oxygenation tests, and other sophisticated studies have been shown to be abnormal in persons with Fibromyalgia. These tests are mostly carried out in America, where their health scheme is very different to our NHS. These special tests are very expensive. Therefore, they are are not considered part of the routine testing for individuals with muscle pain, even though they would be abnormal if the person had Fibromyalgia.

Just because there are no routine lab abnormalities, and the only readily observable indicators of Fibromyalgia are “tender points,” does not mean that there are no problems. Tender points and normal lab results are exactly what we expect to find with Fibromyalgia. To an experienced examiner, tender points are still the “signature” findings of Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia has been termed “the invisible condition,” because the muscles appear normal and no obvious abnormalities are evident when looking at an individual with this syndrome. Fibromyalgia muscles may look good on the outside, but they are definitely hurting on the inside.

Characteristics of Fibromyalgia

Anyone can get Fibromyalgia. Worldwide, up to 2 or more of the population has this condition, so it is very common, and it affects millions and millions of people. Currently it is diagnosed about 9 times more in women than men. Children can also have Fibromyalgia, although the condition usually first causes symptoms between ages20 and 45.

Normally, the symptoms have been present for years even though the diagnosis may not have been made until after ages 50-65. A rheumatologist or “Fibro Friendly G.P” can make an actual diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Many people have Fibromyalgia who have yet to see a medical professional and be diagnosed.

Fibromyalgia pain is usually described as a chronic, generalised aching, with certain areas that may feel like tingling, or sharp, stabbing sensations. The pain may radiate or travel to different locations. For example, areas of discomfort in the upper back may cause numbness and tenderness in the arm, even though there is no problem per se, in the arm.

A person with Fibromyalgia can often point to the exact area or areas of discomfort and note that a particular area is very tender to touch. The pain may “wander” to different sites. The pain can also flare up suddenly for no apparent reason. The muscles are not the only sore areas. Other soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and bursa can be sore.

Since different locations and sites can be painful with Fibromyalgia, it is important to always be certain that the cause of the pain or discomfort is in fact Fibromyalgia and not another medical condition.

For example, a common area of pain in Fibromyalgia is in the sternum or breastplate where the ribs attach. This is called costochondritis. It can mimic heart pain, but there is nothing wrong with the heart. It is always a priority to get the more urgent possible medical problems checked out first, by medical professionals.

Common Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia presents with many differing symptoms, many severe, some seemingly trivial. The important thing is to be aware of them so that you can describe them more accurately to your doctors allowing them to treat you better.

Above All Be Safe! Do not assume symptoms are from Fibromyalgia unless a physician has properly diagnosed you. The golden rule has got to be if you are experiencing any symptoms, please get them checked out by a medical professional ASAP. If you are not happy with what your GP has to say, you are perfectly within your rights to ask for a second opinion.

Physiological Problems

  • Recurrent flu-like symptoms
  • Recurrent sore throats/red infected
  • Painful lymph nodes under arms and neck
  • Muscle and joint aches with tender and trigger points-up to 18 of them
  • Night sweats and fever
  • Severe nasal (and other) allergies
  • Irritable bowel symptoms (IBS)
  • Weight change-usually gain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Severe PMS
  • Yeast infections
  • Rashes and itching
  • Uncomfortable or frequent urination
  • Interstitial bladder –cystitis
  • Chest pains- non cardiac –costochondritis
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD or TMJ)
  • Hair loss
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cold hand and feet
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Severe and debilitating fatigue
  • Widespread pain
  • Other chronic illnesses usually present (like diabetes, hypoglycaemia, asthma, lupus, ME etc).
  • Numbness in limbs
  • Painful swelling in the hands, legs, feet and neck
  • G.E.R.Ds (gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder)
  • Growing pains that started in childhood, and often continued into teens or adulthood
  • Widespread pain during/after physical exertion

Cognitive Function Problems

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Calculation difficulties
  • Memory disturbance
  • Communication difficulties (problems speaking, confusing words)

Psychological Problems

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Personality changes
  • Emotional lability (mood swings)

Other Nervous System Problems

  • Sleep disturbances (stage 4 sleep deprivation) sleep paralysis
  • Headaches
  • Changes in visual acuity
  • Numb, tingling, or burning sensations
  • Light headedness or dizzy spells
  • Feeling ‘spaced out’
  • Disequilibrium
  • Frequent unusual nightmares and disturbing dreams
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Difficulty moving tongue to speak
  • Severe muscle weakness
  • Susceptibility to muscle, tendon or ligament injury
  • Intolerance to bright lights
  • Intolerance to alcohol
  • Intolerance to sound
  • Intolerance to smell
  • Alteration of taste smell and hearing
  • Insomnia
  • Morning stiffness in muscles and joints
  • Restless leg Syndrome
  • Muscle spasms, twitching and jerking
  • Muscle tremor and shivering during/after activity or exercise

Please remember – Self-Diagnosis is No Diagnosis. Always consult your doctor. That way you can be sure of a proper diagnosis and proper treatment. Whilst we are here to help you make sense of what you are experiencing, The Wight Fibro Group are not doctors. The information above is there to help you identify and clarify, so that you can get the best from your doctors when you see them.

How is it possible for sufferers to wake up in the morning feeling more tired than when they went to bed the night before? Some sufferers do not realise that this problem is recognised as one of the major symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

Many people with FMS do not progress through the five stages of sleep. They may go to sleep easily, but wake up early in the morning (3 to 5am) unable to go back to sleep, or to go back into deep sleep. Others may have difficulty getting to sleep and then have interruptions during the night. 

Some even sleep through the night unaware of any difficulties, but may not be experiencing a deep restorative sleep. Other similar sleep scenarios are experienced by many people with Fibromyalgia.

Alpha-Delta Sleep Anomaly

This sleep disturbance in Fibromyalgia occurs in stage 4 of the sleep cycle. A disturbance in the brains’ electrical activity occurs, resulting in arousal, preventing the normal progression through the sleep cycle.

The sleep disturbance is referred to by researchers as the Alpha-Delta sleep anomaly, a condition in which brief periods of awake-like brainwaves (alpha waves) interfere with deep level (delta wave) sleep. It can be described as a state of partial wakefulness within sleep itself.

When this disruption occurs in stage 4 of the sleep cycle the body is not restored during sleep, this non restorative sleep is believed to be associated with the pain, fatigue and other symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

While the Alpha-Delta Sleep Anomaly is the most common sleep disorder found in Fibromyalgia patients, it is not the only one. John Russell MD. Studied 44 Fibromyalgia patient and discovered the following sleep disorders: Alpha- Delta sleep anomaly (43%), Sleep Apnea (25%), Sleep Myoclonus (16%)(involuntary arm and leg jerking during the night) and Teeth Grinding (14%).

The Link Between Serotonin, Sleep and FMS

Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter (a chemical that helps nerves transmit their messages) which is essential for the induction of deep level, slow wave sleep. An important component of the sleep disturbance in Fibromyalgia involves serotonin.

People with Fibromyalgia have been found to have low levels of serotonin in their blood and spinal fluid. At this time doctors are prescribing medications that increase the availability of serotonin in the body, with the ultimate goal being an improvement in the patient’s quality of sleep (more time in delta sleep) and reduced pain sensitivity.

More research must be done on the relationship between prescribed medications and the alpha-delta sleep anomaly. While these medications do influence the availability of serotonin the exact mechanism by which they operate is still not understood. There are still many questions to be answered.

How To Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep

  • Consult with your Doctor about the necessity of taking a medication to improve your sleep quality
  • If you are experiencing morning grogginess while taking a medication to improve sleep quality, take the medication as early as 6 pm
  • Allow time to wind down before bed
  • Follow a bedtime ritual (i.e. a warm bath, relaxing music, reading)
  • Eliminate caffeine after 12 noon
  • Reduce or eliminate fluid intake after 6pm. if you have a need to urinate during the night. Medications such as diuretics and blood pressure medications that get rid of excess fluid should be taken earlier in the day, whenever possible  (you will need to consult with your doctor first)
  • Use relaxation tapes
  • Develop a programme of gentle aerobic exercise, but avoid exercising in the evening
  • Actively deal with problems that interfere with sleep (e.g. pain and discomfort, crying baby, uncomfortable mattress or pillow, snoring spouse, concern about issues etc)
  • Seek treatment for depression, anxiety and/or stress if you are experiencing these
  • Avoid taking a nap late in the day as it may be more difficult for you to go to sleep at your normal time, or you may sleep for a few hours, then find yourself awake and be unable to get back to sleep
  • Don’t work in your bedroom
  • A glass of milk before bed may be helpful

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?!

Establish a routine. Go through the same routine each night and have a consistent bedtime regime. Prepare for bedtime by reducing your activity level several hours before bedtime, and by having ‘going-to-bed’ rituals, that you do consistently at the same time every night.

Things like a warm drink, brushing your teeth, taking your meds, and maybe a bit of light reading every night can help you wind down and get ready psychologically for sleep.

  • Use your bed only as a place to sleep (Ahhem!.. erm there is one exception ! ) do not use your bed for other things….. such as eating, reading, paying bills or watching television. Avoid caffeine and alcohol within 6 hrs. of bedtime. Both can interfere with sleep.
  • Get up and go into another room to read or do something else relaxing when you cannot sleep. Tossing and turning all night keeps the muscles tensed and active. This may also contribute to you waking in pain and feeling tired.
  • When you begin to feel sleepy go to bed and try again, you may need to repeat this pattern several times during the night.
  • Try to get some regular exercise during the day or early evening, to help you feel physically tired. This will help you sleep better, but be sure to finish exercising several hours before bedtime.
  • Have a comfortable environment, try to provide yourself with a good mattress or mattress topper, and control light, noise and temperature (note: Noise, Ahhem….this includes snoring by your partner!).
  • Limit daytime napping, unless this doesn’t disturb your sleep at night, in which case you may need more rest.
  • Unwind and cleanse the mind, taking all your problems off to bed with you heightens anxiety and makes it difficult to relax, try writing down any issues and put them in a box, put the lid on and leave them till tomorrow.
  • Set up a sleep schedule, based on the number of hours sleep you need per night (no less than 7 hrs a night) incorporate your bed-time rituals, and what time you need to get up. It makes it easier to work out when you should start your bedtime regime.
  • Use relaxation or distraction techniques to fall asleep, such as concentrating on your breathing, peaceful calming background music.
  • Get up at the same time, setting an alarm so that you keep a routine by getting out of bed at the same time every day, can help you to adjust back to more normal hours

Working With Medical Professionals

One of the most important members of your healthcare team is your Doctor.

His/Her job is to provide you with advice, treatment and hope. Your job is to help health care providers to help you. This shouldn’t be a one sided relationship, you cannot expect your doctor to wave a magic wand.

Recognise that will be inherent frustrations for patients and doctors when treating a condition that continues to hold mysteries for the researchers. There are constructive ways that you can help.

  • Prepare for your appointment ahead of time to make the best use of the time with your doctor. Be sensitive to your own symptoms and concerns and give some thought to the questions you might ask.
  • Take time to write down your questions and symptom complaints in an organised format, i.e. what the symptom is, how often you experience it, how it is affecting your life; if you have previously been prescribed medication, is it helping you cope with the symptom.
  • If you are experiencing pain, keep a diary and record the level, on a scale of 1-10, duration, and location of the pain (use a body outline, and shade the areas).
  • During surgery appts. be prepared to ask for what you need to manage your Fibromyalgia. Try to be concise (easier said than done I know!) and ( even harder ) not ramble.
  • Remember that sharing information is important, but listening is just as important, ask your doctor to repeat or clarify information that is unclear and write things down. It is helpful to summarise your understanding of what the doctor has just told you.
  • You can’t expect your Doctor to be your friend, but you can expect them to treat you with respect, and listen to your concerns and requests.
  • As there is no magic bullet for Fibromyalgia, great patience is required to find a combination of therapies and medication to bring about improvement. Work with your doctor to develop a plan of action should you have a flare up, so you can initiate treatment on your own, i.e. can you increase your sleep medication or can you have a standby medication that works for you, with your existing combination. What else can you do during a flare-up to reduce your symptoms? Consider other resources such as your pharmacist.
  • Realise that much of your treatment is up to you; exercise, relaxation, stress management, pain management, and pursuing additional complimentary or holistic therapies such as massage.
  • Your doctor can’t guarantee that a particular medication will work for you, but you can ask why he/she has recommended it and what they hope to accomplish by prescribing the drug.
  • Consult your doctor if you feel that your symptoms require investigation, do not be tempted to put everything down to Fibromyalgia.
  • Learn as much as you can about your illness, since you are the one who will manage the day to day problems that occur. Remember that you are in charge of your own treatment plan
  • Don’t forget that even Non-prescription treatments (herbs, vitamins, supplements) can interact with prescription medications. It is better to be safe than sorry and let your doctor know about everything you are taking.
  • Be respectful of the time constraints.

Not only is pain the main symptom of Fibromyalgia, it is a symptom that can be treated in a variety of ways. People with Fibromyalgia have different types of pain, so it is important to work with your Medical Professional to find out what treatment is best suited to your needs.

Sometimes multiple treatments are used at the same time, because they may have a better chance of reducing the pain more quickly. Fibromyalgic pain may not be the only pain that people with Fibromyalgia are experiencing- they may suffer with other types of pain too.

  • Understand that medication is not the only tool for treating pain. There are many non-medical treatments that can be used to help ease fibromyalgic pain i.e. hot or cold treatments. Self-help measures can be used to help cope with symptoms i.e. self-supervised gentle exercise programme (start with gentle stretching) and eating a balanced diet.
  • Set pain management goals and follow through on them. Pick your greatest pain problems and set goals to focus on each one.
  • Check your progress, use a chart or log to mark your progress as you meet each goal, keep a list of what does (and doesn’t !) work for you
  • Plan each day, use a ‘to do list ‘or a schedule for exercise or other activities, but don’t overdo it.
  • Seek and accept support, from friends, family, support group members or carers, they can help keep you on track, and help on difficult days
  • Prepare for difficult situations, make a list of trouble areas with your pain, and create a plan. Being prepared can help to decrease anxiety and lessen stress. Try putting a remedy box together.
  • Reward yourself, treat yourself to something nice when you reach a goal or complete a pain strategy. This will strengthen your positive attitude and your successes.
  • Review treatment strategies from time to time. Discuss with your medical professionals what you have found works for you, and share it with support group members! If you are contemplating trying complementary therapies, discuss this with medical professionals before you begin treatments. Never just stop taking prescribed medication.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, be patient and try to understand and accept that Fibromyalgia is not life threatening, and though it can be life changing, maintaining a positive attitude means this can sometimes be for the better.