What is a fibro flare?

Coping With a Fibromyalgia Flare

Things are going pretty well, considering you have fibromyalgia. Then out of the blue it suddenly hits — the dreaded flare. And you wonder, what could have caused this to happen?

Maybe it was the extra gardening you did on the day you were feeling so energetic. Maybe it was that awful visit from the difficult relative that had you so totally on edge. Maybe it was the caffeine in something you drank or ate. Or maybe it happened for no reason at all. When a flare hits, often all you know is that the pain dial’s turned up to ten: Suddenly fibromyalgia is ruling your world.

Whatever the underlying cause, when a fibromyalgia flare occurs, it’s best to be prepared. While the following coping techniques may not make the pain go away 100 percent, they might just make managing it a bit easier.

When a flare is upon you, experts say you need to:

Give yourself a break. As Murphy’s Law predicts, flares often strike at the worst possible times. But no matter what you have going on or how important it is, if you try to push through the pain, you’ll pay for it. Try to cut yourself some slack instead; ask for help from others, extend deadlines if possible, and take care of your flare first. Do all you can to set your stress level to “low” when your fibromyalgia kicks up.

Just say no. When a flare hits, protecting your personal boundaries becomes even more critical. No, you can’t take on an extra project at work. No, you can’t make 120 cookies for the bake sale. No, you can’t babysit the neighbor’s kids. A firm but polite refusal, minus any explanations or excuses, puts you in control of your schedule and gives you room to say “yes” to what your body needs.

Get your ZZZ’s. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suspect that sleep, or the lack of it, plays a key role in fibromyalgia symptoms. This makes adequate rest especially important when your fibromyalgia symptoms increase. Getting eight hours or more of rest has to be a top priority. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day to help reset your body’s sleep cycle. Consider adding a short nap (even ten minutes can make a big difference) to your day, if possible. One caveat: Don’t nap so much during the day that you’re unable to sleep at night.

Play mind games. Biofeedback, deep breathing, meditation, self-hypnosis, or even just distracting yourself with a good book or some soothing music can help take your mind off the pain and make coping with a flare more manageable, say experts at the National Fibromyalgia Association.

Pace yourself. Mayo Clinic researchers have found that people with fibromyalgia who keep going, but at a slower pace, weather a flare better than those who put a halt to activity altogether. You need to know your limits and listen to your body. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Same goes for exercise. Gentle stretching, a leisurely walk, or some easy yoga moves can keep you moving enough to help reduce the pain.

Medicate proactively. Following your medication schedule as prescribed can help you get pain under control and keep it there. During a flare, it’s better to take your pain medication like clockwork — even if you feel as if the last dose is still working — rather than waiting for pain to return full force before taking the next dose. At the same time, resist the temptation to double up on meds or play pharmacist: Both over-the-counter and prescription pain medications taken at levels just slightly above the recommended dose can cause serious side effects, including liver or kidney failure. And some medications (including herbal remedies) can be dangerous when combined. If your meds aren’t cutting it, call your doctor and ask for advice or some additional treatment options.

Consider your alternatives. When it comes to managing a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, Western medicine may not be the only path to take, say the experts at the National Fibromyalgia Association. Acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, biofeedback, and other therapies sometimes help bring pain relief to those who aren’t finding it through conventional means. Check out providers carefully, ask for recommendations, make sure they’re familiar with the special needs of those with fibromyalgia, and keep your primary-care doctor in the loop about what alternative approaches you’re considering.

Drink water. Critical to all of your body’s cellular functions, water is nature’s perfect health drink. Drinking eight to ten glasses per day will keep your body well hydrated and aid your kidneys and liver in their important tasks of ridding your body of toxins. Being properly hydrated also helps alleviate fatigue and aids your body in properly processing medications. Just be sure to avoid alcohol, soda pop, caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, and artificially sweetened beverages: They won’t hydrate your body properly and may increase the intensity of a flare.

Talk about it. Coping with a chronic illness can be isolating, leading to depression, anxiety, and other problems. Reach out to others for support and encouragement when pain levels rise. Sometimes just talking about how you’re feeling with people who understand and care can help take the intensity out of a fibromyalgia flare.

Have you noticed that we fibromyalgia people have our own lexicon for what we experience? We’re called fibro folk, fibromites, spoonies or other names. We live in our own fibro worlds and share our circumstances with our fibro friends. Whatever we happen to forget is caused by fibro fog and then there’s the ever-evolving topic of fibro flares ….

Does anyone else out there have fibro flares, or is that just me?

Oh yeah. We all do.

What differs for each of us is the cause, the duration, and the intensity of our flares. Today’s article will focus on the topic of “the cause.”

That’s a misnomer already. If there’s anything that you remember from this article (despite the waxing and waning fibro fog) I hope that you grasp that there is no ONE single cause of a flare (or even of fibromyalgia in the first place). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Here’s a simple demonstration of a fibro flare:

You wake up with a crick in your neck that’s worse than whatever you term your “daily normal stiffness quotient.” You go through the rigmarole of getting ready for the day and feel a dull headache coming on. You vaguely wonder if there’s a weather change afoot. When you’re fixing breakfast and reach up into a cupboard, that crick in your neck becomes more of a small lightning bolt. It now radiates down your back, shoulder, and through your chest. You start to feel a bit woozy. You say to yourself, “Oh, here it comes….”

You quickly flip through your agenda for the day in your head. You filter out the non-essential tasks from those that are absolutely essential. You whittle everything down to the bare minimum. You’ve now prepared yourself to have a “flare day.”

You’re oh-so familiar with your flares. You recognize one when it’s headed your way. You can’t say it’s a friend, but it’s definitely an old acquaintance.

A flare of symptoms (a fibro flare, specifically), is an accumulation or a cascade effect of aches, pains, spasms, imbalances, and overall systemic disturbances. A flare is an unplanned hurricane of symptoms. Of course, some flares are more like thundershowers than hurricanes, but the fact that they “rain” on our plans is universal.

When I see a client who mentions a recent flare, I ask her to go along with me on a symptom archeological dig. We determine when the accumulation of symptoms first occurred. We speculate on what was going on at the time. I often ask questions that clients feel are completely unrelated, but I ask for patience. You see, there are many not-so-obvious factors that can contribute to a flare.

Here are a few common causes that come to mind:

  • A recent fall, stumble, or startle to the body (even minor events)
  • A recent injury whether major or minor
  • Recent changes in prescribed medications
  • Recent changes in over-the-counter medications
  • Weather-related changes (yes, some studies state this is hooey while others state it as fact. I don’t care. I feel physical changes with barometric weather changes as do my clients, relatives, and fibro friends)
  • Recent doctor’s visits (including MDs, physical therapists, dentists, etc.!)
  • Recent travel (air, bus, train, car, etc.)
  • A recent change in sleep patterns (too little, too much, changed location/pillows, etc.)
  • Other physical changes

Here are some that may take a bit of increased awareness:

  • Recent changes/additions in hormone medications, creams, supplements, etc.
  • Eating foods that don’t “agree” with you and your nutrition type
  • Recent changes in diet/nutrition
  • Lack of fitness routines (a sedentary lifestyle leaves the body vulnerable to muscle pulls, pinched nerves, spinal alignment issues, etc.)
  • Recent cold, flu, or infections especially when connected to taking a course of antibiotics
  • A recent upsetting “discussion” or disagreement with a close family member, co-worker, or friend
  • A recent personal discovery or revelation that feels overwhelming, saddening, or devastating, (i.e. finding out that your child who planned to attend a local college, now plans to attend school out of state, or, obviously, something worse)
  • Any negative, unhealthy, cyclical, critical, judgmental thoughts about yourself and others
  • Recent external toxic exposures (to pesticides, carpet cleaners, air fresheners, candles, scented laundry products, perfumed items, hair and skin care products, remodeling supplies ), etc.
  • Recent internal toxic exposures to chemicals found in packaged and processed foods, drinks, pharmaceuticals, over the counter medications, dental work, immunizations, and more

Additionally, here are chronic versions of issues that can build like tinder just waiting to flare:

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  • Chronic generalized worries, stress, anxiety
  • Chronic relationship issues and worries
  • Chronic financial issues and worries
  • Chronic concerns and fears of future health and/or disability issues
  • Any fear or worry that escalates into a chronic state

Anything that has the potential to worsen symptoms,
can provide the catalyst to a fibromyalgia flare.

Here’s a more detailed illustration of how a flare can happen.

Faye is a 43 year old woman with fibromyalgia. Faye has recently changed her position at work to one that requires less travel. She was no longer able to “handle” the constant shuffling from rental car companies to airports to hotels.

Faye is frustrated by her physical limitations and made the job decision by default rather than by choice. Thinking about these frustrations, she packs up her office late on a Friday night after everyone has gone home so she can be alone. Her new job is on a lower floor of her building – not to mention at a lower pay. She’ll have to move into the new office on Monday morning. She puts her few personal possessions into a small box and only packs what fits inside. She carries it under one arm as she hurries to the elevator.

Across her office parking lot, she tiptoes through seeping mud-filled puddles and regrets leaving her large umbrella in the office. When she gets to her car, she avoids putting the box down onto the wet blacktop to locate her keys, and instead balances it along with her purse and a book bag. She successfully fishes her keys from her purse and while swinging her car door open, she loses her grip on everything. Gritting her teeth, she watches the box, its contents, her purse, and her books fall onto the filthy, soaked ground.

By the time she’s collected her things and climbed into her car, she’s soaking wet and in pain. Her anger and frustrations fuel her thoughts all the way home. She walks into her small apartment and is too upset to do anything but turn on the TV for distraction. The achiness in her back, neck, and shoulders increases. Her muscles stiffen. Her knees, hips and wrists are sore from crawling around on the parking lot. She knows that a flare is imminent. She mutters to herself, “Oh, here it comes … and this one’s gonna be a doozy.”

Can you relate?

Of course, for illustration purposes, this story combines multiple “flare factors.” Faye had definite physical injuries and potential impairments of muscles, joints, and surface abrasions. She was probably achy already from the rain. On the emotional side of things, her fears and worries included money, career, job security, embarrassment, anxiety over loss of physical mobility, self-identity changes, isolation, relationship issues, and more.

While this may be an exaggerated depiction, remember this –

A fibro flare is never “caused” by just one thing.

A set of circumstances throws a flare into action.

So, the next time that you’re in a flare, or if you think back to a recent flare, go beyond the obvious. Besides the injury, think about what was going on in your thoughts at the time. Were you frustrated, angry, or upset?

Understanding the connection between all of these factors gives YOU the power to better predict as well as manage your flares.

What combination of flare factors affects you the most?

_______________

Sue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com) is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia writer for the ProHealth website community.

Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™– a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.

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Fibromyalgia Flare-Ups

There are many potential triggers of a fibromyalgia flare up which are listed below:

  • Changes in weather: Changes in weather have been reported by fibromyalgia sufferers to bring on fibromyalgia flare-ups.
  • Increased exertion: Increasing physical activity beyond usual routines could bring on a fibromyalgia flare-up. Increased physical activity should be done gradually and with a physician’s guidance.
  • Injury/Illness: An injury or illness, such as an infection, can cause a flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms. It is recommended to seek physician care quickly when an infection is suspected or an injury occurs.
  • Change in Temperature: Many fibromyalgia sufferers experience fibromyalgia flare-ups with extremes of temperature such as when exposed to excessive cold or heat.
  • Stress: Increased periods of emotional or physical stress can bring on a fibromyalgia flare-up.
  • Decreased sleep: Fibromyalgia often results in difficulty with sleep, thus, when sleep is disrupted or there is a change in the sleep patterns, fibromyalgia symptoms can flare-ups.
  • Travel: Individuals with fibromyalgia can experience a flare-up while traveling, as this can often result in exposure to multiple triggers such as change in diet, change in temperature, and interrupted sleep.

Treatment changes: Changes in the treatment regimen, such as a change in medication, can bring on a fibromyalgia flare-up.

Keep reading below to see what are the ways to prevent Fibromyalgia flare-ups.

Fibromyalgia – an example a central pain syndrome – is a chronic health condition characterized by symptoms of widespread muscle pain, fatigue, memory problems and mood changes. As in many chronic diseases, fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go and vary in intensity.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

While a person with fibromyalgia might experience certain symptoms on a regular basis, when symptoms worsen or happen more frequently for a period of time, it is called a flare.

“A flare is the worsening or exacerbation of symptoms that already exist,” says Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology, rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Patients use different timeframes for what they consider a flare, but it’s generally several days or weeks of worsening symptoms. Anything shorter is considered normal waxing and waning of symptoms that someone with fibromyalgia can expect.”

Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Widespread muscle pain
  • Fatigue that makes completing daily activities difficult
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after a long period of inactivity
  • Cognitive difficulties, also known as fibro fog, including problems with memory, concentration and organization
  • Emotional issues, such as anxiety, sadness or depression
  • Sleep problems, such as taking a long time to fall or sleep, frequent waking or waking up and still not feeling rested

While these are common symptoms among people with fibromyalgia, everyone experiences flares differently.

“People with fibromyalgia do not all experience flares the same way,” Dr. Clauw says. “A good way to explain it is that every person with fibromyalgia has their Achilles heel – their ‘thing’ that really gives them trouble. When their fibromyalgia worsens, that particular thing really gets bad.”

A person’s predominant symptoms during a flare can change over time.

“A person who is flaring might seem to have a worsening of pain in their hips or back,” Dr. Clauw says. “But 10 years ago, that same person could have experienced bad menstrual cramps or headaches as their Achilles heel. The nature of fibromyalgia is that it’s a pain amplification syndrome, and that pain can shift.”

Triggers for Fibromyalgia Flares

One of the best ways to prevent a flare is to determine what might be causing it in the first place. These causes are called triggers. Like symptoms, triggers for fibromyalgia vary by person, but they can include:

  • Physical or psychological stress
  • Temperature and/weather changes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Traveling and/or changes in schedule
  • Changes in treatment
  • Diet
  • Poor sleep

“We know that any type of stress – not just psychological, but also physical, immune or anything that disrupts the body’s normal routine – can trigger a flare,” Dr. Clauw says. “Anything from a motor vehicle accident to surgery or another type of stressful life event can cause a worsening of symptoms. Flares can also be caused by behavioral triggers such as not sleeping well, suddenly stopping exercise or overdoing it on activity.”

Some flares are unavoidable, and certain triggers are beyond your control. You can try to identify what aggravates your fibromyalgia symptoms by keeping a log of your activities, what you eat, how you sleep and how all of those factors influence your symptoms. After logging these factors for several weeks, you might be able to see a pattern. This will help you know how to better manage the inputs that might trigger a flare.

Treating a Fibromyalgia Flare

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your fibromyalgia is going to flare. While the urge is to reach for a magic pill, there is no treatment for fibromyalgia that is flaring.

“The truth is we’re far better at preventing flares than we are treating them,” Dr. Clauw says. “There’s no rescue medication for fibromyalgia. The medications approved for fibromyalgia take weeks to start working, and pain medications like opioids don’t work well for a lot of people.”

In the absence of effective medication, Clauw suggests taking a look at the behaviors you’re engaging in that might be affecting your symptoms.

“A lot of people with fibromyalgia tend to overdo it with activity when they’re feeling well,” Dr. Clauw says. “Learning to pace yourself can help get you out of the cycle of doing too much while you’re feeling well and then paying for it later when your fibromyalgia flares.”

While you may be reluctant to add something to your schedule if you’re already tired and in pain, mind-body practices can be great mood lifters and pain relievers. Try meditation, deep-breathing, and forms of exercise that include stretching and relaxation, such as yoga.

Related Resources:

  • Learn more about fibromyalgia
  • Meditation to help relieve pain
  • Yoga for managing arthritis-related pain
  • For more content like this, subscribe to Arthritis Today magazine

Self-help


Fibromyalgia

The plan is likely to involve a mixture of aerobic and strengthening exercises.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic activities are any kind of rhythmic, moderate-intensity exercises that increase your heart rate and make you breathe harder.

Examples include:

  • walking
  • cycling
  • swimming

Research suggests that aerobic fitness exercises should be included in your personalised exercise plan, even if you cannot complete these at a high level of intensity.

For example, if you find jogging too difficult, you could try brisk walking instead.

A review of a number of studies found aerobic exercises may improve quality of life and relieve pain.

As aerobic exercises increase your endurance (how long you can keep going), these may also help you function better on a day-to-day basis.

Resistance and strengthening exercises

Resistance and strengthening exercises are those that focus on strength training, such as lifting weights.

These exercises need to be planned as part of a personalised exercise programme. If they’re not, muscle stiffness and soreness could be made worse.

A review of a number of studies concluded that strengthening exercises may improve:

  • muscle strength
  • physical disability
  • depression
  • quality of life

People with fibromyalgia who completed the strengthening exercises in these studies said they felt less tired, could function better and experienced a boost in mood.

Improving the strength of your major muscle groups can make it easier to do aerobic exercises.

Find out more about health and fitness

What are fibromyalgia flares?

Okay. So you’re having a flare. What does that mean? What can you expect? How long does it last? How can you explain this term to those that do not have fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or other chronic illness so that they can understand and help during those times? Better yet, how do I reduce (and recover from) fibromyalgia flares?

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Having a fibromyalgia flare means you are experiencing an increase of pain or symptoms. Just as fibromyalgia varies from person to person, so do flares. These flares often times leave the person without energy and not able to enjoy their normal daily activities.

For me, having a flare means elevated or heightened:

  • pain levels
  • abdominal pains
  • sensory sensitivities
  • headaches
  • muscle knots

I sometimes also experience heightened anxiety or bouts of depression.

How long do fibromyalgia flares last?

Just as the flare can vary person to person, so does the length of the flare. They have been known to last a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. I’ve had flares last as long as three months.

What causes fibromyalgia flares?

There are many triggers for a flare.

Triggers could be:

  • stress
  • something you’ve eaten
  • the weather

There are other triggers for flares, but these are the most common ones.

How can I reduce the chances of fibromyalgia flares?

Here are some ways to reduce the chances of a flare.

Reduce your stress

Find ways to relieve stress. Whether it’s going for a walk, curling up with a good book, or talking to a friend, releasing stress relaxes the body.

Eat the good stuff, avoid the bad stuff

Living with fibromyalgia means having a stubborn gut. It knows what it wants and if it doesn’t get it, it will act out. Be sure to fill up with all the good stuff your body needs, and by avoiding the bad stuff, you’re also greatly reducing the chances of a flare. Read more about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a fibro diet.

Watch the weather

Drastic changes in the barometer can also affect your body and health. My grandmother, mom, and dad would say they could feel the bad weather coming in their bones. I never understood what they meant until I developed fibromyalgia.

Be sure to watch the weather forecast to prepare for the cold or rainy weather. In the days leading up to, during and following, you can get extra rest, drink plenty of fluids, and load up on self-care.

Positive mindset

Having a positive outlook on your illness can also help reduce the chances of a fibromyalgia flare. It’s not always easy, but having a better mindset can help you physically. Check out this article from Mental Health America about the benefits of staying positive.

Listen to your loved ones

My husband can tell when I’m doing something that could wind up in a flare, so he will give me warnings. These include ‘be sure to rest’, ‘don’t forget to drink water’, or something similar. When your loved ones help you in this way, take it to heart and know they say it out of love for you.

Know your limits

You know your physical and mental limits better than anyone. Be mindful of them and stay within those boundaries to avoid a full shutdown later. If you think it’s “worth the flare”, then try to do what you can during the event such as taking breaks, increasing fluids, etc.

Take plenty of breaks

When working in the yard, doing housework, or participating in a social event, be sure to take plenty of breaks. A good rule of thumb is to rest every 20 minutes of activity. The rest should be ten minutes.

Make self-care a priority

Self-care should always be practiced. Love your body and don’t abuse it by pushing it too far. Self-care can be anything you enjoy doing. It could be working in the garden, going to a concert with friends, or reading a good book.

How can I recover from fibromyalgia flares?

There isn’t one treatment for a flare. A flare is an elevation of symptoms, so the treatment depends on what is flaring, and can even be a combination of treatments.

Plenty of rest

Your body needs plenty of rest during a flare. Lying on the couch, reclining in a chair, or being in the bed are ways to rest your body. Be sure to get up periodically to move your joints to prevent stiffness and improve circulation.

Drink your liquids

Being hydrated is important when flaring. Ensure the liquids you give your body are nourishing. Liquids include water, smoothies, or tea. My preference of a smoothie is one with lots of berries and chia seeds both of which are antioxidants (helps with inflammation). Turmeric Ginger tea by Buddha Tea * is my favorite.

*I add a spoonful of honey infused with copaiba, lemon, and Thieves essential oils for overall support.

Pain Relief Cream

Applying a topical pain relief cream to the affected area (if there is one) can drastically help your body with recovering. There are lots of creams out there including cream with CBD oil and magnesium lotion, but the one I find most effective for relieving pain is the Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream. It helps relieve deep muscle and join pain through the methyl salicylate and natural menthol components.

Soaking in a bath

Soaking in a warm bath is great for your achy joints and body. Adding some epsom salt or magnesium bath flakes (this is what I use) would be extra soothing.

Treatment can also include:

  • medication
  • yoga, or deep breathing exercises
  • massage
  • stress relief techniques
  • journaling

What do you do to recover from a fibromyalgia flare?

A fibro flare is a flare of symptoms that can occur at any time and can last for any duration. You may wake up feeling just fine but at mid-day suddenly feel as if you’ve been hit by a freight train. That feeling may last until you get a good night’s sleep or it may continue for days or weeks.

A fibro flare might include any combination of your symptoms, or it might just be a single symptom. When it comes to fibro, though, a flare will most likely include increased pain or fatigue, or both.

The one thing that’s certain is that fibro flares are unpredictable and frustrating.

What are symptoms of a fibro flare?

A fibro flare is an increase in fibromyalgia symptoms, primarily widespread body pain and fatigue. Often you will feel like you have the flu, just generally exhausted with pain all over.

Your symptoms during a fibro flare will be unique to you and probably even unique from flare to flare. Those symptoms may include any combination of the symptoms you experience with fibromyalgia, but will most likely include at least fatigue or pain – most likely both.

Often a flare in the major fibromyalgia symptoms (pain and fatigue) will also result in a flare in other symptoms including dizziness, inability to concentrate, digestive symptoms, and migraine.

How long to fibro flares last?

A fibro flare can last any length of time from hours to weeks, sometimes months or longer. During my early days with fibro, it seemed I lived in one long fibro flare that lasted for most of about two years. I’d have occasional “good” days where I felt pretty decent, and I can recall one really great month. But, during that time I was definitely in a flare more often than not.

Since I’ve gotten my symptoms under control, my flares are typically much shorter, rarely lasting longer than a day and most often just lasting for about half a day. Now, it’s most common that I will wake up feeling poorly, but by hydrating and not pushing myself I can regain energy and begin feeling better as the day wears on.

What causes a fibro flare?

A fibro flare can be caused by anything or seemingly nothing at all. Any change to your A few of the most common causes are:

  • stress (physical or mental)
  • weather and temperature changes
  • diet (certain foods may be triggers for you)
  • over-exertion (physical or mental)
  • illness, injury, or surgery
  • travel (or any change to your routine)
  • sleep disruptions
  • changes in treatment
  • My 6 most common fibro flare triggers and how to deal with them
  • Top 9 reasons for a fibro flare by Sue Ingebretson
  • What’s the hidden cause of your fibro flare by Sue Ingebretson

How do you decrease fibro flares?

The first step to decreasing your fibro flares is to find your specific triggers. You may find it helpful to keep a journal, tracking what is going on in your life, the weather, and what you eat, as well as how your symptoms vary. This can help you find what you can adjust in your life to help reduce flares.

My biggest trigger was diet. When I changed my diet and removed the foods that were making me feel worse the fibro flares all but stopped. I went from barely getting off the couch to finally having energy. And, my pain levels decreased dramatically.

But, diet isn’t my only trigger. The others I’ve mentioned above are still in play. Sometimes they can be avoided and other times they can’t. I just do the best I can to control them.

The best thing I can do is limit stress – both physical and mental. I find that regular meditation is a great way to limit mental stress. Also, controlling my work environment, and how much I commit to.

Sometimes people can contribute to mental stress, so I find it important to be wise about who I spend time with, specifically avoiding toxic people and those who would simply take up my energy.

Pacing is an excellent way to reduce physical stress, and avoid over-exertion. It’s too easy to push ourselves and end up paying for it. Pacing simply means taking breaks regularly to sit down and really consider how you are feeling, and stopping when your body indicates the need.

It is largely believed that sleep issues may be at the root of fibromyalgia. With that in mind, one of the best things we can do is improve our sleep. If you’ve not had a sleep study yet, talk to your doctor about doing so to rule out sleep apnea or other major sleep disorders that can be treated.

If you’ve already had a sleep study and they’ve not found a treatable cause for your sleep issues, you may want to consider one of these natural ways to improve your sleep.

How do you prepare for a fibro flare?

Fibro flares often show up when we are least prepared and least expecting them, but doing a few key things when you are feeling well will help getting through those flares much easier. #fibroflares

You may not be able to avoid flares completely but you can make getting through them a lot easier by preparing in advance.

  • Keep your meds handy. The last thing you want to do when a flare hits is have to find the meds you need.
  • Put together a fibro flare survival kit. Make sure it includes everything you would want or need when you aren’t feeling well. Include some easy snacks and maybe even a bottle of water along with your meds, heating pad, and some items to keep you distracted.
  • Make sure you have electrolytes and Epsom salt on hand. A warm bath with Epsom salts can help ease the pain on on a flare day, and re-hydrating with electrolytes can help decrease the fatigue and shorten the flare.
  • Make sure to have some easy to prepare meals on hand. You have to eat even in a flare, but the last thing you feel like doing is cooking. I try to keep a few frozen meals or prepped meals on hand for when these days hit.

What do you do to make sure you are prepared when a #fibroflare hits?

How do you ease the symptoms of a fibro flare?

What you can do to help improve your symptoms during a fibro flare depends greatly on what symptoms you are dealing with. The best thing you can do is avoid fighting it, but sometimes you just don’t have the choice to rest during a flare.

What you can do to help get through the day with a fibro flare:

1 . Hydrate – drinking water will help flush any toxins that may be causing inflammation, but hydrating also improves blood flow, decreases fatigue, cools your body, lubricates your muscles and joints. Proper hydration can also help improve working memory, focus, and concentration.

2. Eat Right – Eating a poor diet will only make you feel worse. Try to eat a healthful diet full of whole foods, avoiding processed foods, sugars, and other foods that can cause inflammation.

3. Control for Stress – You may not be able to completely avoid stress, but try to control it as much as possible. Even simply taking breaks throughout your day to meditate can help.

Check out these 6 tips for working during a fibro flare.

How do you shorten fibro flares when they occur?

No matter how much I’ve improved my fibromyalgia symptoms as a whole, I still have bad days. You simply can’t avoid fibro flares completely. But, I’ve learned that a few simple steps can really help me shorten those flares when they occur.

1 . I focus on rest – if at all possible I don’t do anything when I’m in a flare. I just rest. I don’t work, I don’t clean, I don’t cook, I don’t do anything really engaging. I might watch TV or play a video game. I treat myself as I would with any other acute illness.

2 . I hydrate – I drink lots of water and also try to add in electrolytes. I avoid caffeine, even though the inclination would seem to be that caffeine would boost my energy. It’s counter-intuitive to drink caffeine when my goals are to hydrate and to rest.

3. I avoid stress – This may mean not answering my phone or looking at text messages, but it definitely means avoiding work and avoiding people who may eat away at my energy or make me feel stressed.

4. I ask for help if needed – This is something I struggle so much with. But, I am learning that it’s OK to ask for help and that there are those who will provide it as much as they can. Part of avoiding stress means knowing who to ask. So, if you don’t have someone who has proven they will help, it may be less stressful not to ask.

5. I keep a flare kit ready – A flare kit is any combination of items that help you get through bad day. This may include a hot pack, pain relievers, a tablet for reading or watching videos, a favorite playlist.

Fibro flares are probably the most frustrating aspect of fibromyalgia, because you never know when they will occur or how long they will last. Just knowing that they can occur can create stress and anxiety that can create a self-fulfilling prophecy – the flare itself.

But, making a few key changes can help you greatly reduce the likelihood that a fibro flare will occur, and proper planning can help you minimize fibro flares when the do occur.

Making a few key changes can help you greatly reduce the likelihood that a fibro flare will occur, and proper planning can help you minimize fibro flares when the do occur.

  • 6 Tips for Surviving Work During a Fibro Flare
  • ABC’s of Bouncing Back from a Flare
  • Learn to Control Your Pain and Flares
  • A Playlist for Fibromyalgia Flare Days
  • How do you shorten fibro flares?
  • What causes fibromyalgia flares? My top 6 causes
  • The Flare Survival Kit
  • 5 tips for getting through a fibro flare

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What Does a Fibromyalgia Flare-up Feel Like & How Long Does it Last?

Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is a common musculoskeletal condition which is associated with muscular pain all over the body with localized tenderness at specific points of the body. Fibromyalgia occurs more commonly in women of age ranging from 25-60 years. It is also observed in men and children. It shows a number of symptoms but these vary from person to person.

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What Does a Fibromyalgia Flare-up Feel Like?

When some symptoms of fibromyalgia take place on regular basis and become worse, then it is called as the flare. Thus, fibromyalgia flare-up means worsening in number and intensity of symptoms. It is observed that pain and fatigue generally become worse along with other symptoms too. It is a set of symptoms hence fibromyalgia is also called as a syndrome. The intensity of the following symptoms increases during a fibromyalgia flare-up:

  • Widespread body ache
  • Muscles have deep stabbing pain
  • Pain in joints of neck, shoulder, back and hips
  • Tenderness
  • Crippling fatigue
  • Body stiffness
  • Mood disturbances such as anxiety and depression
  • Pain and fatigue make it difficult for person to get sound sleep leading to sleep disturbances.

Other Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Flare-Up Include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Chronic headache
  • Inability to concentrate on work
  • Hypersensitivity to cold or heat
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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The main symptoms of fibromyalgia flare-up are pain and fatigue. The pain occurs all over the body at anytime and remains either for short or long time. The fatigue or tiredness is very high at times which makes it difficult for the patient to even get up from the bed. Due to extreme pain, it becomes difficult for these patients to socialize as well. This leads to isolation as well as depression.

How Long Does a Fibromyalgia Flare-Up Last?

Fibromyalgia flare-up can last for various time durations. For some, the fibro flare-up lasts for a day or two while others may experience it for several weeks or even months. The fibromyalgia flares which are of long duration are very difficult to tolerate due to the ever increasing pain all over the body. However, the fibromyalgia flare-up of symptoms is temporary and they begin to subside after sometime.

Also Read:

  • What are the Causative Factors for Fibromyalgia Flare-up & How is it Managed?
  • FAQ on Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, 11 Painful Trigger Points, Causes, Risk Factors
  • Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS): Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Treatment, Tests
  • Yoga for Fibromyalgia: 4 Best Asanas To Relieve Painful Tender Points
  • 10 Best Exercises for Fibromyalgia
  • Is Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia the Right Choice for You?
  • Does Fibromyalgia Progressively Get Worse?|Preventing Fibromyalgia from Worsening?

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