What Helps Me Through a Flare

What Helps Me Through a Flare

I take a deep breath as I begin to write this column. I have been in a FM chronic flare for the past couple months. Every time the weather changes I go through a couple of days of trying to deal with the change in temperature, high winds, and rainstorms, only to encounter yet another significant change in weather. Now I am dealing with temps in the low 20s, and an impending snowstorm that may bring up to a foot of snow.

This is a shock to my system after having the warmest February on record for the area I reside. I take certain actions in order to provide some comfort, if only temporarily. Some bring distraction, others are a psychological boost, and can help else ease the flare until I return to my steady state.

Because everyone differs in type and degree of FM symptoms, the strategies used to make flares more manageable vary from person to person. Hopefully by sharing my own strategies, you will be able to find something that works best for you in managing your FM flares.

I have to deal with muscles that lock up easily, to the point my calves spasm and refuse to loosen, during the winter and cold temperature changes. Tightened neck muscles can lead to unrelenting headaches that usually last up to two days. The pain builds up and it requires reducing certain movements, such as typing, holding or grasping items, for an entire day in order reduce the problem. Alleve and ice packs are a quick fix that help the source of my inflammation.

As the tender and intensified pain becomes reduced, massaging the area also is a definite. Sometimes I feel as if I am grasping at straws while trying to locate the source of my pain. I may have many areas massaged until I hit the most painful site. For instance, I often think my headaches are coming directly from my neck or shoulders. It took quite a few years, chiropractic visits and my husband’s massage, until I realized that sometimes it is from muscle groups in my elbow, or rotator cuff area, as well as the shoulder blades. It is like peeling the layers of an onion; the most affected are deeper and not felt as readily until the other irritated muscles are relaxed.

During summer and rare warmer temperatures, like this past month, I deal mainly with burning pain, and some mild nausea. The burning feels just like a second-degree sunburn, except for the blistering effects. Trying to get comfortable in order to rest is virtually impossible when certain parts of your body are hot, and others want a blanket. I usually have to wrap cool packs around my ankles and across my chest. Not to be risqué but, as little clothing as possible is mandatory. Drinking ginger-ale helps decrease my nausea.

For escalated pain that causes a mixture of spasms and gnawing sensations as well as burning pain, the only definite relief is the anti-epileptic and muscle relaxant that I take for nightly restorative sleep. The added aids help provide some comfort, or work toward pain reduction.

The regular comforts that I practice every day consist of: Hot showers (ironically even with burning pain,) green tea, visualization of the pain exiting my body (with a force,) and kisses/hugs from loved ones always provide a positive end to the day.

The main thing is I know that regardless of the extent of the flare, it will not last forever, and the idea of a better day helps get me through the rough times.

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Sandra Wallace says:

    Hi Lori,I often wondered about that,if others that have fibro have that burning pain. My pain comes and goes, not only with intensity, but also the type of pain as well. I have that burning pain, which the best way I can describe it is what it feels like if you haven’t been to the gym for a long time, then you go and really push yourself, you wake up with intense burning muscle pain, that’s what I have, but it comes and goes. I’m actually having that as I write this. I got my son off to school and my other son is in bed next to me watching videos. It’s cold this morning in Nor Cal. Which adds to my pain, mornings are rough.

  2. HJ says:

    I have cervical spondylosis and have headaches at the base of my skull and tightness in my shoulder girdle area. Lately, I also have symptoms that radiate down my arm so I suspect a nerve may be compressed somewhere along the nerve path. I’ve gotten a lot of help through Trigger point injections done by a physiatrist, a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. The injections only go into the muscles in my upper back/shoulder area and the injections contain a lidocaine solution (not sure if there are other ingredients, but my doctor does NOT use steroids in these injections). It’s a topical numbing, but the action of the needle also physically helps break up the knots in the muscle fibers. I’m sore for a day or two, but I sleep like a baby and get relief for about 3 weeks. It used to be a full month or maybe a bit over a month… It’s not that I’m growing tolerant. I believe that my symptoms are just progressing as they would with or without the medication.

    The three weeks of cervico-genic headache relief, the improved sleep for a week or two, and the looseness of my muscles for about two weeks or so are priceless benefits for a procedure with few side-effects (mostly just short-lived tenderness).

    The trigger point injections are good for myofascial pain which comes with fibromyalgia and also my cervical spondylosis.

    The physiatrist has offered me treatments that other doctors didn’t. I was able to persuade her to let me try compounded medications (unfortunately, I didn’t find them beneficial), I got voltaren gel for my arthritis and lidocaine cream (that is, until the lidocaine patch became affordable and I switched over) and also a TENS unit for muscle spasms (which you really need instruction on how to set and use — a physical therapist did that for me).

    The physiatrist had sent me to physical therapy. I also started acupuncture treatments through the physiatrist’s office but I found I reacted poorly to the initial treatment (with increased pain and generalized fatigue/malaise!).

    In the future, I may get injections for my sacro-iliac joints through the physiatrist’s office, and they’ve been helpful in assessing my widespread osteoarthritis, teaching me about exercises and posture.

    I really think it’s an under-utilized specialty but I’m afraid that if word gets out, I’ll have a harder time making an appointment! Ha!

    I haven’t been cured… but I’ve been greatly helped. The fibromyalgia symptoms have been in (remission????) as long as I treat my sleep apnea. It seems my fibromyalgia is secondary to sleep apnea and “the beast awakens” when I become sleep deprived. As you can imagine, I’m preoccupied with getting sufficient sleep. It chases off the “roaming pains” that I associated with fibro and leaves me with the localized/predictable pains of osteoarthritis.

  3. Em says:

    I see the pain specialist in 3 days for trigger point injections and also going to see if my insurance will cover some type of physical therapy. I have a TENS and right now even a shower is out of the question.
    So much for an Easter w/ my grand children. I hope some day they will understand and know how much I want to be a part of their lives.

    • Lori Galpeer says:

      I am so sorry that you won’t have opportunity to be with your grandchildren; I hope that there are ways you can express your love and hopes to see them (via card, text, etc). I have not seen my (now full grown) nieces since my wedding (16 yrs ago), yet, I keep in touch via FB. They still send letters/e-mails expressing their love and missing me. What I am trying to convey is your grandchildren will always love you and the disappoint is bound to hurt you more due to the unfairness of this illness. I am sorry that you are in such pain and hope the trigger point injections settle things down! I had several for a chronic back spasm, that eventually settled for good. I hope you get substantial relief from them too.

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