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.
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