Controversy over denied beach access due to the coronavirus has brought to mind the large role that water plays in fibromyalgia treatment. Not that the ocean is where I wish to be at this time. The nearby ocean temperatures are way too cold for me! For now, I’m content (relatively speaking) to stay at home and be safe from infection.
My rheumatologist recommended warm water therapy soon after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. As a water person, this was not a hardship for me. For nearly 20 years I was fortunate to live near either a YMCA or a hotel that sold annual pool memberships. One of these spots was my after-work destination three or more times a week. During those years I managed to work full time, be a soccer mom, and attend college at night. I can only conclude that water therapy was beneficial for me.
However, as the cost of electricity went up, the temperature of those pools went down. In time, the benefits were lost. An 87 F pool is therapeutic for me. An 80 F pool is not. In fact, it causes my muscles to contract, and it increases my pain.
My desire to swim year-round was a deciding factor in my move to southern California. Sadly, in the 20 years I’ve lived here, I haven’t found an acceptable option. One issue is that I’ve become so sensitized to chlorine that my eyes water and I feel nauseous after entering an indoor pool area. I prefer outdoor heated pools. However, none of the pools near my home are priced within my budget. Purchasing an occasional lottery ticket is my only hope to remedy this situation.
The alternative is my bathtub. When fatigue is running high, the energy required to fill the tub seems overwhelming. But when I push myself to do it anyway, I’m always grateful I did. The warm water not only soothes my tight, painful muscles but also my mind. I find it works as well as prescription drugs to ease my often-present anxiety.
Recently, painful muscle spasms (most commonly in my neck and shoulders) have been my most difficult health issue. Because I cannot tolerate prescription muscle relaxants, I spend hours lying on heating pads or ice packs, applying TENS units, rolling on hard rubber balls, or using a powerful electric massager. Many days are spent doing little else.
When none of these is working, the alternative is a hot shower. To enhance its effectiveness, I recently purchased a more powerful showerhead. I must admit to making the slight modification of removing its restrictive washer so that more water is released. And what a difference it makes! The combined increase in force and heat gets deeper than any other tool that I have. Instant relief is often the result. Unfortunately, that relief is not long-lasting.
In addition to its external usefulness, water is also internally beneficial. Professional athletes drink copious amounts of water to prevent dehydration and muscle cramping. I recently learned that I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. Rather than drink an 8-ounce glass of water all at once, it is much more beneficial to drink 2 to 4 ounces every 15 minutes. When you drink more than this at one time, the water is expelled from your body before it has a chance to be absorbed.
So, there you have it: the advantages of water for fibromyalgia sufferers. Aren’t we fortunate that something so beneficial is available everywhere and at very little cost? With no cure on the horizon, we must take comfort wherever we can find it.
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.