Thursday, 3 September 2015

Essential advice to help combat Fibromyalgia fatigue

Fibromyalgia can be exhausting in more ways than one. Typically Fibromyalgia is known to cause widespread muscle aches, pain and tenderness in certain areas of the body, there are additional aspects of fibromyalgia that can impact a patient’s quality of life. A 2008 study assessed the most problematic symptoms in someone suffering from fibromyalgia. Fatigue was one of the top 3 signs, alongside pain and sleep disturbances (1)

Fibro Fog

Often called "fibro fog," the exhaustion and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia are very common and often crippling, affecting 43% of women surveyed. While many physical symptoms include being stuck in pain and weakness throughout your body, fibro fog is a complete loss of physical and mental energy. You might have difficulty concentrating and poor memory, difficulty completing daily tasks, struggle with finding motivation, or engaging prolonged mental work. It permeates all aspects of your day and can lead to poor sleep and mood changes.  Because fibromyalgia is pervasive and overwhelming, people feel very isolated from others who can't relate to their symptoms. It can cause a disturbance in relationships with family and friends and avoidance of activities that used to be joyful including hobbies and physical exercise. The fog and brain fatigue you might be experiencing can no doubt negatively impact your social and emotional function. Depression and anxiety can be an unwanted but common side effect.

Testing

Unfortunately, fatigue is challenging to assess. While being a very real and acknowledged symptom, fatigue is difficult to quantify and measure. It is important, always try to rule out concomitant concerns that may affect fatigue including low serum Vitamin B12 levels, iron deficiency or anemia and low thyroid function among others. Assessing fibro fog using adequate qualitative questionnaires and scales are helpful in seeing definite improvements in fatigue.

How can you move past fatigue and “fibro fog”? 

Finding new coping strategies to help manage fatigue and brain fog are crucial. Beyond looking at the medical aspect of fatigue, the social side is the greatest step. Asking for assistance and understanding when to say no are by far the most difficult aspects of managing fibro fog. These coping strategies nurture the need to take time for yourself and putting the focus on your body and mind first. Start by limiting your daily tasks to manageable amounts and not taking on more responsibilities than you can handle. Also, reducing any undue stress is essential not only to decrease fatigue but also avoiding mood changes and sleep disturbances. The goal is to help you manage fatigue and fibro fog optimally as we work together to manage this chronic diagnosis.

If you want to understand more about your fibromyalgia you can book a  complementary no-obligation assessment with one of our experienced health coaches who can answer your questions. Call 613 230-0998, book online, or email info@ottawaholisticwellness.ca today!

About the author

Dr. Josée Boyer is a board certified bilingual Naturopathic Doctor with a general family practice. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree (Biomedical Sciences) from Laurentian University, in her native Sudbury, Ontario before pursuing her naturopathic medical training in Toronto.



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