Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes pain in
your muscles and joints. It may also cause poor sleep, headaches, and stiffness
or muscle aches. Stress or lack of sleep can make the symptoms of fibromyalgia
worse. More women than men have fibromyalgia, but the disorder is common--it is
seen in up to 5% of the population. However, it isn't life-threatening and it
doesn't cause permanent damage.
If I have fibromyalgia, what can I
do to help myself feel better?
One of the best things you can do if you have
fibromyalgia is exercise. Begin with stretching exercises and gentle, low-impact
activity, such as walking or bicycling. Start your exercise program slowly,
because at the beginning, exercise may make your pain worse. Some muscle
soreness is normal when you're starting to exercise, but sharp pain may be a
sign that you have overworked your muscles.
As you progress with exercise, it will become
more comfortable for you. In order for exercise to help, you must do it
regularly. The goal is to get started and keep going, to gain relief from pain
and to improve sleep. Below are some exercises you might want to try:
Walking: Start slowly by walking for 5
minutes the first day. The next day, add a minute to this total. Keep adding 1
or 2 minutes a day until you are walking for 60 minutes a day. When you reach
this point, walk for at least 1 hour, 3 or 4 times a week. If you find yourself
struggling as you're working your way up to walking for 60 minutes, go back to a
length of time that was comfortable for you and continue walking for this period
of time for several days. Then continue to increase the minutes again until you
reach the goal of 60 minutes. Try as many times as you need to reach the goal of
walking for 60 minutes.
Walking/jogging: After you feel
comfortable with walking 3 or 4 times a week, you can alternate walking with
slow jogging. Walk for 2 blocks, then jog for 1 block, walk for 2 blocks, jog
for 1 block, and so on. Do this as often as it feels comfortable. Extend your
exercise for longer periods if you feel comfortable.
Bicycling: Stationary bicycles (exercise
bikes) offer the benefit of exercising indoors. Keep track of your mileage, or
set a goal of bicycling for 60 minutes.
The type of exercise you choose is up to you.
The important thing is that you start exercising and keep doing it. Exercise
relieves much of the pain fibromyalgia causes. Some people even find that
exercise makes all their pain go away. You will also feel better if you have
some control over your own care and well-being.