Fibromyalgia Documentary – Getting Our Lives Back from Dr Melissa Congdon

Dr Melissa Congdon
Dr Melissa Congdon

Dr Melissa Congdon is not just a doctor who treats fibromyalgia she is herself a person with fibromyalgia.

In this brilliant documentary she explodes so many of the myths around fibro and at the same time she shows people getting their lives back.

Please watch below. If you have any comments feel free to share in the comments section below.

Will President Trump be good for the Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune illness communities in America?

PPresident Trump and the Autoimmune Community
President Trump and the Autoimmune Community

Ten days ago I was in a discussion with a few friends about the recent US Presidential inauguration and the election in 2016 of President Trump.

Given we were all in the medical world we were interested in the impact of President Trump’s election on different aspects of healthcare. Not just the repeal of Obamacare!

I ran a poll to get a feel for the views of the multiple sclerosis community. And I have to say I found the diversity and intensity of the different position fascinating. For more see here.

So I am keen to extend this research to autoimmune conditions and fibromyalgia in particular. So it would be really great if you would share your views by taking part in the poll below.

If you have anything more to share please feel free to do so in the comments box below.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Self-help for fibromyalgia – some really great tips

Fibromyalgia -where doesn't it hurt
Fibromyalgia -where doesn’t it hurt

Self-help for fibromyalgia

If you have fibromyalgia, there are several ways to change your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms and make your condition easier to live with.

Your GP, or another healthcare professional treating you, can offer advice and support about making these changes part of your everyday life.

There are organisations to support people with fibromyalgia that may also be able to offer advice. Visit UK Fibromyalgia’s support group section for a list of support groups across the country. You may also find it helpful to talk to other people with fibromyalgia on this online community.

Below are some tips that may help relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia. You can also read more information about living with pain.

Exercise

As fatigue (extreme tiredness) and pain are two of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, you may find that you’re not able to exercise as much as you’d like. However, an exercise programme specially suited to your condition can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall health.

Your GP or physiotherapist (healthcare professional trained in using physical techniques to promote healing) can design you a personal exercise programme, which is likely to involve a mixture of aerobic and strengthening exercises.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic activities are any kind of rhythmic, moderate-intensity exercises that increase your heart rate and make you breathe harder. Examples include:

walking

cycling

swimming

Research suggests that aerobic fitness exercises should be included in your personalised exercise plan, even if you can’t complete these at a high level of intensity. For example, if you find jogging too difficult, you could try brisk walking instead.

A review of a number of studies found that aerobic exercises may improve quality of life and relieve pain. As aerobic exercises increase your endurance (how long you can keep going), these may also help you function better on a day-to-day basis.

Resistance and strengthening exercises

Resistance and strengthening exercises are those that focus on strength training, such as lifting weights. These exercises need to be planned as part of a personalised exercise programme; if they aren’t, muscle stiffness and soreness could be made worse.

A review of a number of studies concluded that strengthening exercises may improve:

muscle strength

physical disability

depression

quality of life

People with fibromyalgia who completed the strengthening exercises in these studies said they felt less tired, could function better and experienced a boost in mood.

Improving the strength of your major muscle groups can make it easier to do aerobic exercises.

Read more information and advice on health and fitness.

Pacing yourself

If you have fibromyalgia, it’s important to pace yourself. This means balancing periods of activity with periods of rest, and not overdoing it or pushing yourself beyond your limits.

If you don’t pace yourself, it could slow down your progress in the long term. Over time, you can gradually increase your periods of activity, while making sure they’re balanced with periods of rest.

If you have fibromyalgia, you will probably have some days when your symptoms are better than others. Try to maintain a steady level of activity without overdoing it, but listen to your body and rest whenever you need to.

Avoid any exercise or activity that pushes you too hard, because this can make your symptoms worse. If you pace your activities at a level that’s right for you, rather than trying to do as much as possible in a short space of time, you should make steady progress.

For example, it may help to start with gentler forms of exercise – such as tai chiyoga and pilates – before attempting more strenuous aerobic or strengthening exercises.

Relaxation

If you have fibromyalgia, it’s important to regularly take time to relax or practice relaxation techniques. Stress can make your symptoms worse or cause them to flare up more often. It could also increase your chances of developing depression.

There are many relaxation aids available, including books, tapes and courses, although deep-breathing techniques or meditation may be just as effective. Try to find time each day to do something that relaxes you. Taking time to relax before bed may also help you sleep better at night.

Talking therapies, such as counselling, can also be helpful in combating stress and learning to deal with it effectively. Your GP may recommend you try this as part of your treatment.

Read more about stress management.

Better sleeping habits

Fibromyalgia can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep (known as insomnia). If you have problems sleeping, it may help to:

get up at the same time every morning

try to relax before going to bed

try to create a bedtime routine, such as taking a bath and drinking a warm, milky drink every night

avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before going to bed

avoid eating a heavy meal late at night

make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, and is quiet and dark

avoid checking the time throughout the night

Fibromyalgia – What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness

It’s not clear why some people develop fibromyalgia. The exact cause is unknown, but it’s likely that a number of factors are involved.

Here are some of the main factors thought to contribute to the condition:

Abnormal pain messages

One of the main theories is that people with fibromyalgia have developed changes in the way the central nervous system processes the pain messages carried around the body. This could be due to changes to chemicals in the nervous system.

The central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) transmits information all over your body through a network of specialised cells. Changes in the way this system works may explain why fibromyalgia results in constant feelings of, and extreme sensitivity to, pain.

Chemical imbalances

Research has found that people with fibromyalgia have abnormally low levels of the hormones serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains.

Low levels of these hormones may be a key factor in the cause of fibromyalgia, as they’re important in regulating things such as:

mood

appetite

sleep

behaviour

your response to stressful situations

These hormones also play a role in processing pain messages sent by the nerves. Increasing the hormone levels with medication can disrupt these signals.

Some researchers have also suggested that changes in the levels of some other hormones, such as cortisol (which is released when the body is under stress), may contribute to fibromyalgia.

Sleep problems

It’s possible that disturbed sleep patterns may be a cause of fibromyalgia, rather than just a symptom.

Fibromyalgia can prevent you from sleeping deeply and cause fatigue (extreme tiredness). People with the condition who sleep badly can also have higher levels of pain, suggesting that these sleep problems contribute to the other symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Genetics

Research has suggested that genetics may play a small part in the development of fibromyalgia, with some people perhaps more likely than others to develop the condition because of their genes.

If this is the case, genetics could explain why many people develop fibromyalgia after some sort of trigger.

Possible triggers

Fibromyalgia is often triggered by a stressful event, including physical stress or emotional (psychological) stress. Possible triggers for the condition include:

an injury

a viral infection

giving birth

having an operation

the breakdown of a relationship

being in an abusive relationship

the death of a loved one

However, in some cases, fibromyalgia doesn’t develop after any obvious trigger.

Associated conditions

There are several other conditions often associated with fibromyalgia. Generally, these are rheumatic conditions (affecting the joints, muscles and bones), such as:

osteoarthritis – when damage to the joints causes pain and stiffness

lupus – when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in various parts of the body

rheumatoid arthritis – when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the joints, causing pain and swelling

ankylosing spondylitis – pain and swelling in parts of the spine

temporomandibular disorder (TMD) – a condition that can cause pain in the jaw, cheeks, ears and temples

Conditions such as these are usually tested for when diagnosing fibromyalgia.