Woman doubled over in pain with text overlay: 5 Tips for Dealing with an Increase in Fibromyalgia Symptoms

5 Tips for Dealing with an Increase in Fibromyalgia Symptoms

I’m not going to lie – last week was rough. When the weather starts to turn cool, my pain levels increase dramatically. This happens every year for some reason. Even though it happens every Fall, it still seems to take me by surprise each year.  When the severe pain returns and starts seriously impacting my ability to do things, it’s discouraging, and quite frankly, demoralizing.

When this pain kicks in, it’s easy to start feeling as if things are always going to be this way; that things are never going to get any better. I forget all the forward progress I’ve made over the previous months.

I go through this struggle every year, and every single time, I realize that even though I’m feeling worse than the weeks prior, I’m still feeling much better than I did at the same time the previous year. When I look back at the objective measures of how I’m doing, I start to see that regardless of how I’m feeling, I’ve made progress in many ways.

As I talked about in Lessons From the Grandpa Tree, when dealing with something like fibromyalgia, improvements are not linear. Fibromyalgia seems to have sort of an ebb and flow. There will be times when you feel absolutely awful, but there will also be times that you feel much better.

As I said, I deal with this every year, and over the years, I’ve discovered a few things are helpful for getting through this increase in symptoms.

5 Tips for Dealing with an Increase in Symptoms

1. Admit to yourself how you’re feeling.

I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel down or angry because I feel my body’s letting me down, I just try to press on and ignore it. That works for a little while, but it gets to the point where it just builds up until I can’t ignore it anymore. In the meantime, I’m not doing the things I need to do to feel better. Admitting there’s something going on gives us the opportunity to examine what’s bothering us and what we can do to fix it.

2. Take the time you need to adjust to what’s happening with your body.

If you need to take a day to feel sorry for yourself, do it. Sometimes we need to grieve what we feel we’ve lost, and that’s okay.

If it’s a couple of days’ rest you need, by all means, curl up in your comfy place and rest up.

3. Take an objective look at how things are going.

Having some objective measures of how we’re doing can help us see what’s really going on. It can help us know for sure whether we are getting worse in general, or whether it’s just that “ebb and flow” of fibromyalgia.

What are some of those objective measures? They might include things like what you can do now as compared to a given time before; ie, 6 months ago, a year ago, etc.; strength levels; activity levels…. whatever you’ve set as your measures of progress.

If you realize that your symptoms are, in fact, getting worse, it’s probably time to consult your doctor and work with your medical team to address things such as medications, lifestyle changes you can make, etc.

4. Make adjustments if needed.

Sometimes when symptoms get worse, we need to make adjustments to our self-care plans. Remember, our care plans aren’t set in stone; they’re simply our roadmaps to help us get where we want to be. It never hurts to reassess our plans and see if we need to tweak them.

5. Remember that the way you feel right now probably isn’t the way you’ll feel forever.

When we’re in so much pain and feeling defeated, it’s hard to believe that things will ever get any better, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. Remember – we can’t always trust our feelings – they lie. It’s important to examine our thoughts and discover whether they’re based on fact or whether they’re creating a false narrative for us.

Fibromyalgia can be tough to deal with, and there may be times that we get discouraged. Being able to objectively look at our symptoms enables us to determine whether things are worse long-term or whether it’s a temporary increase. Either way, learning what helps us navigate through the increases in pain and other symptoms can allow us to deal with them and move on. 

Of course, these are things that have been helpful for me, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work for everybody. We’re all created differently, and each person has to find what works for them.

How do you deal with increases in pain or other symptoms? What do you find most helpful? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

16 comments

    1. Thank you so much Alyssa! I know your pain has to be frustrating for you as well, and I think with MS, it can also be unpredictable, can’t it? I hope you find some of these tips helpful for dealing with your pain and other symptoms also. Sending hugs your way!

  1. Another wonderful post Terri. I have lived those terrified moments/hours/days when I am so scared that I will have to deal with the bad days as my “new normal” and being that scared only makes me feel worse. Your ideas will be put into place my next bad day! thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! It is terrifying, isn’t it, when your mind starts to trick you into thinking the bad days are the “new normal”? That’s when I really let my emotions get the best of me, but I’m learning to just allow myself to have a little “pity party” and then look at things objectively to see where I really am. Doing that allows me to deal with my fear, frustration, and discouragement, but then move forward instead of getting “stuck” where I am. Having those objective measures helps me see the whole story…. Blessings to you sweet friend!

      1. You are so right Terri! Being objective is so very important and not something I am very good at – but, like you, I am working on it daily and thankful that I now have moments that I don’t completely freak out! 🙂

  2. A good post with applicable tips for me and others who do not have Fibromyalgia but need a plan for the low days. As I age or when I broke my elbow, I feel old and find myself wishing for the energy I had in my younger days. Thank you for the reminder that it is ok to realize I can’t go today but to assess and be realistic. A rest day is helpful physically and mentally. Thank you for finding the energy to post these tips. Hoping for a better week for you.

    1. Thank you so much Sarah! It’s easy to feel discouraged when we can’t do things we used to, or feel like our energy has just slipped away. You’re still one of the most energetic people I know, though. Your heart for others is what keeps you going even when you don’t have the energy you used to. I’m glad you’re starting to realize it’s okay to rest and take care of yourself too. Thanks for listening to me whine when I’m having weeks like last week. I appreciate you more than you know. Sending love and hugs your way!

  3. Hi Terri,
    I totally get what your saying here! I go through a “better cycle” with FM then feel so shocked & demoralized when a flare hits! As I recently went through & felt.
    Your tips work for me too. 😀
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Jennifer. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been going through the same thing. At least we know we’re not alone…. I’m glad you’ve found things that work for you, and I hope things are looking up for you, sweet friend. Sending hugs!

  4. Oh Terri, I’m so sorry things have been so rough. You always try to be uplifting and look to the positives in order to encourage and support others, no matter how much you seem to be going through. You’ve made some really good points with these tips, especially (I think) actually acknowledging and admitting to yourself how you’re feeling. It can be like second nature to try to push on, ignore it, berate yourself, tell yourself you’ve got too much to do so just ‘suck it up’ and keep going. We need to give ourselves a break, because things can get tough when symptoms flare up and increase and throw us off whack. I find the winter particularly difficult too. Sending lots of gentle hugs your way xxxx

    1. Awww….thank you so much Caz! You’re such a ray of sunshine to me! I know there are many people who have to deal with a lot worse than me, so I try not to feel too sorry for myself when these things happen. Sometimes, though, I just have to let myself acknowledge that things are not what I’d like them to be. That gives me the space to deal with my feelings and then turn to the more practical ways of what I need to do to feel better. I’m sorry winter is hard for you also. Several people have said that, so it must be the cold that bothers us somehow. I hope you’re doing better than you were. Sending love and gentle hugs your way sweet friend!

  5. Timely post – I think our bodies are often on a parallel journey. The cold weather really does feel like it settles in our bodies. Your points are a good reminder to sit back and take stock. This is not forever, and there has been progress. As a side note, I was at the doctor yesterday, and neither of us could remember what the appointment was for. She had had a rough morning with emergencies, so I said she had a good reason for forgetting. “No, I don’t,” she responded firmly. “You do though.” It was an offhand remark, but a welcome confirmation that she understands the challenges.

    1. Thanks for sharing V.J.. There really does seem to be something about the cold weather that gets to many of us. It sounds like you’ve found a great doctor. It’s wonderful to have someone who “gets it.” I just saw my doctor Tuesday for my OMT, and I’m more impressed with her every time I see her. She’s extremely thoughtful about everything she does, and this time, I had some immediate relief from my hip pain. Sending hugs your way!

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