The terrible advice given to fibromyalgia patients

Today I stumbled across a the fibromyalgia article found here. I have to admit, I gagged a little bit when I read it. I think this embodies all the problems with fibromyalgia in one lousy article. These are the suggestions that us fibromites hear over and over again:

Suggestion 1- Get more sleep.
It’s not that easy folks, people with fibromyalgia have big problems getting to sleep and staying asleep. Add to that horrific pain, and it makes makes for a lot of sleepless nights.

Suggestion 2- Exercise

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told exercising would fix my problems. Here’s the problem though, Saturday was a beautiful day so I spent 20 minutes weeding my flower beds which were in dire need of some attention. Here it is Monday and I am still in so much pain I can hardly walk, all from spending 20 minutes pulling weeds. Imagine what would happen if I tried to run or lift weights.

Suggestion 3- Make adjustments at work

I don’t have much criticism here since I can’t currently hold down a job.

Suggestion 4- Eat healthy food

Ok, I’ll give them that one, it is incredibly important to eat healthy, but there is no diet cure for fibro.

Suggestion 5- Find ways to control pain by asking a  doctor

If only it were that easy. Many doctors are reluctant to hand out pain pills because they are afraid of getting in trouble. Especially doctors who treat many chronic pain patients, they have to worry about being investigated for handing out too many narcotics.  Also, many patients who ask for pain meds are labeled drug seekers, and then it’s impossible to get help after that.

Suggestion 5- Get support from your friends and family

Of course support from friends and family is important, but most people don’t want to be friends with someone who is chronically ill. Also many people are in situations where their family and friends think they are faking, since fibro is not a easily identified disease with a blood test.

I guess my point with all this is that life is not as easy as these articles try to make it, and when people write simplistic articles like this one it only hurts fibromyaglia patients. I’d appreciate an article about real concrete ways to live a better life with chronic illness.

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3 thoughts on “The terrible advice given to fibromyalgia patients

  1. Given as advice from someone who doesn't understand, yes, this is belittling and narrow minded. From someone who is truly trying to improve their quality of life with fibromyalgia, however, this is exactly what we need.
    My doctor wants me to focus on sleep, exercise, and nutrition. This means that he is working with me to find ways to manage pain and aid sleep so I can improve my quality and quantity of sleep. On my own, I could not make this change, but it is important to improving my overally health. Therefore, this is one thing we're focusing on — improving my quality of sleep.
    He has also said he wants me to start exercising. He specifically said he does not want me jumping into a standard exercise regimen. I have started attending a water aerobics class geared towards senior citizens once a week. It wears me out for a few days, but has not cause significant increases in pain. He wants me to increase my exercise VERY gradually. He said when I'm able to increase exercise I should do so only a few minutes at a time. I will not be running a marathon soon. Or perhaps ever. But the exercise I am trialing is intended to enhance flexibility and range of movement, while improving strength very gradually.
    The third focus he recommends is nutrition. He never has claimed there is a magic cure for fibromyalgia. He does not expect me to change my diet radically over night (which just makes everything worse — I've tried that in the past). However, good nutrition WILL help overall.
    The other suggestions of getting help and making changes as necessary in your daily activities (whether that's in employment outside the home, or in simply living through the day) are also important. No, they won't cure anything. They can, however, reduce triggering actions or situations and help calm the flares.

    Yes, there are people who claim simple cures for this terrible disease. Yes, they are wrong. However, these things are not worth pushing aside because they seem over simplified. They are important aspects of improving our quality of life! There is no cure. But there's no reason to skip the little things that can calm the raging storm in our bodies! Just always apply common sense that people who suffer from fibromyalgia have developed over time. No reasonable person with fibro is going to assume weight lifting out of the blue is going to help!

  2. I don't think these are things that should be pushed aside, these are many of the key parts of fibro. However, this article is a gross oversimplification of the problem. Yes, if my pain was under control things would be better, yes if I slept more things would be better, but I get tired of people telling me if I would just sleep more or exercise more I would be cured. I feel the danger in articles like this (with no details) is that non fibro readers will think these things are the magic easy fix. I think fibro suffers KNOW these are the things that need to be fixed, but unfortunately we can't just snap our fingers and sleep better or have no pain. I do acknowledge that my response to the article may have been a bit overkill, but I tire of poorly written articles like these that give fibro suffers a bad name.

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