National Fibromyalgia Association
1. ALWAYS believe in yourself emotionally and physically. No one can tell you what you are experiencing is not real! FM is a chronic medical disorder just like diabetes, hypertension, & asthma. While there are still gaps in our complete understanding of FM, the symptoms are real, & patients’ concerns are legitimate.
2. NEVER feel guilt for your illness. FM isn’t something you wished for & it isn’t something you can wish away. FM is not a character flaw, it’s a neurological disorder.
3. FIBROMYALGIA can wax and wane, so on the days that are extra-challenging, remember it will get better. FM is much more than just pain. In fact, surveys of patients have consistently suggested that fatigue may be just as problematic. Other symptoms associated with the disorder include: sleep disturbances, stiffness, & problems with concentration referred to as “Fibro Fog”. Patient self-management techniques can help keep flares under control.
4. FIBROMYALGIA “affects” many more people than it “afflicts”. Everyone who knows someone with FM is affected. It is now estimated that more than 10 million Americans have FM, and it is considered a global health issue. Studies have shown that FM is a disorder of the central nervous system.
5. FIBROMYALGIA can sometimes make you feel very alone. Keep in mind that over 10 million Americans have FM and most feel like you do! Although there are standard criteria that have been established to help a health care provider to diagnosis FM, it is important to recognize that people with FM can experience variations in their symptoms. Since systems which send pain signals and interpret pain signals in the brain involve many different processes, it is possible that different types of problems can arise, in different people.
6. FIND ways to improve your quality of life. It is important to find health care providers who want to partner with you along your journey. Ideally, the relationship between
a healthcare provider and a patient should be comfortable and based on mutual respect.
7. EDUCATION is empowerment! Learn as much as you can about FM and then put what you’ve learned into practice. Often simple remedies can have a big impact on your health – and the more you know, the more options you will have. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval of drugs specifically to treat fibromyalgia. Some patients have experienced significant benefit in terms of reduced pain from these medications.
8. DON’T MAKE DECISIONS while in terrible pain. Never make rash decisions, especially when you are hurting! Finding a treatment strategy that works best for you may take time. Be open-minded and know that improvement will occur over time.
9. REMEMBER to be good to yourself. Every day should include activities that make you happy. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Management techniques are key. Control your sleep hygiene, find motivational techniques that will keep you active, & eliminate stress through life-style management.
10. EVERY DAY advances are being made in awareness, research, and the treatment of FM. There are all kinds of organizations and companies that are working to secure a better future for people with FM.