Fibromyalgia and Pain: weather, exercise, stress and excitement

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional and mental states” , Carol Welch feb-2-07-011

For those of us with FMS acute pain can be exacerbated by weather changes such as rain, exercise that may only be slightly strenuous, minimal or major stress, excitement that may even be happy, flu and colds or other health or emotional upheavals. The list seems endless. The types of pain vary as well, for example, there is a difference between acute and chronic pain.

Acute pain can be experienced as sharp shocks throughout the body, focussed on one area of muscles like one limb, as in a knife-like attack, or even cramping gut pain that brings on an attack of colitis. Chronic pain can be dull, unrelenting, excruciating and often difficult to describe in a language to others who have not lived with FMS.

Acute pain can be anywhere in the body and of any type; it can strike at any time and leave us wondering what we have done in the past 24-48 hours to bring on the fresh attack. Or, pain has become so familiar  as a chronic companion that we cannot remember what life was like before FMS.

Our stories can vary but they are usually alike when we speak with one another on a rainy, or damp, or humid, or cold or snowy day. Often a change in barometric pressure will be signalled by an intense physical reaction, like the canary in a coal mine. The signal is about an acute attack coming on. For some it can cause extreme itching, intestinal upsets, extreme debilitating fatigue, emotional lability or other precursors to an acute attack. Then the acute phase of the pain sets in. We long for the weather to stabilize, hoping for a short period of respite. We prefer the chronic known pain that lives with us on a daily basis.

In spite of all the factors that impede us on a daily basis, movement is the key to help us regain, or at least maintain some degree of mobility and strength. This is not without many challenges. The old adages: “Rest means rust” and “If you don’t use it, you lose it” are truisms. We must begin to slowly and gently move about to work through the constant pain or the stress levels continue to increase. It becomes a vicious cycle; the pain begets more pain.

Long without many drugs for pain we have relatively recently found that Gabapentin (Neurontin) and now Pregabalin (Lyrica) will provide some degree of relief from both acute and chronic pain. We cannot control the weather, nor can we hide from life, but there is something that can dull the pain. Nonetheless, embracing medications on a long term basis is not without disadvantages. The longer we take a dosage, the more we need to increase it over time. The side effects of most pain medications are often numerous, like constipation, weight gain, drowsiness, dry mouth and these can be among the less serious side effects.

Do we want more new medications or do we want more emphasis on the causes that have created a huge population of mostly women inflicted with this syndrome, so that others will not suffer as we have? Perhaps we wish for both. Finding more drugs to help with pain does not give us the answers we need. In my book I address these issues and theorize about why women are more prone to fibromyalgia than men. In the meantime I wish the rain would go away! I need to get out and take a short,gentle walk, but not undertake vigorous exercise! downloaded-easter-0431

Leave a Reply