I think that a person has to develop an individualized, multifaceted approach to their symptoms. For me, medication has made the most difference - made my life pretty normal after years of pain and other symptoms. But I also have to do multiple other things - several supplements – Vit. B, CoQ10, magnesium, calcium, chromium, heat in bed at night (electric blanket or mattress pad or water bed,) positioning with pillows when I sleep to allow muscles to relax, Yoga, moderate aerobic exercise – not to exhaustion. Before I was on meds, I used spicy food to help with the pain - spicy Asian foods, flaming hot Cheetos or pepperonicini peppers. Positive self talk is very important for me.
Dietary things - high protein breakfast and lunch and high carb dinner (rice, pasta - not food high in fructose), avoid some foods - e.g. large amounts of red meat, carbo loading when I'm pre-menstrual, drink alcohol in moderation and drink a lot of water during the end of an evening out (notice if some types cause more problems - for me it red wine and champagne,) Be aware that alcohol is initially sedating, but in about 4 hours it acts as a stimulant which can inhibit sleep.
Make sure my hormone levels are normal - for me that has been finding the right BCP or hormone patch (Triphasal sent me into a serious exacerbation, Ortho Novum pulled me out of it.) Realize that weight gains or losses impact hormone levels (I had a very bad exacerbation when I lost weight and forgot that I needed to increase the dose of my BCPs.)
Keep my back, chest and shoulder muscles loose so I can breathe easily and move my arms freely - my muscles had been so tight for years that when a Yoga teacher gave me exercises to get them to relax, it felt like my arms had become wings! Use an ergonomic keyboard that directs elbows to move away from the body and reduces shoulder tension.
Learn selective ignoring of the pain, but be careful. I'm so good at ignoring symptoms that when I had an acute appendix, I put off medical care for so long that I was septic before surgery.
When I was prescribed sedating medication - Trazadone and Elavil /amitriptyline (which work very well for me and are inexpensive) I cut up the pills and started by taking a smaller dose than was prescribed and gradually worked up to the dose that was right for me. (I've known other people to give up when the prescribed dose made them too sedated. Note that when you swallow a piece of an Elavil tablet, it might make a numb spot on your tongue for a few minutes, but it goes away. Elavil has topical anesthetic properties and is made with an enteric coating to prevent this sensation.)
Become the authority on your body. Find health care professionals who respect what you know about yourself and will work collaboratively!
Hope I don't sound like I'm preaching. I've lived with FM for 40 years and have learned a lot by trial and error. Hope it can help someone.
Post Edited (cgk) : 4/4/2011 3:40:46 AM (GMT-6)