Fibromyalgia and Stress

The links between fibromyalgia and stress have now been well established. While the exact relationship is not fully understood, the research has made clear that stress influences fibromyalgia in a number of different ways.

When fibromyalgia patients learn to relax and manage stress, they can expect to see immediate and long-lasting benefits.

Stress and Fibromyalgia Susceptibility

Many researchers believe that stress can play a key role in patients’ susceptibility to fibromyalgia. Many fibromyalgia patients have a history of chronic stress, often due to overloading their schedules and taking on too much responsibility for other people such as family members. A high number of fibromyalgia patients are young women who have “Type A” personalities and who lead ambitious, busy, stressful lives. Men with fibromyalgia often have worked in jobs that have resulted in physical job-related stress.

The Role of Stress in the Onset of Fibromyalgia

Some researchers believe that the onset of fibromyalgia is triggered by an extremely stressful experience. While this stress may be associated with physical trauma, such as an auto accident, it also may be associated with psychological stress, such as emotional or physical abuse. Most scientists believe that stress is not the primary cause of fibromyalgia. However, there is evidence to suggest that both chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder may be significant factors in the onset of fibromyalgia.

How Stress Can Aggravate Fibromyalgia

For fibromyalgia patients, stress can also make the condition worse and can trigger particular physical symptoms. People who suffer from fibromyalgia often have trouble knowing their personal limitations, which can make it hard for them to know when they are in danger of overexerting themselves. When fibromyalgia patients physically overexert themselves, this can often lead to increased stress, which results in increased pain.

A vicious cycle can easily develop, because the pain can lead to more stress, which, in turn, can lead to more pain. For this reason, stress management can also help greatly with fibromyalgia pain management.

Ways to Relieve Stress

A fibromyalgia patient’s level of stress can directly influence their ability to deal with pain and other symptoms of the condition. In general, the more relaxed a patient becomes, the better they will be able to deal with the physical discomfort of fibromyalgia. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, here are a few ways you can relieve stress and relax:

  • Exercise – Regular aerobic exercise can make an enormous impact on your stress level. Start an aerobics class, play tennis, do yoga, or just go for a nice, long, relaxing walk. You’ll find that it can elevate your mood, relax your muscles, and even give you a feeling of being in more control over your symptoms.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques – One easy way to relax and relieve the stress of fibromyalgia is to practice relaxation techniques on a daily basis. Relaxation techniques for fibromyalgia are extremely effective in bringing immediate relief from stress and pain by simply calming the mind and the body.
  • Take a Warm Bath – A warm bath is another easy way to relax your mind and body. Try adding a few drops of lavender or another relaxing essential oil of your choice. Heat can decrease the level of stress hormones in your body and improve the range of motion of your muscles.
  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Fibromyalgia and sleep disorders can go hand in hand. Fortunately, there are many treatments for sleep disorders that can help you get more rest. Solving sleep problems can directly lead to a lessening of fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • Know Your Limitations – Do not over-commit yourself to work, family, and friends. Finding balance in your life is key to overcoming fibromyalgia, and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure you take enough time for yourself.

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