Okay. So you’re having a flare. What does that mean? What can you expect? How long does it last? How can you explain this term to those that do not have fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or other chronic illness so that they can understand and help during those times? Better yet, how do I reduce (and recover from) fibromyalgia flares?
What are fibromyalgia flares?
Having a fibromyalgia flare means you are experiencing an increase in pain or symptoms. Just as fibromyalgia varies from person to person, so do flares. These flares oftentimes leave the person without energy and not able to enjoy their normal daily activities.
For me, having a flare means elevated or heightened:
I sometimes also experience heightened anxiety or bouts of depression.
How long do fibromyalgia flares last?
Just as the flare can vary from person to person, so does the length of the flare. They have been known to last a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. I’ve had flares last as long as three months.
What causes fibromyalgia flares?
There are many triggers for a flare.
Triggers could be:
- something you’ve eaten
- the weather
There are other triggers for flares, but these are the most common ones.
How can I reduce the chances of fibromyalgia flares?
Here are some ways to reduce the chances of a flare.
Reduce your stress
Find ways to relieve stress. Whether it’s going for a walk, curling up with a good book, or talking to a friend, releasing stress relaxes the body. Try these tips on relieving stress in your life.
Eat the good stuff, avoid the bad stuff
Living with fibromyalgia means having a stubborn gut. It knows what it wants and if it doesn’t get it, it will act out. Be sure to fill up with all the good stuff your body needs, and by avoiding the bad stuff, you’re also greatly reducing the chances of a flare. Read more about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a fibro diet.
Watch the weather
Drastic changes in the barometer can also affect your body and health. My grandmother, mom, and dad would say they could feel the bad weather coming into their bones. I never understood what they meant until I developed fibromyalgia.
Be sure to watch the weather forecast to prepare for cold or rainy weather. In the days leading up to, during, and following, you can get extra rest, drink plenty of fluids, and load up on self-care.
The Fibro Diet
According to research and other studies, there are foods that will relieve fibromyalgia symptoms and other foods that will worsen symptoms. It can be overwhelming to track which ones are to be avoided, which can be okay to consume in small amounts and the foods that should be avoided altogether.
Having a positive outlook on your illness can also help reduce the chances of a fibromyalgia flare. It’s not always easy, but having a better mindset can help you physically. Check out this article from Mental Health America about the benefits of staying positive.
Listen to your loved ones
My husband can tell when I’m doing something that could wind up in a flare, so he will give me warnings. These include ‘be sure to rest’, ‘don’t forget to drink water’, or something similar. When your loved ones help you in this way, take it to heart and know they say it out of love for you.
Know your limits
You know your physical and mental limits better than anyone. Be mindful of them and stay within those boundaries to avoid a full shutdown later. If you think it’s “worth the flare”, then try to do what you can during the event such as taking breaks, increasing fluids, etc.
Take plenty of breaks
When working in the yard, doing housework, or participating in a social event, be sure to take plenty of breaks. A good rule of thumb is to rest every 20 minutes of activity. The rest should be for ten minutes.
Make self-care a priority
Self-care should always be practiced. Love your body and don’t abuse it by pushing it too far. Self-care can be anything you enjoy doing. It could be working in the garden, going to a concert with friends, or reading a good book. Here are some great self-care gifts for fibromyalgia.
Must-Have Items to Minimize Fibromyalgia Flares
No matter how successfully you manage fibromyalgia symptoms, a flare is inevitable. Whether you lie in bed/on the couch and rest or you go about your typical day during a flare, these are must-have items to minimize fibromyalgia flares.
How can I recover from fibromyalgia flares?
There isn’t one treatment for a flare. A flare is an elevation of symptoms, so the treatment depends on what is flaring, and can even be a combination of treatments.
Plenty of rest
Your body needs plenty of rest during a flare. Lying on the couch, reclining in a chair, or being in the bed are ways to rest your body. Be sure to get up periodically to move your joints to prevent stiffness and improve circulation.
Drink your liquids
Being hydrated is important when flaring. Ensure the liquids you give your body are nourishing. Liquids include water, smoothies, or tea. My preference for a smoothie is one with lots of berries and chia seeds both of which are antioxidants (help with inflammation). Turmeric Ginger tea by Buddha Tea * is my favorite.
*I add a spoonful of honey infused with copaiba, lemon, and Thieves essential oils for overall support.
Pain Relief Cream
Applying a topical pain relief cream to the affected area (if there is one) can drastically help your body with recovering. There are lots of creams out there including cream with CBD oil and magnesium lotion, but the one I find most effective for relieving pain is the Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream. It helps relieve deep muscle and joint pain through the methyl salicylate and natural menthol components.
Soaking in a bath
Soaking in a warm bath is great for your achy joints and body. Adding some Epsom salt or magnesium bath flakes (this is what I use) would be extra soothing.
Treatment can also include: