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Monday, January 9, 2012

Baffled by a Fibromyalgia Flare-up That Came Out of Nowhere?

Welcome to another Question of the Week.

Right now, a lot of us living with chronic illness are experiencing symptom flare-ups that seem to have come out of nowhere.  These flare-ups are sure making our lives miserable.

I've been struggling with new onset severe low back and hip pain since December 23rd.  It feels like it's turning into the pain that just won't go away!  So after I finished being perplexed and puzzled, I put on my thinking cap and started investigating it like a fibromyalgia scientist.

What?  You don't know how to be your own fibromyalgia scientist?  Here, let me show you:

My Observations

I had immediate pain after the scooter ride on December 23.  I underestimated that new pain and continued running errands later that evening.  I also spend the 24th doing all the Christmas tasks I put off until the last minute. That resulted in the pain getting much worse for the following two or three days.

On the 25th and 26th, I was in full flare-up management mode, resting more, cutting way back on my activities, taking my flare-up medications and using ice and heat to manage the pain.  With these efforts, the pain started getting a little bit better by December 27th.

Then the pain started getting much worse around December 29th.  On December 30th, I woke up with a sore throat and felt feverish.  I immediately cut back on my activities, started resting more and starting taking my flare-up medications again.  After a few days, I noticed that the pain started improving as I fought off whatever viral illness I had.

By January 6th the pain was much more tolerable: not completely gone but resolved enough that I started adding activities back into to my schedule.  I decided I was ready to help my hubby take down our low-altitude outdoor holiday decor on Saturday January 7th.  That night and the following day my low back pain came roaring back with a vengeance.

So, for the third time, I was back in flare-up management mode...

My Analysis

  • Sometimes you have no idea that something is going to flare you up, like my bumpy scooter ride. The good news is you can take this new knowledge and brainstorm ways to prevent it from happening again.

  • There are also some flare-up triggers that are completely out of your control, like getting a cold or the flu or the weather becoming cold, damp and miserable.  If a flare-up seems to come out of nowhere, these might be the culprits.

  • Once you are flared-up, making the decision to push yourself instead of cutting back will definitely make your flare-up worse.  You have to decide if pushing is worth the payback AND accept the consequences.

  • It usually takes longer to recover from a flare-up that we expect.  It is hard to be patient, but jumping back into the swing of things when you first start to feel better might result in a relapse of your flare-up symptoms.

My Conclusions

What can I say?  This has been the perfect storm of flare-up causes and exacerbators, some out of my control and some definitely within my control, all jumbled up together.

In retrospect, I could have made some different choices which might have gotten me out of this flare-up cycle by now.  Ah, but I live and learn.  So now my number one priority is to get this flare-up calmed down and under control in the next two weeks, barring any further complications out of my control.

(Two weeks might seems like a long time, but considering that this pain has been around for the last 17 days, maybe I should revise my plan to three weeks!)

What About You?

Now that I have shared my method for being a fibromyalgia scientist, do you have a new understanding of your current flare-up symptoms?

I'd love for you to share what you have discovered as well as how you cope with painful flare-ups.  As always, I welcome you comments here or over at the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page.

If you are having a hard time implementing my suggestions, feel free to drop me a line using the Contact Me link under my blog header.  Perhaps together we can figure out the cause of your flare-up and some steps you can take to help you get back into control of your fibromyalgia self-care.


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5 comments

Chelle said...

I flare up every time the weather changes. Summers are actually worse for me with the high pressure. The best weather is chilly and rainy, which seems to be counter-intuitive.

I will push myself even when I know I'm going to flare and then be really sorry later. But I have become acutely aware of what will cause a flare up. It's a matter of deciding whether I can live with the flare in order to do the activity.

I will put this to the test when I travel to South Carolina later this month for a five day visit with my parents. I've never handled travel well, so I figure it will be at least a two week recovery from the trip. Not only will I be traveling, but I will also be helping my disabled mother while I am there to do some shopping and set up her new sewing room in their new house. I am not on board with this move of theirs because of the fibro that is going to make it so hard for me to visit!

Hugs and hope you feel better,
Chelle
www.lifeonthedomesticfront.blogspot.com

Cheyenne said...

I had a similar experience during the holidays. I started with a flare up on Dec 21 and was surprised with how much pain it caused in my lower back. On Dec 25 I realized I had shingles. sigh. I've had it before and it comes when I'm very run down. It's a miserable thing to have; itchy chicken-pox type of rash and extremely painful muscles.

I just started feeling better yesterday. The pain is bearable to the point I felt okay today.

I agree with you about your points for managing flare ups. I know this latest one of mine was caused by overworking. I still work full time and I'm trying to cut back to 4-days a week to prevent so many flare ups. My employer is not on board though so we'll see what happens.

Thank you for this blog. I am a new reader to it and have enjoyed it for the last few weeks. It's sooooo good to know I'm not alone!

Best regards,
Cheyenne

Anonymous said...

I've had trouble getting my comments to go through so I'm trying the anonymous setting but this is Pam from Boomer Back-Beat. I've had Fibro for a long time and my flare ups come in winter. It starts with not being able to sleep, which makes me ache all over. If I can go somewhere the sun shines, I improve immediately but if I can't, I've found these things help. First, I have to make sure I sleep and I work with my doctor and rotate several older, mild medications that help me sleep. Then newer sleep meds make me crazy. I can't take antidepressants either but I can take an amino acid 5htp which is what the body used to produce seretonin. I only have to take it from the end of October until the end of February. Two other amino acids I take are GABA and Taurine. I think my fibro is related to the hep c infection I had for over 30 years and my cirrhosis. People with hep c have difficulty with the liver converting food into amino acids and taking certain amino acids were almost, miraculous in how much better they make me feel. Fibro is what I call a trash can diagnosis meaning, doctors don't know what causes it,it probably has several causes, but since they don't know for sure, they throw all complaints with the same symptoms in a can caleed Fibromyalgia. I bought a temperpedic matress that really helped and I cleared the hep c virus going on three years ago now. Clearing the virus made a big difference in the number of myalgias I have period. Hope this helps.

Pam

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
I'm beginning to have a flare up after a solid year of doing really well. At one point I was in so much pain and so swollen I couldn't walk.
So, this latest flare up, i noticed it after steam burning with my eyes (done 2 weeks ago). They healed but I still had a lot of pain and sensitivity. Then this past weekend I felt the telltale pain in my knees -you recognize that distinct pain and its implications :/
As a previous post-er mentioned it can begin with some type of "trauma", be it a cold or injury and ta-da!, you are in flare mode. So my eyes have healed but are now sensitive and seemed to have initiated the latest flare.
Just thought I would share. Best of health to everyone! -Tracey

Anonymous said...

I over do it on days i feel well and then i under do it because im in pain and have NO energy.I am no good at pacing.I have always been the all or nothing type...mostly all! I am so very greatful for the online support it gives me hope and man do I ever need it.Not only am i in severe pain(a lot!!) but become antisocial during flare ups (i know this is probably not the thing to do) but its hard for me to be with others because i get so aggitated so when i feel alone(that's often since it seems the only way people can really understand fm is to experience it) i go online to a support group and i always feel the love of my Higher Power showing me that iam NOT alone!