Tips for when you are in The Flare

I am in a Flare. The pain arching through me right now is difficult to describe to be honest. It is a deep, bone deep, throbbing ache that is at around a 8 on the pain scale. It is extremely distracting. It is gnawing. Grating. And that is when I am not moving. Moving is another story altogether. 

In this particular case it is from weather changes. We have been having hot weather and flash thunderstorms so the pain as a result as been pretty intense. Migraines, as you might expect, following suit.

It isn't only the specific keyed up areas of pain though. It is the body aches as well. Feeling just run down. And the extra bonus of fatigue. Not your normal fatigue... more bonus fatigue. Like the extra bonus pain. A flare-up is just FM Plus.

I am currently on tramadol slow release for my actual treatment, so I have nothing for a flare-up per sa. I have to work tomorrow so rest is out of the question. As is stress avoidance. So I'll be waiting it out. The approach I most often take, unfortunately. 

For me most flares come with overdoing it. I have limits, I just sometimes am not positive where they are or ignore them. Or, worse, the limit changes. One day I can walk for an hour with no consequences. The next day 15 minutes causes extreme pain and that pain increases exponentially the more I walk. So I engage in an activity, in moderation, expecting it to be fine and it is So not fine. FM can be unpredictable like that. 

Poor sleep is another common one for me. But it is unpredictable. Often is is more than one day of poor sleep that flares me. One day? That is par the course. And yes, it causes aches. But not flare-up pains and aches. Not FM Plus. But a few days of severely deprived sleep and I will flare big time. Even laying in bed to continue trying to sleep is too painful then.

When having a flare-up here are the tips:

  • Taking breaks- since they tend to occur during high stress we tend to not engage in self-care. If we just push through, we pay for it. We should try to help from others, at work as for extended deadlines and reschedule the things we can. Try to reduce the stress factors we Can. Take breaks during the day. Take short naps.
  • The say 'no' tip- In times of Flares it is really important to conserve your time and energy reserves. No, you can't take on extra work. No, you can't do that favour for a friend or the school. No, you an't babysit at this time. You don't need to use an excuse, because you don't need to validate your illness, just a polite not at this time. You just cannot take on any more at this specific time.
  • Sleep- Sleep is always a factor for us. And adequate sleep is more important during a flare. Keep to a regular sleep cycle. Get 8 or 9 hours. Only take short naps during the day, as to not disrupt night time sleep.
  • Relaxation- Take time for mindful meditation, relaxation breathing or biofeedback... whatever works for you. As well as any pain distraction methods you use; like soothing music, reading or binging on Netflix.
  • Pacing- We can keep doing activities, at a slower pace, which has been found to be better than no activities at all. But we need to know our limits. Slow and steady. We can incorporate some very gentle stretching, walking or light yoga. If you have an exercise routine already, consider decreasing intensity during a flare.
  • Pain management- Use your medications following the schedule you use to manage pain. If they are not sufficient ask your doctor about breakthrough medications. Use alternative treatments you might find effective; acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback and other therapies to help with pain management.
  • Support- Flares are an emotionally heightened time and can be difficult to deal with and sometimes talking about it helps. So utilize any support groups you belong to. Either online, in real life, or the people in your support system like friends and family.
  • Baths- I always recommend a nice soothing Epsom salt bath to ease some muscle pain.

Generally you want to engage in your Self-care. You don't want to stop your routines, but be gentle and careful. Self-Care is vital at this time. Take things more slowly and methodically. Be gentle with yourself. Pace yourself. 

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