Did the Earth Move for You, Too?

According to recent study findings by Anthony S. Kaleth, PhD, associate professor at the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, whole-body vibration exercise effectively reduced the severity of pain in patients with fibromyalgia.

146. best exerciseBUT it is not entirely clear whether these improvements were the result of added vibration or just the effects of being more active.

24 women with FM were randomly assigned to either 8 weeks of twice-weekly, lower-body, progressive-resistance exercise with whole-body vibration or an attention control group. Whole-body vibration involved patients standing, sitting or laying on a vibrating platform to induce alternating muscle contraction and relaxation.

Patients were assessed at baseline and at 8-week follow-up for fibromyalgia-related physical function, pain severity and muscle strength.

The researchers found a significant improvement in pain severity among patients in the whole-body vibration group compared with controls, but the magnitude of muscular strength improvement was not different between groups.

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Sometimes a Duck is…

So, it’s Winter in Australia – not as cold as some places but, still, too cold for me.

I have been suffering from intense pain in my rib-cage and chest. The aching and stabbing pain felt like I had broken and bruised ribs.

Bloody hell! I thought, it’s that awful costochondritis AGAIN!!!

For over a week, every morning I was waking up in extreme pain. It seemed to dissipate by the time it was bed-time. But then, it would all start again.

After a week of agony and really cold weather, I finally realised that I was sleeping all curled up, in the foetal position, and it was my own elbows causing all that pain!

Sometimes a duck is just a duck!

117. fibro duck

Related Posts:

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Foggy with a Chance of Rain

We experience a complicated mix of symptoms (just ask all those doctors we visit), the most frequent of which are an overwhelming feeling of fatigue (this is my personal favourite!) and pain.

For those new to FM, one of its hallmarks can be very scary – Fibro Fog

119. fibro fog

Fibro fog is a complete and utter lack of energy (even after a full night’s sleep) that causes an inability to focus or concentrate. This exhaustion makes it difficult to exert mental or physical energy for anything.  Fibro fog is a real cognitive impairment that makes simple tasks, such as remembering names or following directions, difficult if not impossible. There are, however, a few ways to help that don’t involve medications (because sometimes it’s those medications that make the fog worse!)

  • Pace yourself. Don’t pile on too many tasks for each day, and the ones that must get done should be scheduled for your “best” time of day. If the fog lifts more in the morning, schedule important meetings or other tasks early.
  • Develop a routine. This gives a predictable structure to the day so there is less need for remembering what is supposed to happen when.
  • journal picKeep it simple. Write lists, take notes, and utilize a personal planner. Keep your space organized and clutter-free, and deal with any paper (mail, bills, etc.) as soon as you get it to stay organized.
  • Get physical. People with FM report that physical activity relieves the painful symptoms, and research shows that moderate daily activity eases symptoms of depression and encourages better sleep.
  • Control your stress. There is a strong link between stress and chronic pain; practice deep breathing, visualization, and other meditative techniques to deal with or plan for stressful situations!

There are some new online brain-training sites such as Lumosity that have shown some promise in helping people develop concentration, flexibility in thinking, and otherwise increasing the neuroplasticity of the brain. These are free or low-cost, easy to try, and may help lift the fog over time.

For families of FM patients, it is important to understand that fibro fog is real. Be supportive and help to keep schedules reasonable and stress to a minimum. Participate in physical activity with your loved one, and help them to remember important events. The more stress you can alleviate, the better off everyone will be!

It’s March (almost)

Suffering with a chronic condition can be extremely frustrating, making you feel lonely and misunderstood.
Developing and nurturing a support system can make some of these horrible ‘side effects’ just that little bit better.

BUT do you know the best places to locate these oh-so-valuable resources? That’s what the latest issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA is about… and it will be out and in your InBoxes tomorrow.

Have you subscribed? It’s free, fun and might actually help you.

Subscribe now by clicking here.

March Cover

Just in Time for Christmas

What do you want for Christmas?

FibroModem Girl wants a cure for Fibromyalgia!

You can wear this new cartoon on your chest or above your heart by visiting the FibroModem Cafepress store.FB Xmas

Young and Hard

A new study reveals that young and middle-aged FM patients report worse symptoms and poorer quality of life than older patients.

The study included 978 FM patients who were divided into three age groups: 39 and younger, 50 to 59, and 60 and older. The younger and middle-aged patients were more likely to be employed, unmarried, smokers, have a higher education level and lower body-mass index (BMI). They were also more likely to have a history of abuse.

(And you might say obviously) The younger and middle-aged patients had FM symptoms for a shorter length of time than older patients, the study authors said.

chronic comic 181“Among the three age groups of young, middle-aged and older, symptom severity and quality of life differs,” study senior author Dr Terry Oh, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a clinic news release.

The findings were surprising, because older people generally have poorer quality of life and physical health than younger people, Oh said.

The researcher noted that female FM patients in all three age groups reported a lower quality of life than the average U.S. women, and that the difference between their physical health and that of the average woman was more significant than mental health differences, particularly in young patients.

Because the studies were presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Lyrica(l) Depression

Pregabalin (Lyrica®) can significantly improve FM pain in people who also are being treated for depression, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Meeting in San Diego. And my recent slow tapering off of Lyrica, and then returning to it (after way too much pain) confirmed this to me.

chronic comic 189I also suffer from depression. In fact, 50 to 70 per cent of people with FM report a lifetime history of depression, and approximately 25 per cent have a history of taking antidepressants.

Pregabalin is approved for the treatment of FM in the United States, Japan, Australia and other countries. But, because prior studies excluded the use of antidepressants in treatment, information about the effectiveness and safety of pregabalin for the treatment of pain in people with FM who are also being treated with antidepressants for their depression is lacking.

“Depression is common in patients with fibromyalgia,” explains Lesley M. Arnold, MD; professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience; University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; and lead investigator in the study. “Many patients present to their doctor for treatment of fibromyalgia pain already taking antidepressants for their depression. This is the first study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of pregabalin for treatment of fibromyalgia pain in patients who are also taking antidepressants for depression.”

288. rate your painWith this in mind, researchers completed a study to determine if pregabalin would affect pain levels in people with FM who were also being treated for depression. The study included 197 patients who were, on average, 50 years of age and overwhelmingly white females. To join the study, patients had to meet the 1990 ACR Criteria (including manual tender point exam), have an average pain level of at least four out of 10 on the Numeric Rating Scale, (0 = no pain and 10 = worst possible pain), have a documented diagnosis of depression and be taking a stable dose of an antidepressant medication — either a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (such as Celexa®, Lexapro®, Prozac®, Paxil® or Zoloft®) or a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (such as Cymbalta®, Effexor®, or Pristiq®). The antidepressant treatment was continued throughout the study.

Patients were on study treatment for a total of 14 weeks. There were two six-week treatment periods when patients received either pregabalin or placebo, with a two-week break in between these periods. Each patient was randomly assigned to receive either pregabalin in the first six weeks, then placebo in the last six weeks, or to receive placebo first, then pregabalin. None of the patients knew which treatment they were receiving at any point in the study. Pregabalin was started at a dose of 150mg per day, and increased to 300-450mg per day, based on each patient’s response; this dose was continued for the rest of the treatment period.

Chronic Comic 157At the beginning of the study, the average pain score amongst participants was 6.7. The average pain score dropped to 4.84 after treatment with pregabalin and to 5.45 after treatment with placebo. Pregabalin treatment significantly improved patients’ pain compared to placebo.

Side effects were reported in 77.3 per cent of those on pregabalin and 59.9 per cent of those on placebo. For pregabalin treatment the most common events were dizziness (28.2 per cent) and drowsiness (19.9 per cent). A total of four serious adverse events were reported; however, the researchers concluded these events were not related to the treatment.

“The results of this study demonstrate that pregabalin is safe and effective in reducing fibromyalgia pain in patients who are also taking an antidepressant to treat their depression,” says Dr Arnold.

Loneliness is the Most Terrible Poverty

I’ve  been feeling so lonely and isolated recently – so much so that I am having trouble writing and even connecting with you.

That’s why Tracy’s (from Oh! What a Pain in the…) blog post has rung so true with me…and I have to share it with you.

Why Pain is So Lonely

Accredited Member

From Oh! What a Pain in the…, an accredited member of FCK – THE blog directory for people about & with Fibromyalgia

Many people in Chronic Pain feel very alone sometimes, myself included. There is a big reason for that loneliness, mainly the fact that YOU are the one in pain. Despite how much we wish our doctors or loved ones could feel our physical pain in order to understand and validate how we feel, there is no device that will allow us to hook our pain receptors up to another person (but we can all hope for that one day). No one else can feel YOUR pain.

70. never aloneWe may not be alone in our journeys, but we are, essentially, alone in our pain. Additional factors that contribute to loneliness for those living in chronic pain include:

  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Inability to do activities outside of the house
  • Inability to work
  • Marital problems resulting from emotional issues connected with chronic pain
  • Strained relationships with family and friends

Loneliness is often not our choice. I did not choose to have back problems and other health issues. I did not choose for my pain to change me. I did not choose to have relationships lost as a result of what this life has done to me. But loneliness is very common for people in chronic pain. And it has a lot to do with the factors listed above. Chronic pain makes many people depressed, feeling hopeless, and therefore many isolate, choosing to stay home and not socialize.

For some it is difficult to get out of the house. I am able to leave the house and go to the gym for physical therapy, I can spend time with friends and family, but like most, my time is limited. My back has a time limit for standing, sitting, walking, so things like travel, or long event are difficult. But, going out for a little while doesn’t always help the loneliness, especially if pain increases when returning. Sometimes being with others is wonderful but then the recovery is painful and can perpetuate the cycle of depression, isolation and loneliness.

I try to fight loneliness where I can though. I can’t do anything about the marriage issues that have arisen as a result, but I can use my support system. I actually find that since my separation I do a lot more. I have a weekly dinner date with my niece and nephew, I see my best friend most weeks, go to my classes, spend time with my family. I didn’t realize how much I had isolated until all of this happened. I am very lucky to have a supportive system, but at the same time, sometimes you can be with 10 people and still feel alone because people don’t understand what you are going through. As I have said, the bottom line is YOU are the one in pain and you can explain it, give examples, try to make others understand, but it is still YOUR pain.

How do you deal with loneliness?

Time is of the Essence

“Next Tuesday, we’re going shopping,” says my Mommy.

Monday arrives and I haven’t forgotten that we are going shopping on Monday; I just haven’t realised that it IS Monday.

One of my big problems is keeping track of time, especially dates. Birthdays and special events creep up on me and catch me unprepared all the time. I know when things are supposed to happen. I hear when some-one tells me about something. I also know how long it is supposed to take me to get ready to leave the house – I really hate being late, but I can’t seem to get a handle on this particular issue.

Like Adrienne Dellwo has said:

The farther out something is planned, the worse it seems to be. It’s like my brain files it under the heading “months away” and then never updates it to “next week.” If something is set for tomorrow or a week from Thursday, I do pretty well. Those things apparently go into the “really soon” file and stay more on the radar.

There’s a learning disability called dyscalculia – a learning disability that deals with math. It is similar to dysphasia, which includes those word-finding difficulties so many of us have. Dyscalculia not only impairs math and number abilities (forgetting concepts, transposing numbers), it also involves:

  • Difficulties with time: inability to remember schedules, keep track of time, or remember a sequence of events.
  • Spacial problems: impaired direction sense and memory of how things are laid out, leading to frequently getting lost or becoming disoriented.
  • Difficulty sight-reading music or learning instrument fingerings.
  • Inability to remember names.

72. manufacturers warrantyResearch shows that dyscalculia involves dysfunction in a specific part of the brain – all of the above problems stem from the same cause. It means that this is ONE problem only; and not a whole lot of unrelated issues being attributed to FM.

This doesn’t necessarily make me feel better after being at the casino last week and not being able to work out the action on the Craps table (I was a Craps dealer/supervisor for 14 years!)

Dyscalculia can occur as the result of some types of brain injury, in which case the proper term is acalculia (or Acquired Dyscalculia), to distinguish it from dyscalculia which is of innate, genetic or developmental origin.

Dyscalculia isn’t something you can take a pill for – it’s something you have to live with. Scientists have yet to understand the causes of dyscalculia. 119-fibro-fogThey have been investigating in several domains including short-term memory being disturbed or reduced, making it difficult to remember calculations (Does this sound like Fibro Fog to you?) I haven’t found any scientific research that says that FM causes Dyscalculia (if you do, please share it with all of us!) but it certainly makes it worse.

The good news(?) is that it is a recognised learning disability, just like dyslexia or dysphasia. If it causes problems for you at work/school, you can talk to your boss/teacher about having this learning disability without having to disclose that you have FM, or trying to explain brain fog.