The Daily Struggle of Fibromyalgia Stiffness

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Fibromyalgia: More symptoms in the morning

Not everyone with fibromyalgia has these morning symptoms, but they’re quite common. This is one of those areas medical research hasn’t yet explained, so we can’t say why we get them. We also don’t know a lot about alleviating them, other than what we learn through trial and error.

“When clinicians are asked which symptoms are the most debilitating in patients with fibromyalgia, the most common responses include pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances,” states lead author of a recent study by Robert Bennett, M.D., of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

He adds patients also report stiffness as an important symptom. And who wouldn’t complain about waking up each morning to a body that feels like the final stages of rigor mortis?

Causes of morning stiffness

 It’s fairly normal for us to wake up feeling stiff and achy all over or to have a hard time standing up straight for a while. For many of us, the achiness tends to be different from other fibromyalgia pain. It’s often more like the muscle pain a healthy person would feel the day after a really strenuous activity or possibly a minor car accident.

It could simply be inactivity

It’s not clear why our bodies are like this in the mornings, but some experts suggest that it could simply be inactivity. While we may feel pretty sedentary most of the time, people watching us often say that we’re fidgety. What happens is that our position makes something start to hurt, so we’ll shift a little. Then something else starts hurting, so we shift again. It’s possible that we’re stiff in the morning because we haven’t shifted around enough all night.

Allodynia

For those of us with a pain type called allodynia, even the brush of a sheet against your skin or a wrinkle in your pajamas can cause searing pain. Some people refer to fibromyalgia as the “princess and the pea” syndrome because, yes, we feel the tiniest things. Click Here to read in detail on Allodynia and Fibromyalgia

Temperature sensitivity

A lot of people with this condition complain of getting too hot and/or sweaty to sleep well. Temperature sensitivity is common in this disorder, and not just sensitivity to heat. A hand sticking out of the covers may get chilled to the point of discomfort or even severe pain, and we can take a long time to warm up. We’re also prone to excessive sweating. Read More on how to handling heat sensitivity in fibro

 

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Try the following tips to help soothe fibromyalgia pain and ease into your day

1. Take a Warm Shower or Bath

One of the quickest and easiest things you can do to lessen morning pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of fibromyalgia is harness the healing power of water. “Warm showers or baths at bedtime and in the morning will help to relax muscles, and offer a fair amount of relief,” says Nicholas P. Scarpa, MD, a rheumatologist and medical director of the Arthritis Center of New Jersey. “Stay in the warm water for at least 10 minutes to obtain maximum relaxation.” Click here to read the showering problems in fibromyalgia and their solutions

2. Practice Healthy Sleep Habits

Scarpa believes that getting a good night’s sleep might be the most important step in minimizing morning pain and stiffness for fibromyalgia patients. “Some tips to consider achieving longer and ‘better’ sleep include not watching TV or doing work in the bedroom at night,” he says.

Also, he adds, be sure to keep your bedroom temperature at a comfortable level a room that’s too cold will increase stiffness, and one that’s too warm can cause muscle aches and increased pain. Other tips: “Exercising during the day will increase restful sleep at night. Finally, do not sleep during the day.”

3. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine

Thinking about a nightcap, a smoke, or a cup of coffee before bed? Think again. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can disrupt restful sleep, which can make pain and morning stiffness even worse the morning after. “Many experts agree that caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol will exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms due to their stimulatory effects on the body, especially if consumed just prior to sleep,” says Dr. Scarpa. “These should be avoided or ceased as much as possible.

 

4. Give yourself a morning massage

First thing in the morning, gently rub your own shoulders, neck, arms and back. This will help you to loosen your muscles and make you feel your best while easing morning stiffness and pain.

5. Keep a Regular Schedule

Whether you have fibromyalgia or not, experts recommend setting a sleep schedule and trying to stick to it as much as possible, this is a good rule of thumb, however those who suffer from fibromyalgia know this is not always possible due to frequent sleep disruption. Continue to pay attention to your body and learn more about what works best for you.

6. Consider Melatonin

This natural supplement has helped many people with fibromyalgia pain get a good night’s sleep. “Melatonin is available over the counter and has been shown to improve the sleep hygiene in people who suffer from fibromyalgia,” says Bradley W. Carpentier, MD, a pain specialist in private practice in Austin, Texas. “You can enhance your natural melatonin production by being outside in sunlight during the daytime. This helps to regularize the normal secretion of melatonin.”

7. Give Tai Chi or Yoga a Try

Scarpa suggests incorporating either or both of these ancient stretching exercises into your morning routine to reduce morning pain related to fibromyalgia. “Physical stretching exercises such as yoga and tai chi in the morning as a routine will also help to minimize morning stiffness,” he says.

8. Be gentle and kind to yourself

You don’t have to take a road trip each day, but start your engine just in case you need to. Being gentle and kind to yourself are two different things; by all means be gentle on those days when you can’t seem to get moving or the pain is severe, but be kind by understanding that giving in to those conditions is ultimately to your detriment.

 

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References:

  • Besteiro González JL,et. al. Sleep architecture in patients with fibromyalgia. Psicothema. 2011 Aug;23(3):368-73.
    Check JH, Katsoff D, Kaplan H, et al. A disorder of sympathomimetic amines leading to increased vascular permeability may be the etiologic factor in various treatment refractory health problems in women. Medical hypotheses. 2008;70(3):671-7.
  • Morning symptoms of fibromyalgia by Adriene Dellwo via Verywell Health
  • Can Coffee help with the pain of fibromyalgia via Fibromyalgia Resources

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