Analyzing a Fibro Flare
I’m in the middle of one of the worst flares of fibromyalgia pain I’ve had for many years. I always try to figure out what triggers a flare so that I can at least attempt to prevent a similar experience in the future. After 18 years, I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what I can and can’t do.
I know I can’t plan too many activities in any given week. I’ve also learned to hibernate in my air-conditioned house in the summer months because the heat makes me terribly ill. And, like most people with fibromyalgia, I’ve discovered that any change in weather will cause at least a mild flare. But this one caught me by surprise.
What’s unusual about this flare is the level of pain. My pain has been pretty well controlled and manageable for more than five years now. With most flares I ache a lot more and am extremely fatigued, but the level of serious pain doesn’t increase that much. But this time the pain is significantly worse. My body feels like one giant muscle spasm.
So what triggered this nasty flare? The best I can figure out is that several small triggers occurred - one right after the other - creating a pile-up effect. There were a couple of days that I had a little more physical activity than normal. The weather was all over the place - from windy with snow to warm and sunny. Then finally (and probably most importantly), there were several personal stressors and professional deadlines that seemed to all come at once.
I’ve long held the belief that stress is the strongest and worst trigger of all. This experience has only increased my conviction. Although it’s impossible to avoid all stress in life, I could have greatly reduced its intensity with better planning and less procrastination. This flare has taught me an important lesson about the price I pay when I allow myself to get into stressful situations that could have been prevented. I have a newfound determination to avoid a repeat performance.
Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.