HFFCF - Helping Our Pain & Exhaustion (H.O.P.E.) - Fibromyalgia Guide & Treatments with Massage & Other Methods
Helping Our Pain & Exhaustion - or H.O.P.E. for short - was a non-profit organization with a mission to educate and support patients with fibromyalgia.
Lead by Sharon Ostalecki, PhD, the team behind H.O.P.E. has maintained the HFFCF website as a resource for people suffering from fibromyalgia, a common rheumatologic disorder. This condition is the main cause behind severe musculoskeletal pain, affecting approx. 10 million people in the United States alone.
The goal of the organization is to develop and help implement programs aimed for alleviating the pain and improving every day life for people suffering from fibromyalgia.
Diagnosis of the condition can involve a tender point exam or meeting specific criteria about pain throughout the body. To meat this, there must have been pain for at least 3 months in 4 out of 5 areas including the upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right and axial region.
Somatic symptoms such as muscle pain, fatigue or tiredness, abdominal pain, numbness, muscle weakness, headache, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, insomnia, chest pain etc. will also be considered.
Your doctor will likely conduct blood tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown but it is likely that a number of factors contribute to its onset. There are several theories from various researchers in the topic about the possible triggers.
- Injury or trauma of the nervous system or the musculoskeletal area.
- Neurological changes or disorders causing the brain to become sensitive to a lower threshold of pain than normal.
- Altered muscle metabolism causing fatigue and lower endurance.
- Infections such as Lume disease or Hepatitis C.
- Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) resulting in hormonal or psychological stress.
- Hormonal or genetic influences leading to a central nervous system disorder.
There is no single treatment to ease all the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Your best chance is a combination of medications, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies.
Some commonly used medications may help reduce pain and improve sleep. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, antidepressants, muscle relaxants and anti-seizure drugs may be prescribed by your doctor.
Proper stress management can greatly reduce the symptoms. Plan your day to give you enough time to relax. Try stress relief techniques such as deep-breathing exercises and meditation.
Regular exercise can improve posture and maintain stronger muscles. A new form of exercise can increase the pain at first but if you go slowly it will decrease symptoms. Walking, biking, swimming and stretching are all good choices.
Regular sleeping habits are essential to reduce fatigue which is a major component of the condition. Include daytime naps if you have to in addition to quality night sleep.
Physical therapy can help improve muscle strength and flexibility. Water-based exercises will often work best.
Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve fibromyalgia pain in some studies. This traditional Chinese system aims to restore balance of energies throughout the body by optimizing blood flow.
Fibromyalgia massage therapy is a well-known method of stress relief. By manipulating the muscles and soft tissues, massage can improve blood flow, sleep, posture and trigger happiness hormones.
You can relax your muscles and improve joint function by visiting a therapist for a Swedish massage. You can also use home massage tools such as back massagers, leg massagers, power recliners or massage chairs.
The best way to prevent fibromyalgia flares is likely a combination of mainstream medicine and alternative treatments. You need to keep an open mind and experiment with different options until you find what works for you best.
You need to listen to your body, discovering new strategies and diligently keep up with them once you find a combination that helps.
Here are some of some suggestions:
- Journaling is the best way to identify triggers and also note down techniques you tried along with how effective they were.
- Delegating tasks and saying no if need to. If you are trying to everything yourself it can easily lead to overexertion and fatigue, resulting in stronger flares.
- Stress management. Finding ways to reduce your stress levels can help preventing flare ups.
- Healthy diet. You must pay attention to your protein intake as this is needed for muscular development and maintenance.