Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by in Featured, Savvy Smarts

Savvy Smarts: Care Management Tips for Fibromyalgia

Savvy Smarts: Care Management Tips for Fibromyalgia

By: Linda Winkler Garvin, R.N., M.S.N. ~

Millions of individuals across the United States have their lives impacted by Fibromyalgia.  Chronic pain, sleep deprivation, headaches and fatigue are not uncommon symptoms with this medical condition.  Here are some recommendations to consider incorporating into your life that may have a positive affect:

Sleep: A good night’s sleep is an important component in maintaining health. Decrease the noise level in your bedroom one to two hours prior to bedtime. Whether you are watching television or listening to music, start to lower the volume slightly at least one hour before bedtime. Also, begin to dim the lights around an hour before retiring.  In addition, it is helpful to know that ingesting protein prior to going to bed requires the body to work hard to metabolize this type of food, interfering with the body’s ability to relax and induce sleep.  It is also a wise idea to check the medications you are taking with your pharmacist to see if any of these prescription or non-prescription medications could be affecting your sleep.

Nutrition: The type of foods and beverages you consume both have an enormous impact on your health.  To reduce inflammation in the body follow these tips:

  • Avoid processed foods with large amounts of sugar & starch.
  • Snack on fresh fruits & vegetables choosing from the entire color spectrum.
  • Avoid fried foods & cook by broiling, grilling, roasting or steaming.

Foods that may trigger inflammation include, but are not limited to sausages, sugar, cream sauces, hydrogenated margarines, high fructose corn syrup, Trans fats found in some baked goods, crackers…

Medication: To prevent medication accidents, develop a medication usage sheet. List all the medications prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and any vitamin and herbal supplements you take.  Below is one example of how you can list your medications:

• Name of the medication, color and shape.
• Dosage and frequency
• Reason for taking the medication
• The date you started taking the medication
• The prescribing physician’s name and contact information
• Any special instructions and/or side effects about the medication

Exercise: Gentle exercises can allow individuals with chronic pain to have more control over their health condition and life and possibly decrease pain, improve sleep and increase overall wellness.  Consult with your health care practitioner before you start any new exercise program. Even the gentlest exercise class could pose a risk for people with certain health conditions.  Choose an exercise that you enjoy that promotes a non-competitive, self-paced exercise program integrating mental and physical well being.

Toxic Exposure: It is alarming to learn how much uncertainty there is about the amount of chemicals that are absorbed through the skin and into our bodies from commonly used cosmetics and personal care products.  By educating ourselves we can learn to avoid those products that are considered hazardous to our bodies, reduce our exposure to the high number of questionably safe products and choose healthier alternatives. To learn more about this subject, go to the web sites listed at the end of this article.  Remember that several toxic chemicals can still be present in ingredients that claim to be Organic, Natural or Green.

Stress reduction: Controlled breathing, progressive relaxation, meditation or guided imagery can be helpful in quieting the brain and relaxing the body.  For more information on guided imagery see The Healing Power of Guided Imagery, pg 6 & 7.

To Feel Better, Change What You Eat How Nutrition Can Decrease Chronic Inflammation and Help Manage Pain, pages 10-12, December 2009.

Gentle Exercises For Chronic Pain,, volume 9, issue 3 Summer 2009.

The Savvy Chronic Pain Patient, savvy chronic pain patient, June 2009.

Linda Winkler Garvin, R.N., M.S.N., of Alameda, California, is a Health Advocate in the Bay Area & Director of Health Management Associates.  She assists individuals & families in making informed choices by providing explanations of your health options, advocating on your behalf with hospital & medical staff, organizes your medical information & assists in reviewing your health bills & insurance payments.  She is the author of several articles on Pain Management, Healthy Lifestyles, Nutrition & Travel. Learn more at or e-mail at