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What is the biggest cause of a Fibromyalgia flare-up? Well, apparently it’s The Weather – which I am sure most of us knew that anyway. The UK is experiencing the second heatwave of this summer and I know I am suffering at the moment. How about you?

Fibromyalgia flare-ups are a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms.  A flare-up can be different from person to person, but for many, it means severe pain, with little to no let-up. A flare-up likely includes debilitating fatigue, even to the point of feeling weak and unable to stand or walk for much length of time. Luckily, worsening symptoms usually have a distinct cause, and with the right approach, they can be treated directly and effectively.

Get to the bottom of intensifying fibro fatigue and discomfort before you try to treat it. Some flare-ups can last a few days to a few weeks and there are a number of causes for them.

Temperature makes a difference in how we feel with Fibro but it can also affect other musculoskeletal disorders. Colder weather seems to make symptoms worse whereas a climate where the temperature remains warmer seems to be less painful for Fibro sufferers.

Arthritis Foundation writes that “People with fibromyalgia do not all experience flares the same way,” Dr Clauw says. “A good way to explain it is that every person with fibromyalgia has their Achilles heel – their ‘thing’ that really gives them trouble. When their fibromyalgia worsens, that particular thing really gets bad.”

There are obviously many other triggers that can create a flare-up which include – physical or psychological stress, hormonal changes, travelling, changes in treatment, diet or poor sleep.

There are five “major weather factors” that can affect our bodies. They are temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation and wind. We may not be able to control what the weather does, but we can take some steps to try and head off a #fibro flare before it occurs when it is time for a seasonal change.

Researchers have been unable to determine why the changes in weather affect sufferers, however, there are some possible explanations. Firstly, changes in temperature can affect sleep patterns. Getting plenty of sleep is really important if you have fibromyalgia, and even small shifts in your sleep pattern can aggravate the condition. Secondly, as the seasons change, the amount of light you are exposed to can throw off your circadian rhythm (body clock), making you feel low and more tired than usual. Lastly, there may be a connection between low temperatures and pro-inflammatory cytokines, which appear to be connected to pain intensity.

Make a note in your diary of a particular treatment that helped or medication or piece of equipment like a tens machine that helped. Knowing that there is something you can do, use or otherwise for your flare-up, will get you through the worst days and back to controlling it as you normally do.

Do not push yourself. Go slow. Be gentle with yourself. If you can’t do the laundry for a few days, that’s okay. Also, if you can’t get the house cleaned this week, that’s okay.

If you have to cancel plans, that’s okay, do not feel guilty about it. Treat yourself the same way you would a friend that was going through a hard time.

Source: Arthritis Foundation

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On Friday I went to the Nuffield Brighton Hospital to have Radiofrequency Ablation procedure. I was having this treatment for my bilateral sacroiliac joint pain which I have been suffering from lately.

I went into this hospital last December under the care of a very caring and compassionate consultant Mr Rafid Al-Mahfoudh. During that visit, I had some steroid injections into my sacroiliac joints for pain relief and for diagnostic reasons to see if it was these joints that were giving me all my pain.

It was a total success and I had the best pain-free Christmas I have had for years and years. Unfortunately, the pain came back with a vengeance and so I started a Physiotherapy Program to build my core in the hope it would help with the pain. Whatever we did just seemed to aggravate the pain so we decided the best route was to go back to see my consultant discuss the Radiofrequency Ablation procedure we had talked about before.

The Nuffield Hospital in, Brighton is in a beautiful spot with some stunning views. I gave my last stay in this hospital five stars and I would easily give my second stay the same appraisal.

My room had an extensive view which also included the view of the Kestrel nest which has its own channel on TV for patients to watch. The staff were telling me that patients have found watching the birds a real pleasure while they recover.

The whole team who were looking after me were delightful and could not make me feel more comfortable even checking I was completely happy with my position on the bed in the theatre before sending me to sleep. I have had two previous neck fusions so a simple thing of my neck being in an inappropriate position could flare up neck pain.

I soon came around in recovery without any complications and delightful staff looking after me. I was given IV Paracetamol for pain and then sent back to my room.

My light lunch was with me very quickly as they wanted me to eat something so they could give me some more pain medication.

I had a rough couple of hours but once we got the pain in control I was allowed home complete with discharge papers and what to do and not do and what to take and not take and also what to watch out for should I have any problems.

Different people react differently to a Radiofrequency Ablation procedure for low back pain. Many get reduced pain for longer periods of time, typically for more than six months – 2 years. One lady wrote on my FaceBook page that she had 5 years of pain relief.

Anything longer than six weeks for me will be a bonus as I enjoyed my pain-free time over Christmas and with two grandchildren under three and another one due in October I need to be much fitter.

Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure. It disables and prevents specific nerve branches from transmitting pain signals by heating part of the pain-transmitting nerves with a Radiofrequency needle to create a heat lesion.

The nerve usually regenerates, and the pain may return but you can have the procedure done again. It will depend on the length of time you were pain-free.

I was told the area treated might feel a bit sensitive or sore and that pain may return but this should settle after a few days – two weeks when the pain-free time should hopefully begin.

Spine and Brain, Nuffield Hospital

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The Bowen Technique has now joined the group of complementary therapies to be recognised by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) which provides an independent national standard of excellence.

CNHC is the only voluntary regulatory body for complementary healthcare to have official backing from the government. Its key function is to enhance public protection by setting standards for registration with CNHC.

The BOWEN technique was developed by Thomas Ambrose Bowen an osteopath from Australia in the 1960s and 1970s.

It has been called miraculous and is a soft tissue remedial therapy that involves the therapist using fingers and thumbs to move over muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia in various body parts.

The Bowen technique’s main feature is that the therapist leaves the patient to rest for a short while, allowing the body to decide what action needs to be taken in response to the moves given (sounds sooooo relaxing).

In Bowen Therapy, as well as the muscles, you work on the fascia. Fascia is an important, highly mobile, connective tissue, which runs throughout your body. It is via the fascia that we often address levels of tension and discomfort.

We purposefully move the fascia in a particular way to stimulate or relax muscle fibres in order to achieve:

  • Improved posture and flexibility
  • Pain relief
  • Improved mobility

You will also feel less stressed following a treatment, having taken time out of busy schedules to address your issues.

It’s a gentle non-invasive relaxing therapy to help free the body to its natural balance and healing. The Bowen Technique is a recognised hands-on complementary therapy, which many turn to for significant relief from troubling aches and pains and (often) to address long-standing problems.

The therapist uses only the thumbs and fingers to make gentle rolling movements over precise junctions of muscles, nerve pathways and blood and lymph circulation with periods of rest in between to allow the body to assimilate and respond to the information.

These moves send signals via the brain to the body’s soft tissues to realign and relax so that they can return to their natural, healthy state before tension or injury occurred. Pain is then released as the process of healing begins.

Increasing awareness and understanding of the role of fascia within the body have underpinned our appreciation that the body should be looked at holistically (as a whole). 

The Bowen Therapy Professional Association is an independent organisation of Bowen Therapists run by Bowen Therapists. The website is full of information on the Bowen Technique and has a list of therapists.

You can also find a great video on youtube on how the Bowen Technique can help with the pain of Fibromyalgia.

There is also a great book on the subject Bowtech – The Original Bowen Technique: Healing the body gently, Releasing pain and tension Paperback – by Manfred Zanzinger (Author), Sabine Knoll (Author)

Source: Bowen Therapy Bowen Technique Bowen Association CNHC