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Living with fibromyalgia

Do your muscles hurt even when you’re not moving? Are you exhausted all the time? If you’ve been dealing with these vague symptoms for more than a few months, ask your doctor if you could have fibromyalgia.

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia, but it’s most common in middle-aged women. Symptoms include muscle pain, tiredness and tender points on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms or legs that hurt when touched. You may also have trouble sleeping, stiffness, headaches and problems with thinking and memory.

There’s no cure for fibromyalgia, but your doctor can recommend medicine and lifestyle changes to ease discomfort.

5 feel-better strategies

Keep moving. Regular movement can lessen pain, stiffness and the possibility of injury, while improving circulation and reducing stress.

Make sleep a priority. Try to get seven to eight hours of healthy, restorative sleep a night and keep a regular schedule by going to bed and waking at the same time each day. Stay away from coffee, chocolate and caffeinated beverages for at least two to three hours before bedtime.

Reduce stress. Stress hurts—physically and emotionally. It can increase tension in the muscles, increase joint pain and disrupt sleep. Make an effort to minimize stress so that your body can focus on feeling better. Deep breathing, yoga and light massage can help.

Keep an even pace. Doing too much on days when you have more energy may catch up with you. You may feel tired the next day and symptoms could worsen. Try to keep a balance from day to day.

Get support. Living with a chronic illness can be challenging. Seek out a fibromyalgia support group for information and social interaction.