Kittle: Tips on how to cope with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia

Keeping certain little things close at hand can help you manage your symptoms.

In spite of all the medications, supplements, stress-reducing techniques and lifestyle changes, some of your symptoms still impose themselves on your life.

During those times, little things can make a big difference. Keeping certain little things close at hand can help you manage your fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) symptoms and improve your quality of life.

The following is a list of simple things that can help you get through the day (or night) and don’t require a prescription.

Muscle creams

While muscle creams (like Tiger Balm and Aspercreme) don’t do much against FMS pain, they can provide relief from muscles aches that can contribute to your overall pain level and make it hard to get comfortable or fall asleep.

Rice bag

A rice bag is uncooked rice inside a little pillow, usually made of flannel or some fabric that feels nice against your skin. You heat it in the microwave for a couple minutes and it releases a soothing, slightly moist heat. It’s a great alternative to a heating pad because it gradually cools off and won’t start a fire, so you can use it to help you sleep.

Cooling products

A cooling “scarf”or ice packs help with cooling for muscle inflammation.


Dry, itchy skin aggravates FMS, and every time you scratch it can cause a lot of pain in the area. If the lotion has a soothing scent, it can do double duty by helping you relax.

Blankets, pillows and bedding

The more sedentary you are, the more important it is to have a comfortable place that’s ready for you at a moment’s notice.


Studies show that walking, stretching, and strength training all help control fibromyalgia pain and muscle tenderness. Exercise just three times a week improves life on many levels. Exercise can relieve fatigue and depression, as well as help people feel better about themselves, more in charge of their lives. Water exercise is the easiest workout for people with fibromyalgia pain.

If you can’t exercise because of obesity, water therapy is a good place to start. Warm water can be very comforting.

The exercise gets blood flow to muscles and tendons. And if you’re in the water, your joints are not being stressed during exercise. Also, water offers resistance, which helps muscles get stronger.

The natural buoyancy of water helps you move—so you can do exercises that would otherwise be painful.

Studies indicate that water aerobics improves quality of life for women with fibromyalgia pain in the long-term.

In one 12-week study, women who exercised in warm water for 60 minutes, three times a week reported improved physical and mental well-being.

They also had less fibromyalgia pain and more vitality. As for their state of mind, they reported feeling less depressed, and more sociable.

Kelowna has a suitable water exercise program clled Fibrofit for individuals with FMS and other inflammatory  diseases. Fibrofit is held at Hawthorn Park Retirement Community on KLO Road, across from Okanagan College, in a 90 degree salt water pool.

For more information call 250-861-6636 or 250-317-3508.

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