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Post Covid-19 syndrome can aggravate fibromyalgia. Here’s how to manage the condition

Published on:25 September 2021, 16:00pm IST
Covid-19, as we all know, shows side-effects even after you’ve had the infection. It can trigger painful fibromyalgia, a rheumatic condition characterised by joint stiffness and pain, fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, and muscle aches. Read on to know more.
Aayushi Gupta
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Your tongue posture determines how happy and healthy you are. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Those who have battled Covid-19 are aware of the various complications that can arise in the post-Covid stage. From fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, sleep troubles to low energy levels, there are so many symptoms that people have been experiencing, even after having the viral infection. 

But if you’re experiencing symptoms like joint pain, memory problems, severe fatigue, or sleep problems, you could be suffering from fibromyalgia. 

Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome characterised by chronic pain, fatigue, and tenderness. It causes aches and pain throughout the body. In fact, fibromyalgia’s symptoms are often confused with arthritis or joint inflammation. However, unlike arthritis, it hasn’t been found to cause joint or muscle inflammation and damage.

Dr. Bipin Jibhkate, a consultant of critical care medicine, and ICU director at Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, says fibromyalgia is a painful condition, and the pain is usually in the soft tissue, nerves, and muscles of your body. Pain is the most common symptom. 

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Dr Jibhkate reveals that sleep troubles, muscle and joint pain, as well as fatigue are the major symptoms of this condition. Apart from these, this condition is often accompanied by:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble in concentration (cognitive difficulties)
  • Irritable bowel movement
  • Widespread pain
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. 
fibromyalgia
From causing muscle and joint pain to depression and anxiety, fibromyalgia can cause multiple health issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unclear; there could be different causes for different people. It has been shown to be genetic. But Dr Jibhkate says this condition can frequently become evident, if you’re dealing with:

  • Stressful events
  • Chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus

These are some risk factors that can trigger the development of fibromyalgia. 

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Dr Jibhkate says it’s not easy to diagnose the disease, because there are no specific tests. But a doctor will suspect fibromyalgia based on your symptoms. And because widespread body pain is the key feature of fibromyalgia, healthcare providers will ask you to describe your pain, so that the healthcare provider can differentiate between fibromyalgia and other diseases with similar symptoms.

Also, read: Can Covid-19 cause a spike in dementia cases?

Is fibromyalgia a treatable disease?

Although fibromyalgia can affect the quality of life, it is still a treatable disease. Dr Jibhkate says that fibromyalgia is not a life-threatening disease, but the recovery of the patient can be delayed. Therefore, the patient should not miss the treatment in the middle, or else it may worsen your symptoms.

fibromyalgia
Extreme fatigue can also be a sign of fibromyalgia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It isn’t just medicine that can treat the disease, there is also a non-drug method to treat fibromyalgia, adds the expert.

Here’s how to manage fibromyalgia with lifestyle changes:

According to Dr Jibhkate, there are four major triggers or risk factors of fibromyalgia that need to be kept under control, if you want to manage the condition. These are:

  • Poor diet
  • High-stress levels
  • Mood
  • Poor quality sleep

By keeping in mind these triggers, Dr Jibhkate shares these tips to manage fibromyalgia:

1. Modify your diet: Avoid junk and fried foods. Instead consume high-energy foods that are low in sugar such as green vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. These foods can help your energy levels stay high throughout the day. 

Also, read: Suffering from joint pain? Here are 5 ways to get relief from inflammation of joints

2. Stay active: Research shows that the most effective treatment for fibromyalgia is physical exercise. Carrying out gentle aerobic exercise helps with pain and fatigue symptoms. 

fibromyalgia
Eat right and stay active. Follow this mantra and you are good to go. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Prioritise sleep: Unrelenting pain can disrupt sleep, which can lead to increased aches and fatigue, which then creates a vicious cycle. Apart from exercise, getting enough sleep is really important, when it comes to fibromyalgia. You can meditate, in order to improve your sleep pattern. 

4. Limiting alcohol: Excess alcohol and caffeine intake can disturb your sleep cycle, and sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, which can worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia. So, limit your alcohol intake. 

5. Stress reduction: When you constantly battle pain, it can place a lot of stress on your system. Finding easy ways to relieve stress can make a huge difference to your fatigue levels. You can do activities like tai chi, meditation, morning walks, breathing exercise, and gently stretch your body to reduce stress levels.

So, follow these tips and manage your fibromyalgia symptoms. 

Aayushi Gupta Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.