Responding to your survey comments, in the upcoming Spring 2014 issue of the Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE magazine, Dr. Mark Pellegrino, a physiatrist from Canton, Ohio, offers readers tips on how to live better with fibromyalgia. Dr. Pellegrino has personally treated 25,000 FM patients and lived with fibromyalgia himself since he was a child. Here are a few of his tips for living better with fibromyalgia, including a portion of his FIBRONOMICS Program:
“Years ago I came up with four rules to maintain favorable posture and body mechanics with fibromyalgia. Fibronomics is defined as the art of properly manipulating our fibromyalgia body in the environment to enable completion of an activity with minimal pain. Fibronomics can be applied to everything we do in life, no matter how simple it is. There are four easy rules of fibronomics, and once they are learned and applied, our bodies will automatically follow them.
Rule #1: Arms stay home.
Anytime the arms are away from the body, the trapezial, scapular, shoulder and upper back muscles all go into sustained contractions which can result in increased pain, even after only a few seconds of the offending activity.
The favorite position for our arms is at the sides and below the shoulders with the elbows touching our sides and bent at a 90 degree angle. We should try to maintain this position to the point where we move our whole body, not just our arms to confront each specific task. Arms stay home (with the rest of our body), and do not reach away.
Rule #2: Unload the back.
Multiple muscles must be balanced to maintain proper alignment of the low back and pelvic areas. If anything causes a shift in this alignment, the mechanical imbalance and misalignment can result in pain. Any activity that increases the load on the back such as bending forward, prolonged standing, bending at the waist to pick up an object or arching the back should be avoided to help lessen the chance of unwanted pain.
Rule #3: Support always welcome.
Whenever possible, take advantage of existing structures in our environment to relieve some of the force on our body. Examples of common support structures: • Arms: Armrest, rest arms on head, lap or body, cross arms, hold one arm with other arm, pockets, muffs and slings. • Back: Chair, wall, foot stool, brace, belt. • Body: Stair rails, pillows, cushions, furniture.
Rule #4: Be naturally shifty.
This rule emphasizes maintaining natural or neutral body and joint positions, but at the same time, periodically moving and shifting the muscles. Keeping our muscles moving is one way to avoid the painful tightening and spasms that can occur when we are in one position for too long. We must learn to automatically alternate between various positions such as sitting, standing and walking to both relax and stretch the muscles regularly.”