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What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is characterised by widespread pain throughout the body but there are other symptoms too, including fatigue, muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping and trouble concentrating or with memory (this is sometimes called 'fibro-fog'). 

Some people can have all of these symptoms, some just one or two and symptoms can change on a daily basis.

What causes fibromyalgia?
The basic answer is that no-one knows what causes it. In some cases fibromyalgia was triggered by a stressful life event such as an accident, an injury, giving birth, a bereavement or break up of a relationship. 

It affects more women than men and is thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain which changes the way our central nervous system deals with pain messages.

Exercise has been shown to be useful for symptom reduction in fibromyalgia, however, it can be tricky to feel motivated to do exercise while in pain. You also might fear making the symptoms worse or bringing on a flare up. 

Exercise, in varying forms, is useful and you're your GP may be able to offer further advice on this. However, it's important to avoid 'boom or bust cycles'. This is where we do too much on the days when we feel okay, which then leads to a longer recovery time. 

Emotional impact
Living with fibromyalgia can be like living on a rollercoaster blindfolded- you never know what challenges you are going to have to face that day. Living with this uncertainty as well as the physical symptoms that are part of fibromyalgia can affect our emotional wellbeing and cause low mood and anxiety.

You may notice that you have stopped enjoying things as much and have withdrawn from people, or you may be worrying a lot more than usual. Sometimes having a physical illness such as fibromyalgia can mean changes in relationships or changes in our roles, again this can have an impact on our mood and anxiety levels. 

Experiencing low mood, anxiety or stress can cause the symptoms of fibromyalgia to get worse.

How can we help you?
Our Think Wellbeing service can help you to understand the link between your physical health and your emotional wellbeing. 

We can also provide tools and techniques that you can use to manage your thoughts and feelings as well as help to avoid any boom or bust cycles.

Think Wellbeing can be accessed via self-referral in HaltonKnowsley and St Helens  – you don't have to be referred by a GP. If you live outside these areas, visit your GP for help and advice.

If you feel you are in mental health crisis, visit our help in a crisis page for advice and support.

Speaking to others with fibromyalgia
You may find it helpful to join a support group and speak to others who also have fibromyalgia.

You can visit the Fibromyalgia website for a list of support groups in the North West.

You may want to join the Health Unlocked Fibromyalgia Action UK online community

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