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Creating a Pain-Flare Plan That Future-You Will Be Grateful For

When chatting to a friend about her experience of living with fibromyalgia she described it as walking around the edges of a dark hole and staring down into the darkness. During a pain flare she feels like she is falling down that hole. Though a dark image this makes sense because a pain flare or flare up, is an increase in pain, in physical, practical, mental and emotional needs. The pain becomes overwhelming and all encompassing.

Having lived with chronic pain for many years she has a range of strategies that she uses during her pain flare ups. People who are newer to a life with chronic pain might not have been referred to a pain clinic and they probably haven’t made a plan of what to do when they next experience a pain flare up. I see you 😉.

This blog is a little wake up call to get on that. It should give you a structure to hang ideas on. It should help you think about protecting all of the areas of life that are forgotten when you just want to surrender to the darkness .


Get a pen and paper out and draw yourself a house. If we imagine that this house represents our our health, then the foundation is sleep, the roof is our life purpose and the four walls are made up of nutrition, hobbies, social support and movement. The termite in the corner represents stress that eats the walls and the tree out front is a connection with nature.

During a flare up sleep is difficult but essential. its made more difficult if you take common analgesics such as amitriptyline, gabapentin, or duloxetine which are known to disrupt sleep and may make you drowsy during the day which further interferes with your wake/sleep cycle .

I know one person who sleeps in the spare room during her flare ups so that she doesn't have to worry about waking her husband. I know another who gets up, runs a bath, gets a cup of herbal tea and tries again later. It may be that you are prescribed sleeping pills to get you through a flare up. These will provide short-term relief but are not the long term solution. What can you do to protect your sleep in a flare up?