- Problem Statement
- The risks of driving with fibromyalgia
- Proposed Solutions
- Tips and tools for riding a bike with fibromyalgia
Peoples with fibromyalgia cannot walk, drive or bike very far without pain. Getting a ride is mostly not an easy task for the Fibro community. Driving requires a person to sit in a fixed position and move in some specific ways that may worsen the pain.
When you are suffering from fibromyalgia, travel is also daunting and common triggers for fibro. It is good to know whats makes the driving and traveling such a common trigger for Fibro.
Experts figure out that less sleep, poor sleep quality, and frequent insomnia complaints are associated with fibromyalgia. Well, it explains the car crashes because sleep issues can be dangerous for drivers.
On an interview with some fibromyalgia Patient, they said that they sometimes forget where they were or where they were going. And that’s the terrible thing you can imagine it too. Few have also told that they can’t sit for too long as there back, knee or butt starts hurting. If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, you can relate it too. And driving with fibromyalgia become worst if you get aches in hand and fingers.
Driving with fibromyalgia
Stress is a trigger for many conditions and fibromyalgia is one of them. Stress is a common trigger of flare-ups, and driving is a stressor that can bring about fibromyalgia symptoms, especially if you get stuck in traffic that makes it difficult to get home or get to work on time. As well as being stressful, driving requires you to sit in a position and move in ways that may worsen your pain. Trains, buses, and taxis are options in many towns, but public transportation comes with its stresses and is not available everywhere.
Many people with fibromyalgia cannot walk or bike very far without pain and getting a ride is not always an easy task. As a result of all this, you may not able to avoid driving, especially if you work. Fortunately there a few things you can do to better cope with stressful driving situations. One of the biggest causes of driving concerns is cognitive dysfunction, aka brain fog or fibro fog. Besides, some people worry about panic attacks while some have problems with balance and dizziness.
Cognitive dysfunction and driving
It’s fairly common to hear someone with these illnesses talking about somewhere they have been a hundred times, only to suddenly forget where they are, where they are going and why. Or, at times, we may forget a familiar route, get lost, and cannot orient ourselves. Cognitive dysfunction is an umbrella term for several symptoms that negatively impact the way our brain works. The specific symptoms that can lessen our ability to drive include:
- directional disorientation
- trouble concentrating
- multi tasking difficulties
- short-term memory problems
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It’s also common to hear about suddenly blanking on smaller things as well, such as how to properly change lanes, how to navigate a difficult area, or even how to run on the windshield wipers. These events may be common if you are distracted, thanks to the problems we can have multitasking. Passengers, the phone, or a favorite song on the radio may pull your focus away from driving, and leave you struggling to get your bearings.
The risks of driving with fibromyalgia
Increased pain– sitting in the same position for prolonged periods can cause pain and discomfort. It doesn’t allow for proper blood circulation, and sitting in one spot can pinch off nerves in the legs, causing more pain.
Overstimulation– Any type of overstimulation that comes about from speeding cars, the noise, heavy traffic, and other visual, and auditory sensory input can be added stress for the fibromyalgia patient.
Fibro fog– Fibro fog, or cognitive troubles associated with fibromyalgia, can make it difficult for you to pay attention to the road. This can make being behind the wheel dangerous not only for you but for other drivers too.
Few Factors that play a role in making driving and traveling problematic:
Noise Sensitivity: Fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to noise and have a big impact on a lot of patients. We experience high sensitivity to noise, light, touch, smell, and temperature. All these factors play a role in increasing our pain, nausea, dizziness, trembling, looming panic attack and cause headaches and make us feel exhausted.
Distraction: In driving Distraction is a lethal weapon that can take your life and result in a serious type of accident. Being Fibromyalgia patient I am not good at focusing, so the smallest noise will divert my attention and I lose my focus, that’s maybe because I am also suffering from anxiety and sudden noise like horns make me flinch. It became frustrating in driving as you’re trying to take control of your condition instead of focusing on the road.
Brain Fog or Fibro Fog: Brain fog, or cognitive troubles linked with fibromyalgia, can make it difficult for Fibro effected driver to pay attention to the road. A person goes into some abstract state. They lost their focus and goes into some other world. This can make the situation worse and dangerous not only for yourself but other drivers also.
A person gets into short term memory lose state and forget the routes or destination. Many time the forget where they were going or what currently they are doing, they suddenly stop the car in the middle of the road or do some weird things.
Another thing they faced in this state that they were unable to grasp the new information, they were not in that state of mind in which they can handle multiple information at the same time. Like if there were multiple directions given on the road they were failed to get that. They become easily distracted.
Vision Problems: Fibromyalgia affects the human nervous system and NS can affect one’s vision too. In other words Eyes problem with fibro patients is linked to the nervous system. Person eyes may get blurred or experienced impaired vision. Mostly these problems trigger in the night while driving in dark. Affected Persons feel their eyes paining to see road signs, board or Cat-ions.
Leg Pain: Sitting for extended periods in driving, traveling or like in cleaning activities can exacerbate and trigger Fibromyalgia Leg Pain. The interesting fact about fibro leg pain is that it doesn’t matter that you sitting, lying down or standing at somewhere it still hurts your leg badly. So in driving or traveling with leg pain is often reported by the patient. Many times the pain is so severe that you can’t move the leg. In Driving, if you were not able to move your legs around the accelerator or gear or brakes, then you better know what will be the conscious es.
Dizziness and balance problems: Dizziness and loss of balance are common problems in us, especially those who have chronic fatigue syndrome. Often, it tied to changing positions- such as from sitting or lying down to standing, that’s a seldom problem while driving. Other people, though, have more regular dizzy spells. As with cognitive dysfunction and panic attacks, a dizzy spell while driving can be scary and hamper your abilities. If you tend to faint, it becomes more important to consider whether driving is a good idea for you.
Get a good night’s sleep: It is imperative to sleep well the night before you are driving so you are not exhausted the next day. This will help prevent grogginess, which can cause a safety issue for you and others on the road. If you find that you are extremely fatigued, see if you can get another person to drive for you. Check with your doctor about getting medication to help you sleep or try the supplement melatonin for a better night’s rest.
Panic attacks: For those who are prone to panic attacks, a bad brain-fog episode while driving can certainly be enough to trigger one. However other factors can lead to anxiety as well, including running late, hitting heavy traffic, or the baby crying in the backseat. When you are shaking, dizzy, feel out of control and can catch your breath, you are hardly in a state to drive safely. People who have had panic attacks while driving can become afraid that it will happen again, leading to a fear response that makes the situation more likely.
Take breaks :If you are driving for an extended period, take regular breaks to get out and stretch and to rest your eyes and brain for a little while.
Consider alternatives: If you are finding that driving causes you too much pain, or you become too disoriented while behind the wheel, look for alternative transport options. You may want to organize the carpool to work, work out how often you can afford to taxi, or if you don’t have too far to go, consider a mobility scooter. If you are not feeling up to driving, don’t .your safety and that of everyone else on the road is far more important than arriving at your destination.
For Safe driving with Fibromyalgia, you should consider these tips and make some adjustments in your driving. Get a Good Night’s Sleep for better driving and avoiding sleepiness in driving.
- Take rest and drive in intervals. If you were on a long drive, take regular breaks to get out, do stretching and relax your body, eyes, and brain for a while.
- Before Drive, make Sure You’re Comfortable with your seat.
- Adjust your sitting posture correct (sit straight as you sit in front of the desk).
- Get some cushions or back support for adjustment.
- I found meditation to be its solution as we learned to keep focus and block out the external noises.
- Wear sunglasses while driving.
- Earplugs and listening to music while driving helps in fights with noise.
- Consistent Deep breathing during driving helps you to get through sensory overload caused by light and noise.
- While straightening the leg, Pull your feet up toward your chest
- Walk on your heels until the cramp eases off.
- Keep your eyes clean with water, don’t let them dry.
- Use drops for dry eyes.
In last, Don’t Drive, if you’re not feeling up to driving. Public and your safety is more important than arriving at your destination.
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Tips and tools for riding a bike with fibromyalgia
Biking is one of the many low-impact exercises that are better for those of us with fibromyalgia. It is something that I’ve enjoyed throughout my life but has also become my main form of exercise, as an adult living with fibromyalgia. Of course, I have added many more aids to make biking more comfortable than when I was a kid. One of the first changes I made was switching to Ergon GC2 Bike Grips.
These are much more comfortable for my wrists because of the way the grips distribute pressure. The bar ends on the grips allow me to change my hand positions up while riding, which is also nice. I also always use gloves to ride, even on hot days. The ones I found to provide the most comfort for me are Women’s BG Gel long Finger Gloves by Specialized. They fit well and have lots of gel foam padding that relieves pressure on the palm and ulnar nerve. In the few years since I’ve bought them, I haven’t seen a women’s biking glove that I’d rather have.
When I’m biking, I am sure to bring plenty of water, a snack, medicine, eye drops, sunglasses, sunscreen, Kleenex, my phone, some money, my OD and my health insurance card. These are the basic items I need to feel good during the ride and in the case that something should happen to me.
It is quite a lot to carry through and that is where my Camelbak Women’s L.U.X.E. Hydration Pack comes in. It can hold all that and much more and holds enough water I can be sure I won’t run out. Other tools that make it easier, that I’ve mentioned before, are my Canari padded biking shorts and my Incredibell Jellibell. Another thing to check is that you have your bike fitted properly to your body dimensions. Using a fit calculator assures that and many bike stores will check your measurements for you. What I thought was the right setup for me was nowhere close to what it was. The Arthritis website has an article about bike saddles that offers great suggestions of specific things to adjust if a certain body part hurts while you ride.
The tips are for more than just the saddle. At my age I know I should be in a lot better shape than I am, and I’ve tried very hard to get in better shape. Over time, though from when I was 12 years old up until now I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of pain I feel when exercising and even during daily life in general. Fibromyalgia is an excruciatingly painful condition, you need to sleep enough and keep yourself off stress completely, along with your medication. Cycling could be daunting. You may walk slowly, stretch or do water aerobics.
These are safe exercises. If you are too fond of cycling, you may consult your doctor once before taking to the sport. Exercise is important though for your condition and provides good relief. Keep off tomatoes, Aspartame, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), and caffeine. Begin by biking a short distance, remember the length is not important here, peace and enjoyment come first. Go to the end of your road for a few days and bike right back.
When you feel light-hearted and energized after several spins, take a right and go just a few streets down and turn back. Keep doing this, adding to your route, as you feel stronger and abler. Don’t forget a basket as you begin long travel for water and a snack. You’ll want to stop off and enjoy a treat when viewing those beautiful scenes of nature. Most readers balk biking saying it takes too much energy. I retort asking what types of bike they have and how long do they ride?? The idea is not to get on and pound those pedals to lose unwanted pounds that are piling up due to inactivity. The idea is to get on and enjoy the ride; the rest will fall into place.
Some mentioned disdain of their single speed cruisers saying it becomes too difficult maneuvering uphill or unleveled roads. My reply is to sell your original and put the money towards a 3-speed cruiser instead. There is a remarkable improvement in overall satisfaction if you can switch gears. Biking offers a stable seat, and with a few quick spins of your legs can be home in no time.
Most importantly if you purchase a cruiser with gears, you can adjust those gears, depending on the terrain, so that your inner core muscles won’t become too taxed during your ride. Nothing breeds failure more than having to exert your body too much on a ride that I supposed to promote peace.
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