Fibromyalgia The Basics

Explaining spoon theory

I’m mid-flare and, as always, it’s floored me. I forget how awful these things are until they stab me in the back, steal my cognitive functions and leave me more exhausted than I’ve ever felt before.

I’m a week in to one of the worst flares of my life, which has got me thinking about the basics of pain management and using all the pills, potions, tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way. One of the tools in my fibro toolkit is the explanation of Spoon Theory and Burning Nights have summed it up perfectly with the information and infographic below.

Burning Nights is a UK charity increasing awareness of Complex Regional Pain Syndome (CRPS) who said; “The everyday pain of living with a chronic illness such as fibromyalgia is exacerbated by some people’s lack of understanding as to what it feels like. When the illness is not overly conspicuous, there seems to be a default mentality that the person is exaggerating the description of their pain, an unfounded accusation that only makes the person’s suffering even worse.

Lupus sufferer Christine Miserandino became known worldwide for devising the Spoon Theory, a clever yet evocative analogy which brilliantly contextualises the daily struggles of people with chronic illness. She used 12 spoons to represent activities that she can manage during a typical day, with something as seemingly routine as getting dressed taking one spoon while activities like driving, attending lectures or completing tasks at work require multiple spoons.

Christine once spoke of her requirement to plan her day as if she was “strategizing a war” and it is a burden faced by chronic illness sufferers everywhere. Everything from selecting what clothes to wear to deciding what food to eat requires thought and pre-planning so that the consequences aren’t harshly felt afterwards.”

When we’re first diagnosed with a chronic illness, the diagnosis is quickly followed with a word of warning that it’s unlikely the pain will ever just go away and therefore we need to learn how to live with it. “Pain management” and “coping strategies” become some of our most common phrases and, ultimately, we need to learn how to pace ourselves without pushing our limits unnecessarily.

The infographic below explains spoon theory to help you manage your pain and pace yourself. It’s also a handy tool to share with friends and family to help them understand your challenges.

Spoon Theory.jpg


16 comments on “Explaining spoon theory

  1. Ooo great infographic! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Nicely done! Explanation is spot on! May I repost?~Kim

  3. Pingback: Explaining spoon theory — A LIFE LESS PHYSICAL – Stone in the Road

  4. Fantastic infographic! It explains everything well and is visually educational and appealing. *Thumbs up*

  5. I’m sorry that you’re feeling so poorly, Sarah. I pray that you find relief soon! Fibro stinks!! Thank you for the infographic. I shared it on my FB page. If just one person reads it and learns something, then I’ll be happy! 🙂 🙂 Another tip that I would give to someone who experiences chronic illness would be to set up all of your bills on autopay and to use online banking (If you have a secure Internet connection). It saves time and lowers stress levels, for me anyways. I even deposit my checks using the banking app on my phone. It’s fabulous!! Thank you for another lovely article, Sarah!!

  6. Pingback: Fibromyalgia toolkit – A LIFE LESS PHYSICAL

  7. Thank you so much for this. I have been ill for a year and it has affected my joints in my one hand and leg. Doctors unsure of cause. Latest suggestion is CRPS. Having read this theory, it gave me some hope and helped me understand why some days it’s all too much. Thank you so much!

  8. Pingback: Explaining spoon theory | Walking With Trees – The Only Journey Is With In…

  9. You can’t seriously be comparing fibromyalgia to lupus can you?

    • I’m not comparing anything to anything. I don’t have lupus so couldn’t say what it’s like, but the spoon theory works (for some) as a way of managing your pain and energy levels throughout the day – regardless of the condition you’re using it to manage.

  10. I smell a troll @ Jr24. You handled that very diplomatically, Sarah. Good job! =)

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