Fibromyalgia affects roughly 2% of the adult population in the United States, or 4 million people. While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not yet clear, we do know that it can be a very painful, debilitating condition. Although this condition causes many distressing symptoms, there are effective treatments for fibromyalgia.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain throughout the body. Sufferers may experience symptoms including fatigue, stiffness, depression, sleep problems, tingling in the hands or feet, migraines or headaches, chronic pain, anxiety, and concentration and memory issues.
It’s possible the condition may be triggered by injury, psychological trauma or stress, genetics and viral infections. Patients that have lupus and forms of arthritis are at an increased risk for fibromyalgia. Women are more likely to be affected as well.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, there are strategies and medicines that can combat the pain and symptoms that come with the condition.
Medicine for Fibromyalgia Treatment
For most patients, medication alone is not enough. In order to facilitate the best outcome, it’s important to take a holistic approach. However, the following medicines may provide pain relief in people with fibromyalgia.
- Antidepressants: These can help with fibromyalgia symptoms and mood disorders. Patients with fibromyalgia do not have to experience depression to benefit from antidepressants. The levels of neurotransmitters are raised through the use of these drugs which can help with pain. The two most commonly used antidepressants for fibromyalgia patients are cymbalta and savella. Common side effects include dry mouth, weight gain, drowsiness, nausea and loss of sexual desire.
- Anti-epileptics: Also known as anticonvulsants or anti-seizure medicine, research has shown that anti-epileptics can reduce pain attributed to fibromyalgia. Pregabalin (lyrica) and gabapentin are some of the most common anti-seizure medicines used to treat fibromyalgia. Anticonvulsants may also lead to change in weight, drowsiness and oedema.
- Painkillers: For fibromyalgia pain relief, over-the-counter medicines may aid patients. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin may decrease the pain of fibromyalgia. In some cases, opioids may be prescribed. However, these are addictive so it’s important to discuss the risks with one of our specialists and consider other treatment options before proceeding.
- Muscle Relaxers: These are most often prescribed to improve sleep and to relieve muscle spasms in fibromyalgia patients. They may also relieve pain and fatigue as well.
Natural Remedies & Alternative Therapies
Natural treatments and self-care strategies can provide fibromyalgia pain relief and improve your quality of life as a fibromyalgia sufferer. For many patients, a combination of alternative therapies and medication is successful for pain management.
Lifestyle changes are crucial for anyone diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Managing pain goes beyond medicine. A treatment approach that is multifaceted will likely trigger positive results. Here are a few alternative therapies known to aid fibromyalgia patients.
- Diet changes: Eating an anti-inflammatory diet may improve your condition. Make sure to maintain a balanced, healthy diet.
- Exercise: Get moving! Walking, swimming, hiking – you name it. Taking part in any aerobic activity can be a great help to fibromyalgia patients.
- Physical therapy: PT can help with strength and mobility. Stiffness may subside.
- Stress management: Stress can make your symptoms worse. Reduce stress by finding hobbies, meditating and finding time to relax each day.
- Acupuncture: Research shows that acupuncture can ease pain by targeting specific points all over the body.
- Massage: Getting regular massages can relax your muscles and improve your range of motion. If you struggle with stress, massage can be a great tool to relax.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Also known as CBT, the goal of this type of therapy is to change the way you see pain and how you approach it.
- Biofeedback: Using electrical sensors, involuntary bodily processes are monitored. After the information is fed back to the patient, they react and change their thoughts and behaviors accordingly. The purpose is to teach a patient how to use their mind to control their body’s responses.
- Chiropractic manipulation: By correcting any misalignments and manipulating stiff areas, patients may experience pain relief.
- Occupational therapy: If you’ve lost mobility or struggle to complete daily tasks, occupational therapy can be a great help. Occupational therapists can teach you how to manage your daily life again.
- Sleep hygiene: It can be difficult to sleep well when you have fibromyalgia. Maintain a routine to help yourself sleep well. Avoid screens before bedtime and wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day.
- Lifestyle changes: Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages excessively. If you currently smoke, now is the time to quit for good as well.
- Yoga & tai-chi: These practices are slow and intentional. Both use deep breathing and can help you connect with your body in a mindful way.
- Meditation: Meditating can be a great stress reliever which can result in reduced pain. It can even reduce symptoms of anxiety.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms people experience with fibromyalgia. People find that even if they get a full night of sleep, they will often wake up exhausted. Completing activities may feel impossible too. The good news is, there are a few treatment options that can fight fibro fatigue head on.
- Exercise is a great way to fight fatigue. When we exercise, our brains create endorphins which can help us with our energy levels and our mood.
- Vitamin D can increase your energy levels as well. Vitamin D deficiencies are common in fibro sufferers.
- Maintain a sleep routine. Create a calm environment where you can unwind before bed as well.
How Our Pain Specialists Can Help
Patients respond differently to treatments. Finding what works best for you can be a journey, but it’s one worth taking. Our team will walk with you, step by step, to create the best treatment plan for you and listen to any concerns you have along the way.
Your health care is important to us. Our goal is to positively impact your quality of life and support you any way we can while decreasing your pain. If you’re ready to get your pain under control, give us a call at 480-986-7246.