Diseases > Fibromyalgia | FM > Treatment | Fibromyalgia | FM
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Treatment of Fibromyalgia
If you have just been diagnosed with FM, the first thing is, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Although you might have been diagnosed with FM, you are not alone. Luckily, there are effective treatments available. Even if they don’t cure FM, they can make living with the condition much more comfortable.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
There is no simple cure for FM. Most treatments are aimed at specific symptoms of FM, such as pain and fatigue. One of the most powerful tools against FM is education: the more you know about it, the better off you will be.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be helpful for people with FM. This type of “talk therapy” involves learning how to deal with the pain and fatigue of FM. It teaches you practical tips on how to ease pain symptoms and fatigue. It can also help you take control of the extent to which symptoms of FM bother you and interfere with your everyday activities.
One of the most important things to take care of when diagnosed with FM is sleep habits. Getting plenty of sleep and practicing proper sleep hygiene can significantly improve pain and fatigue levels. See the link for Sleep Hygiene on this RheumInfo website for more information on getting the best sleep possible.
Who should I see if I think I have Fibromyalgia?
If you think you may have FM you should talk to your primary care physician. Generally they can provide treatment and relief from many symptoms of FM including pain. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist called a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a specialist doctor who is an expert in treating arthritis and other types of inflammatory conditions. They are in the best position to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.
When should I seek help?
Consult your primary care physician as soon as symptoms arise. Don’t wait. Although FM may not get worse over time, you may run the risk of setting poor and unproductive habits the longer you go undiagnosed.
Medications for Fibromyalgia
No medication will cure FM but the right medications can significantly decrease the amount of pain and other symptoms you may experience. Some are available without a prescription and others require a doctor’s prescription.
Simple analgesics (pain relievers) such as acetaminophen, Tylenol or other anti-inflammatory drugs may be sufficient for some people. It is wise to steer clear of narcotic medications such as Oxycontin because they are not helpful in the long run.
For temporary pain relief when it is really necessary, Tylenol 3 or codeine may be used. These are medications that must be taken in small quantities and very carefully as it is easy to become dependent on them.
One of the most commonly used and oldest drugs that has been shown to help with FM is amitriptyline. Taking this medication in low doses right before bedtime can improve sleep and reduce chronic pain. The downside of this drug is that is can leave you feeling groggy in the morning. It is important to take the smallest dose possible to reduce symptoms and minimize the side effects.
Drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, commonly referred to as an SNRIs, can be used to reduce pain. A well known example is duloxetine. Occasionally selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly referred to as SSRIs, can be effective. Examples include fluoxetine or duloxetine.
Both pregabalin and gabapentin are effective medications for pain symptoms. They work by blunting pain signals in the spinal cord. In some patients this can be one of the most effective treatments for FM.
Depending on your specific symptoms, muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine can be an effective way of reducing muscle stiffness and pain.
Before taking and type of medication for your FM symptoms, be sure to see your physician. They will be able to explain any possible side effects and help choose which medication(s) might be the best to control your specific symptoms
Exercises for Fibromyalgia
Exercising can be difficult with FM as it has the potential to cause flares and make pain worse. In the long run though, any and all exercise can be beneficial. Daily aerobic exercise is an important part of managing FM and is encouraged – just be sure to ease your way into it slowly. Daily walks or cycling is a great way to get started. Pool programs can be helpful. Classes such as tai chi, yoga or pilates can all be beneficial and are encouraged in moderation.
On a day-to-day basis there are also many small things that can be done to improve the symptoms of FM. Practicing good ergonomics while at work can alleviate symptoms significantly as well as simply wearing more comfortable footwear.
Natural or Home Remedies for Fibromyalgia
There are few known natural remedies or complementary therapies that have been proven to help FM in any significant way. However there are still many products on the market such as herbs, supplements, bracelets, magnet beds and vitamins if you do so wish to try them out. However, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure that nothing interacts with your medication if you choose to use natural remedies or complementary therapies.
Diet for Fibromyalgia
Questions about diet and arthritis are very common. We all want to know what we can do to help ourselves. Can we change our diet to improve our immune system and help our FM? Changing our diet gives us a sense of control over a disease which often seems to have a mind of its own.
Unfortunately, there is no diet that has been proven to significantly alter the course of FM or other types of arthritis. Following the basics of healthy eating can help improve health and well-being in everyone, including those with FM. Keeping a healthy weight can help reduce the load on your achy joints and muscles.
Alcohol and Fibromyalgia
Many of us like to share a glass of wine, a beer, or a spirit from time to time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of FM, some people may turn to alcohol to help cope with the pain and distress. Alcoholic beverages are not an effective treatment for FM. They can also interact with some medications.
Smoking and Fibromyalgia
Cigarette smoking, whether you have FM or not, has no positive effects on any aspect of your health. Smoking is also another risk factor for heart disease. If you are a smoker with FM, quitting could be one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health.