Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and localized tenderness. Though the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but genetics may play a crucial role. In this article we will talk about the treatments and tips to ease pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia appear after psychological stress, an injury, an illness, and physical trauma. There are symptoms of musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and also some symptoms like poor concentration, depression and headaches. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to help ease and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia and improve the quality of your life. Let us take a look on the treatments.
Medications to Treat Fibromyalgia
Some medications can help ease the pain, fatigue of fibromyalgia and also help in improving sleep. Some of the medications include the following:
Over-the-counter or OTC pain relievers like Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or Naproxen sodium (Alve) may be beneficial. Your doctor may suggest a prescription pain reliever like Tramadol (Ultram). Narcotics are not advised, as they can lead to dependence and may even worsen the pain over time.
Antidepressants are also used in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Duloxetine(Cymbalta) and Milnacipran(Savella may help ease fatigue and pain associated with Fibromyalgia. You may be prescribed with Amitriptyline or cyclobenaprine to help promote sleep.
Medications designed for treating epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is sometimes beneficial in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia, while Pregabalin(Lyrica) was the first drug that was approved by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration for treating Fibromyalgia.
Muscle relaxant like Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) may provide some relief of muscle pain that is associated with fibromyalgia. This is especially taken at bedtime. They also help in promoting sleep.
Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Some people with pain of fibromyalgia, find good relief with alternative treatments. Some of the alternative treatments include the following.
There are some findings that show that Acupuncture may alter the brain chemistry and help in increasing the pain tolerance. So, this can be useful in easing pain of fibromyalgia.
Massage therapy is also an alternative therapy that can be beneficial in treating symptoms of fibromyalgia. This may stimulate circulation and release chronic patterns of muscular tension.
Chiropractic treatments may improve pain levels, ease lower back pain and increase the cervical and lumbar ranges of motions.
Using the electronics for measuring stress-related responses in the body, biofeedback aids some people control the stress response and relieves chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT:
The basis of Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is about helping people set realistic goals. Patients work on identifying dysfunctional thought patterns and developing techniques for managing negative thoughts. The techniques you learn via cognitive behavior therapy, can help in reducing or minimizing your pain associated with Fibromyalgia.
Studies have shown that meditation produces brain waves consistent with serenity and happiness, which may help in relieving anxiety, that may be experienced by some patients of Fibromyaglia.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong:
Physical therapy can help relieve pain and stiffness due to Fibromyalgia. By having regular visits to a licensed physical therapist can increase your confidence with exercise, help relax tense muscles and you may also learn more about your body and movement. Apart from this, physical therapy helps with “new” muscle memory and neuroendocrine changes in a positive way so as to help you with muscle stiffness and pain.
Your therapist will show you the proper way to stretch painful muscles so as to get optimal relief. Moreover, using hydrotherapy or moist heat or ice packs along with physical therapy may help in easing pain even more.
Soak In Warm Water:
Soak in a warm bath to relax tense muscles, reduce pain due to fibromyalgia and help you move more easily. You can also try a sauna or put a stool in the shower so that you can sit and let the water do its work. Apart from this, moist heat may increase endorphins, which block pain signals and help you get sound sleep.
Herbal Treatments and Dietary Supplements for Fibromylagia
There are limited studies on natural dietary supplements and fibromyalgia. However, some patients have found relief with OTC natural dietary supplements like 5-HTP, melatonin, alpha hydroxy, SAM-e, L-Carnitine, and probiotics.
It must be strictly noted that many of these have drug interaction, so in case you are on any prescription medications or on other supplements, then do avoid these dietary supplements.
Some herbal treatments are also known to be effective in treating symptoms of pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. Medical marijuana can be very much effective in easing the symptoms. Some studies found that individuals suffering from Fibromyalgia, who took medical cannabis, experienced an enhanced relaxation, a reduction in pain and stiffness, an increase in the sleep quality, feelings of well being and an improved mental health. However, more research is required to know about the benefits of medical marijuana for fibromyalgia.
There may be side effects of medical marijuana and they may include unfocused judgment and concentration.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Fibromyalgia:
Below are some of the lifestyle changes you need to follow so as to ease the pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Develop a proper plan to reduce or avoid overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time every day to relax. However, do not change your routine completely. Those who quit work or restrict all activity, tend to do worse than do those who remain active. You can try stress management techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises.
You need to exercise regularly. Though, at first, exercise may increase your pain, but, doing it gradually and on a regular basis, often reduces the pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. Appropriate exercises may include walking, biking, swimming and water aerobics. You can take the help of a physical therapist who can develop a home exercise program. Stretching, relaxation exercises and good posture, are also beneficial.
Get Enough of Sleep:
Fatigue is one of the main characteristics of Fibromyalgia, and thus getting enough sleep is very much essential. In addition to allotting enough time to sleep, also practice good sleep habits, like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day and limiting daytime napping.
Pace Your Work:
Keep your activity or work on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have to experience more bad days. So, do moderate activity each day. It means, do not overdo it good days and also do not self-limit or do little on the days when symptoms flare. Keep a balance.
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle:
It is essential for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods, limiting your caffeine intake and also doing something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.
Tips To Ease Pain and Other Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Tip No-1: Take Notes
There is one complication of fibromyalgia that is known as ‘Fibro fog”. Patients may suffer from thinking and memory problems like difficulty holding a conversation, concentration problem, difficulty finding the right words, difficulty remembering, feeling alert and so on. Apart from this, someone suffering from Fibro fog, may also find everyday tasks challenging. Things like, finding your keys, holding onto new information, paying attention to directions, or keeping plans can become a great challenge.
In case you are suffering from fibro fog, one of the best techniques for managing your condition is to take notes. Make a to-do list, or even a “to say” list, that help in working or communicating more clearly with your family and friends. Maintain different lists of your friends’ names, contact information or shopping lists, so that you have them at a moment’s notice. Apart from this, also keep a track on your medication, as you can easily skip a drug dose or can accidentally overdose if you are finding it difficult to remember things due to Fibro fog.
Tip No- 2: Write It Down
In order to take charge of Fibromyalgia, you should try keeping a daily journal of symptoms and your mood changes, along with the activities and events that accompany them. Keep a list of your medications and keep the track of that. Over time, you will develop a clearer picture of what is triggering your symptoms of Fibromyalgia, which can in turn make it easier for your doctor to treat your pain, fatigue and other symptoms of the condition.
Tip No-3: Remain Physically Active
It is important for you to remain active as exercise and activities have shown to improve certain symptoms of Fibromyalgia, such as stiffness, pain, physical function, cardiovascular fitness, etc. Maintain your exercise regularly at a low level of intensity. One more important benefit of exercise is that you get better sleep.
Tip No-4: Avoid Caffeine
You also need to avoid caffeine, as it intensifies stress. With caffeine, your CNS becomes stimulated and you become more nervous, anxious, and sleepless. So avoid caffeine, or the sources of caffeine, like coffee, tea, soda and chocolate.
Tip No-5: Ease Symptoms At Work
You need to work and if you suffer from pain, fatigue or other symptoms of fibromyalgia, it becomes really difficult for you to hold on. However, you can find out ways to ease the symptoms even during your working hours.
Begin, by designing a flexible work plan that you and also your boss agree on. You can take on a work from home task or a part-time home task, or even set your working hours differently, either earlier in the morning or later in the evening, as flexible.
In case you are working in an office, arrange things in a good way so as to put less stress on your body. You can start by arranging the items on your desk and keep it clean and make it easy to use.
Tip No-6: Do Not Overdo
You must keep it noted, not to overdo, even on your good days. Since health problems associated with fibromyalgia are invisible, sometimes patients with fibromyalgia may feel added pressure to carry on like nothing is wrong. However, you must keep self relaxed and not strain you by overdoing things.
Tip No-7: Talk About The Symptoms With Your Loved Ones
Many patients with fibromyalgia find it challenging to talk about their condition with others. However, it is essential for you to talk about the symptoms you are experiencing, with your family members or loved ones. They can ultimately support you if you need it.
Tip No-8: Visit Support Groups
You can try joining a support group if you want to know what treatments have worked best for others struggling with pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. You may join a support group in-person or online and in both the cases, you can find a safe space to discuss your pain, frustrations, concerns and your overall health, with others dealing with the same medical problem.
Tip No-9: Have Special Time For Self
It is very much important for you to have “You time”. This is to keep away from stress that is mostly accompanied with fibromyalgia. Try relaxing with a good hobby or listen to your favorite music. You can also simply rest or read a good book or take a walk in the park near you. Having special time for self with help you find your life more in balance, you get less tress in life and have more energy to live.
Now, we know about some of the treatments for Fibromyalgia and also know about some of the tips to ease pain and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Hope this would be a beneficial one for you, if you were looking for some information on the same. It is always essential for you to talk to your doctor for the best of advice and treatments.