Fibromyalgia is a debilitating and painful illness. If you have the illness, then you are most likely wondering what is the best way to manage your symptoms.
While there is no cure for FM, there are both traditional and alternative methods for managing the symptoms.
Read on to see which method of treatment is the best one for you and your life situation. This is a useful YouTube video on FM.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that afflicts countless people in this country. It is much more common in women.
The illness is known as being somewhat of a phantom illness because there are no objectively testable phenomena to base a diagnosis on.
FM results in pain and tenderness to the touch that occurs all over the body. However, the illness consists of other symptoms as well.
Doctors diagnose FM according to many different symptoms. These may include fatigue, tenderness, problems in the functioning, and a lack of overall well-being. There may be cognitive difficulties and sleep disturbances as well.
Additional symptoms may include depression or anxiety, headaches, pelvic pain, bladder issues, IBS, and GERD.
According to the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, there is no cure for FM. Approaches to management and relief of symptoms are recommended by doctors.
Your doctor can develop strategies to reduce chronic symptoms and flare-ups. You must be careful because it is known that chronic pain issues often cause people afflicted with the illness to become withdrawn and depressed.
What Are the Different FM Treatments?
There are many different kinds of FM treatments. These include:
- Alternative Remedies
- Lifestyle habits
- Physical therapy
- Stress reduction
How Do Doctors Treat FM Fatigue?
Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of FM. Not only will you suffer from exhaustion and weakness, but resting in bed does not seem to alleviate the issue.
Many people who suffer from FM report getting a lot of sleep, yet they still are exhausted.
Certain drugs can help with the fatigue suffered from FM. Also, aerobic exercise may aid in relieving fatigue.
It may help with minimizing pain, improving the quality of sleep, and elevating mood.
How Can Exercise Help with FM?
Several studies indicate that exercise is crucial for dealing with FM. Many patients with the illness are not in good physical shape.
They might avoid exercise because they think that it will increase their pain. The truth is that exercise will actually relieve your pain and depression.
Getting regular exercise increases the body’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers that can also elevate mood.
To avoid feeling too much pain from the exercise itself, try starting slowly and gradually increasing the length and intensity of your regimen.
How Can a Physical Therapist Treat FM?
Physical therapy can help ease FM pain and stiffness. Your physical therapist will increase confidence with exercise, relax tense muscles, and instruct you concerning your condition.
Your therapist can instruct you to stretch out to obtain relief from symptoms. Also, hydrotherapy together with physical therapy will ease pain too.
Physical therapy will give you some control over the illness. It will help you to center on altering your lifestyle rather than on the dysfunction.
Your therapist can help you with proper posture. This will promote efficient muscle function.
Which Drugs Are Used to Treat FM?
Antidepressants are many times used to alleviate FM symptoms. One of these drugs is amitriptyline (Elavil).
These drugs can affect many of the symptoms associated with FM. These include pain, fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbance.
The drug pregabalin (Lyrica) is used to treat FM. Lyrica diminishes pain and improves function for some patients. There are possible side effects, however. These include dizziness and sleepiness.
Lyrica may result in swelling and weight gain as well. The FDA recommends that you should speak to your physician about whether the drug may impair your ability to operate a car. Other anticonvulsants have also been used to treat FM.
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is another antidepressant that can be used for FM. Cymbalta belongs to a group of drugs that are known as SNRIs. Cymbalta is also used to treat diabetic neuropathy and generalized anxiety disorder.
The side effects of Cymbalta include nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. It may also result in insomnia and dizziness.
The FDA has also approved a drug called milnacipran (Savella) for the treatment of FM. Savella is also an SNRI.
However, it is not prescribed to deal with depression. It has been shown to diminish pain, enhance bodily capabilities, and cause overall improvement for many patients.
The most typical side effect of Savella is nausea. It may also cause a headache, constipation, dizziness, and insomnia.
Drugs that are sleep aids may also help with FM symptoms. These medications include drugs such as amitriptyline. It is taken before sleep. Other sleeping pills have not been found to be useful for FM.
Anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen and naproxen, are not useful for symptoms.
This is because FM does not have any inflammation associated with it. However, they may help augment the relief that you get from other drugs.
These drugs have numerous side effects. These include stomach upset and bleeding and increases in blood pressure.
Acetaminophen might be useful, and it has fewer side effects. However, too much of this drug can result in liver issues.
Muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine, may ease muscle pain, particularly when taken before sleep.
Steroids have not been generally useful in treating FM. However, injections may be useful where other treatments have not been successful.
In addition to drugs, other treatments may be used. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you gain some self-control and educate you about the condition.
Talk therapy can help heighten coping skills that will help you manage your symptoms.
Can Alternative Treatments Help with FM?
If you haven’t gotten any relief from other treatments, then alternative treatments may be the thing for you. This is also the case if you are worried about the use of drugs to treat your symptoms.
WebMD mentions some forms of alternative therapy that may be of help to you:
Acupuncture – There is some research that indicates that acupuncture may change brain chemistry and aid in dealing with pain.
Chiropractic – Chiropractic may help with pain, resolve low back pain, and aid with your range of motion.
Massage – Massage can stimulate the body and resolve muscular tension.
Biofeedback – Biofeedback measures stress-related responses in the body. This may help some people gain control over the stress response.
Meditation – Research indicates that meditation can produce brain waves that go along with serenity and happiness. This can help resolve anxiety issues.
Tai Chi and qigong – These are two Asian methods for easing the pain, resolving sleep issues, and gaining control over depression.
Herbals and dietary supplements – Research on the relationship between natural dietary supplements and FM is sparse.
However, certain people have found some relief in them. People have used the following supplements for FM:
- Alpha hydroxy
Some of these may interact with drugs and other supplements. Consult a doctor before you try any of these.
Medical marijuana can’t cure FM, but some pain experts say that it may resolve pain, help you sleep better, and improve your mood. Other experts say that it is not useful for managing FM pain.
How Does Your Doctor Diagnose FM?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the diagnostic procedure for FM used to be different than it is now.
In the past, doctors would check 18 specific points on the body to see if they had any pain. Now, a diagnosis is made if a patient has generalized pain for a number of months.
There is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of FM. However, your doctor may do blood work to rule out any other conditions that may be involved.
What Causes FM?
According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors don’t know what causes FM. However, it may involve a variety of factors working together. These may include:
Genetics – The illness tends to run in families. There may be certain genetic mutations that may increase your risk factor for developing the illness.
Infections – Certain illnesses seem to trigger or aggravate FM.
Physical or emotional trauma – FM may sometimes be triggered by physical trauma. This can happen after a car accident. Stress may also trigger the illness.
Recently, there has been some research that has related FM to neuroinflammation. Dr. Ginevra Liptan composed an article that discusses this issue.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, we have seen that there are many ways to manage it. One way of managing the illness seems to be no better than another.
You need to speak to your doctor about what will be best for you.
However, for those who are wary of the toxic effects of medications, physical therapy or alternative treatments may be more attractive methods.