Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, treatment can help alleviate some symptoms and improve quality of life. When it comes to your care and treatment, your primary care physician (PCP) will play a significant role. Based on your preferences and the currently available therapies, they can advise you on the best course of action.
Multiple other medical personnel, such as a:
Rheumatologist – a medical doctor who focuses on muscle and joint disorders
Neurologist – a medical doctor who focuses on issues related to the brain and spinal cord
Psychologist – a psychologist is a doctor who focuses on mental illness and its treatment.
The wide variety of fibromyalgia symptoms makes it impossible to find a universally effective treatment. What works for one person may not benefit another. It may take trying a few different approaches to find the right one. The usual treatment entails a mix of pharmaceuticals and behavioral modifications.
Treatment for fibromyalgia may involve a combination of painkillers, sleep aids, and antidepressants.
There are instances when simple painkillers like paracetamol, purchased without a prescription from a pharmacy, can help with the pain of fibromyalgia. These are inappropriate for everyone, so read the manufacturer's directions before taking the medication.
If over-the-counter painkillers are not helping, your GP (or other treating healthcare provider) may prescribe something stronger, like codeine or tramadol. However, these analgesics have the potential for addiction and typically lose efficacy after prolonged use.
Because of this, you might need to raise your dose gradually, and stopping treatment suddenly might cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Diarrhea and excessive exhaustion are two other negative effects (fatigue).
Some persons with fibromyalgia find that antidepressant medication helps ease their symptoms. They increase the availability of neurotransmitters, the molecules responsible for transmitting signals within the brain.
Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia may be caused partly by low levels of neurotransmitters and that raising those levels may help alleviate the widespread pain that characterizes this disorder.
Antidepressants come in a variety of forms. The intensity of your symptoms and potential drug side effects should be considered when making a medication selection. Fibromyalgia treatments that involve antidepressants include:
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac and Fluoxetine (Tricyclics) like Amitriptyline
- SNRIs like Duloxetine and Venlafaxine SNRIs like Venlafaxine and Fluoxetine (Prozac) like Fluoxetine (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Fluoxetine (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Fluox
A drug called pramipexole is not an antidepressant but is used at times because of its effect on neurotransmitter levels. Common adverse reactions to antidepressants include:
- Symptoms include nausea, dry mouth, and fatigue
- Shaking hands, feeling dizzy
- Increased hunger and constipation
Consult the medication's accompanying patient information booklet for details on any potential adverse reactions.
Medicine to Help You Sleep
Medications to aid sleep may be desirable for those with fibromyalgia. Some of your other symptoms may lessen if you start sleeping better. If you think you might benefit from a medication like this, consult your primary care physician.
They could suggest an OTC treatment or prescribe a brief course of a harsher medicine. The quality of your sleep may also improve if you take an antidepressant. If you're having trouble sleeping, there are some effective strategies and medications you may learn more about by reading up on treating insomnia.
Other Treatment Options
Fibromyalgia pain can be managed with a combination of medicine and alternative therapies. Among these are:
- Exercising, stretching, or swimming in a heated pool (known as hydrotherapy or balneotherapy)
- The unique physical training regimen
- Behavior and thought modification (CBT) - cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy to alter one's thought patterns to facilitate more productive problem-solving.
- Psychotherapy is a talking therapy that aims to improve one's mental health by illuminating and addressing one's inner experiences.
- Therapy or a community of people who understand your struggles with fibromyalgia are examples of psychological assistance. For tips on how to exercise and unwind in the face of fibromyalgia pain, check out a self-help book.
The fibromyalgia community has seen some success with alternative and complementary therapies like:
There is scant scientific proof that these kinds of therapy are beneficial. However, some patients report that particular treatments ease their symptoms and stress levels, allowing them to manage their illness better.
According to scientific studies, some alternative treatments, such as plant extracts, have been shown to be ineffective in treating fibromyalgia. Inquire with your primary care physician before using any alternative or herbal treatments. Some treatments may have unwanted side effects or interact poorly with others.
The Final Verdict
Extreme, multidimensional disability is sometimes associated with fibromyalgia. The situation requires multidisciplinary management. Patients with this complex condition can benefit clinically from a methodical, patient-centered approach in primary care that focuses on reducing symptoms and increasing function and quality of life. Treatments that don't use drugs are crucial.
In conjunction with a rigorous therapeutic regimen, medication can be an invaluable aid to recovery. Amitriptyline, duloxetine, milnacipran, and pregabalin may help some patients, but that's not always the case. Consequences of a drug's use, known as adverse events, should be tracked closely since they can limit the treatment's effectiveness.