Fibromyalgia Treatment

Fibromyalgia Treatment

Fibromyalgia Treatment
Because no underlying disease process is known, doctors aim to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. A healthy diet and getting regular, low-impact exercise like yoga, walking or water aerobics are key to maintain your health with fibromyalgia. Your doctor may also prescribe pain medication and recommend support groups or counseling.

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    Numerous studies report that this form of low-impact exercise -- especially when done in warm water -- can help reduce fibromyalgia pain and stiffness, as well as fatigue and depression in many people with fibromyalgia. There are a variety of fun, get-wet workouts to choose from, including music-based aqua aerobics, underwater walking or jogging, strength training, stretching and water-based relaxation therapies like yoga, tai chi and Watsu.

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    People with fibromyalgia need to understand the important role that stress can play in causing and worsening this condition. Doctors have observed that many people who develop fibromyalgia experience symptoms for the first time following a highly stressful event, such as a car accident or undergoing surgery. Likewise, psychological stress can often cause fibromyalgia symptoms to worsen. For many people who have fibromyalgia, avoiding stress and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation may help to keep symptoms under control.
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    Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by widespread muscular and skeletal pain. Common treatments for fibromyalgia include maintaining physical activity, maintaining good sleep habits and counseling. Sometimes medications that do not include narcotics can be prescribed by your physicians. Joint pain can indicate a variety of conditions, and you should see your family physician to make sure that there is not another cause of your joint pain.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps in the treatment of fibromyalgia by changing how you think about your pain.

    CBT helps you change your thoughts from negative to positive. Negative thoughts about fibromyalgia include catastrophic thinking that the pain will never improve, that nothing you can do will help, and that achieving pain relief is hopeless. Typical negative thoughts might be:
    • "I'll never get better."
    • "It's hopeless."
    • "I'm doomed to spend my days on the couch."
    • "Nothing I do for pain makes a difference."
    CBT teaches you to give yourself positive messages.
    • "I'm taking control of my fibromyalgia, one day at a time."
    • "If I take a break and practice some pain techniques, my pain level will become more manageable."
    • "I'll schedule my activities more carefully so I don't do too much and get wiped out."
    • "Sticking with my exercise program will help reduce my disability."
    CBT helps you set realistic goals. Don't expect your treatment to cure your fibromyalgia. Realistic goals might include:
    • Decrease pain severity from severe to moderate
    • Decrease the time you spend in bed or lying on the sofa
    • Increase your ability to do household chores and attend family activities and social functions
    • Reduce problems with mood or anxiety
    • Improve sleep
    • Improve bowel function
    • Reduce your reliance on medications
    Try setting specific goals for yourself. Instead of "wanting to be more active," set targets such as "being able to shop for 20 minutes," "being able to walk 20 minutes each day," and "being able to cook dinner for the family."

    Schedule your tasks for success. You'll be more successful if you break tasks into smaller segments. For example, if you want to do the laundry, load and run the machine in the morning, then do your stretching exercises, followed by a 10-minute walk. Switch clothes to the dryer in the afternoon and practice some deep breathing. Finally, fold the clothes while sitting down watching television in the evening. If you break tasks down and take breaks between segments, it will be easier to accomplish your goals.
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    A combination of medication and stretching exercises can be used to treat muscle spasms and fibromyalgia. Often, pain and muscle spasms occur at the same time with fibromyalgia. These spasms usually occur in the parts of your body that you use the most: your neck, shoulders and feet.

    There are medications available to treat muscle spasms. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about options, both prescription and non-prescription, that can help.

    If you experience a sudden muscle spasm, gentle stretching can help. A physical therapist can teach you proper techniques for gentle stretching so that you can practice at home.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Many different types of physicians treat patients with fibromyalgia, including:
    • Primary care doctors (family physicians or internists)
    • Rheumatologists
    • Physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists)
    • Neurologists
    • Pain management specialists
    Rheumatologists are sometimes considered arthritis specialists. Although fibromyalgia is not a disease of the joints or a type of arthritis, rheumatologists often also specialize in treating it. In many cases, primary care physicians, including family doctors or internists, can effectively manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. If your primary care doctor has failed to achieve good results, you may wish to see a rheumatologist or other fibromyalgia or pain specialist.

    In many cases, you might also work with other healthcare professionals who offer effective fibromyalgia treatments. These might include:
    • Behavioral psychologists -- to teach you specific pain management skills.
    • Physical therapists or exercise trainers -- to develop and monitor exercise programs and address additional muscle or joint problems.
    • Occupational therapists -- to address scheduling, problems with getting tasks done, or issues at work.
    • Nutritionists -- to address diet, weight management, and the use of herbs and supplements.
    Don't forget that you are the most important member of your healthcare treatment team. Your healthcare providers can give you the tools you need to help reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms and the impact these symptoms have on your life, but the success of your treatment depends on your commitment and motivation to incorporate the treatments into your daily life.
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    Ideally, the minimum number of medical team members required to treat a person with fibromyalgia must include:
    • A doctor to oversee the overall treatment regimen including prescribing and monitoring medications.
    • A complementary medical professional to guide the person with fibromyalgia in discerning what type of alternative therapy protocols might be beneficial, such as an aerobic exercise program. This healthcare professional also monitors the program’s success, makes appropriate activity changes and motivates the patient.
    • A mental health expert adept at cognitive behavior therapy who can also counsel people in learning how to make adjustments in their lives to accommodate changes that naturally occur when living with a chronic illness.
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    Fibromyalgia is normally diagnosed during middle age, but some symptoms - such as morning stiffness -- can become more of an issue with age.

    People with rheumatoid arthritis or other types of arthritis may be more likely to have fibromyalgia, and arthritis is more common in seniors. At any age, if you have concerns about your fibromyalgia treatment plan, talk with your doctor. He or she should help you find solutions that will help manage your fibromyalgia symptoms over time.
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    Nerve stimulation can sometimes be used to relieve pain, but it isn't very effective for treating fibromyalgia. Nerve stimulation involves using tiny electrical bursts to stimulate your nerves. This is more specifically referred to as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS. While this treatment can be very effective at treating a specific area of your body for pain, it isn't nearly as effective for a condition like fibromyalgia that tends to cause pain in a large majority of your body. Talk to your doctor about finding the right treatment plan for your fibromyalgia.

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    A , Emergency Medicine, answered
    Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant drug that works through its effects on brain chemicals. It is used to treat depression. It can also reduce pain and fatigue and improve sleep. Amitriptyline is considered first-line treatment for fibromyalgia, but is not FDA-approved for this use.

    This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.