Fibromyalgia is a disorder whose chief symptom is pain, the kind of pain that is called musculoskeletal pain (in the muscles, bones and joints).
The other significant symptoms of Fibromyalgia are intense fatigue, difficulty sleeping, problems with memory and severe moods (either swinging between highs and lows or even a vague depression).
Fibromyalgia is a very complicated disorder. Sometimes it evidences itself after a physical or emotional trauma, sometimes it shows up after a medical procedure, and sometimes there appears to be no “trigger”.
You could be at risk for Fibromyalgia if you have rheumatic diseases. Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women.
Fibromyalgia can be tricky to diagnose. In general, fibromyalgia will be suspected if you experience pain, often in the form of a dull ache, a pain that does not go away for at least three months. The pain needs to be experienced in multiple locations, on both the left and right sides of the body and both above and below the waist.
At Michigan Spine and Pain, we are aware that Fibromyalgia treatment must be individualized. We cannot eradicate Fibromyalgia, but we can work together to try to keep the symptoms at bay through therapies, medication and maintaining a good level of general health, through proper diet, exercise and restorative sleep schedules.
Medication can be as simple as over the counter pain relievers, prescription pain relievers, certain anti-depressants, medication to aid in sleeping better or certain anti-seizure medication. All of these substances need to be monitored and part of regular conversation between you and your health care provider, so we can be sure that the medication is effective and is not creating other unwanted side effects.
Regularly prescribed medications for Fibromyalgia:
- Acetaminophen (like Tylenol)
- Ibuprofen (like Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen Sodium ( like Aleve)
- Tramodol (prescription pain reliever)
- Antidepressants like Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella)
- Anti depressants that can help with sleeping issues like amitriptyline, fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Anti-seizure medications like Gabapentin, Neurontin, Gralise
- Pregabalin (Lyrica), approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia.
Psychological Counseling can be quite helpful. It is important to find strategies to decrease stress, discover what stessors are in your life, facilitate communication with your family members to assist you in your fibromyalgia journey, as well as searching for patterns for high and low pain times. Fibromyalgia patients are at higher risk for anxiety and depression and counseling can help to manage these, as well.
- Gentle stretching exercises can often help to reduce pain and to increase flexibility and range of motion.
- Gentle massage can be utilized to ameliorate tender areas on the body and to facilitate relaxation.
- TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is typically used for specific pain areas in our pain patients. Since fibromyalgia pain tends to be more widespread, health care providers were hesitant to use TENS. However, recent evidence indicates that TENS can relieve severe “hot spots” in fibromyalgia patients.
Complementary medicine: Research indicates that many patients get relief from cupping, a practice of Chinese acupuncture.
- Regular sleep schedule: Fibromyalgia patients need to get a reasonable amount of sleep. On the other hand, fibromyalgia patients should not remain in bed for extended periods of time as this can contribute to muscle pain and can exacerbate fatigue and depression.
- Exercise: When permitted, exercise is a great antidote to pain. Even moderate walking on a daily basis can alleviate certain symptoms of fibromyalgia and contributes to all aspects of physical and mental health. Other regularly prescribed exercises include water aerobics, swimming and biking.
- Healthy diet: A balanced diet that takes into account any other food restrictions can impact fibromyalgia patients. Certain foods can serve as pain triggers. Overeating and undereating generally worsen pain symptoms.
- Good routines: Fibromyalgia patients have to work very hard to have regular routines that require them to get up and get moving as much as possible. One of the biggest challenges for fibromyalgia patients is not letting chronic pain reduce activity and enjoyment levels of everyday life as well as productivity, whether it is in the work sphere or in the world at large.
- Reduce stress: This sounds impossible, as life is stressful. But, you can reduce your obligations, you can plan ahead so you are not caught doing things last minute, whether it is for work, volunteer or home. Quitting work is usually not the answer, however, because having a predictable routine where you are required to be productive is psychologically beneficial for fibromyalgia patients.