Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Fibromyalgia pain is often described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. The pain occurs on both sides of your body and above and below your waist. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time, and fibromyalgia suffers have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. The pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job.
Symptoms begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually occur with no single triggering event. Repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change, and abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain and to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.
Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, and makes you more susceptible to developing the disorder. Infections appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression. Fibromyalgia suffers also may experience cramping in the lower abdomen. Suffers report a symptom referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms.
- Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium may be helpful. Your doctor might suggest a prescription pain reliever such as tramadol (Ultram, Conzip).
- Antidepressants. Duloxetine and milnacipran may help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Your doctor may prescribe amitriptyline at night to help promote sleep.
- Anti-seizure drugs. Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain. Gabapentin is sometimes helpful in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, while pregabalin was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia.
- Reduce stress. Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax.
- Get enough sleep. Getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits.
- Exercise regularly. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program.
- Moderation. do not overdo it on your good days, but likewise it means not self-limiting or doing too little on the days when symptoms flare.
- Healthy lifestyle choices. Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake.
Alternative therapies for pain
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a Chinese medical system based on restoring normal balance of life forces by inserting very fine needles through the skin to various depths.
- Massage therapy. This is one of the oldest methods of health care still in practice. Massage can reduce your heart rate, relax your muscles, improve range of motion in your joints and increase production of your body’s natural painkillers. It often helps relieve stress and anxiety.
- Yoga and tai chi. These practices combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing and relaxation. Both have been found to be helpful in controlling fibromyalgia symptoms.
If your pain persists, contact Florida Pain Medicine for a consultation. Treatment can help provide relief from your symptoms and decrease pain. Our pain specialist at Florida Pain Medicine can address your individual needs to help you get and keep moving. See your pain care specialist today and begin to improve your quality of life.