The treatment of fibromyalgia varies considerably from patient to patient dependent on individual symptoms. No single treatment works for the condition and most sufferers find themselves handling a range of medication and treatments. Medication is most commonly teamed with lifestyle changes to help alleviate the worst symptoms.
Many fibromyalgia sufferers take a range of different medications, which are looked at in more depth below. All medication should be prescribed by your doctor. You should not be tempted to self-prescribe medications as this could lead to serious health problems.
Simple painkillers such as paracetamol can be effective in relieving some degree of the pain of fibromyalgia. This is not the case for everyone and therefore a GP may prescribe a stronger painkiller such as codeine or tramadol but intake of these painkillers is often closely monitored due to risk of addiction.
Antidepressant medication is often used to help relieve pain as they boost the levels of chemicals that carry messages to and from the brain. Low levels of these chemicals are known to be a potential factor in the cause of fibromyalgia so combatting it can make a huge difference to the widespread pain associated with the syndrome. There are different types of antidepressant medication and most GPs will offer a choice of three main types: tricycle antidepressants, SNRIs or SSRIs to fibromyalgia sufferers.
Sleep problems are commonly associated with fibromyalgia and can exacerbate the condition. Some GPs will prescribe medication to help with sleep but they may prefer to offer advice and tips for good sleeping techniques.
Many fibromyalgia sufferers live with muscle stiffness as well as pain and this can be eased with a muscle relaxant medication. Many muscle relaxants also have sedative qualities which can cancel out the need for the previous type of medication.
Some GPs will also consider adding anticonvulsant or antipsychotic medication to prescriptions as they can help manage pain in different ways, and with the causes of fibromyalgia still a mystery, many patients will try a range of different treatments before finding the one that works for them.
In addition to medication many people with fibromyalgia try other methods to help treat the condition. Hydrotherapy is becoming more popular as well as gentle exercise and swimming, often tailored by an expert in the field. Cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy have been known to ease the psychological symptoms of the condition which can in turn exacerbate some of the physical pain. Self-help groups and support communities are also heralded as very successful by some individuals.
From an alternative therapies perspective it is possible to use acupuncture, massage and reflexology in treating fibromyalgia although there is no evidence to suggest these therapies help in the long term. You should seek medical advice before taking part in any of these activities or therapies so as not to worsen any symptoms.
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