There are many treatment options for fibromyalgia, including medications, lifestyle changes, non-medication pain relief techniques, and counselling. People with fibromyalgia should use a combination of different treatment options to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Your doctor may recommend one or more medications to help you manage your fibromyalgia symptoms:
Medications for fibromyalgia pain: Duloxetine (Cymbalta®) and pregabalin (Lyrica®) are used to manage fibromyalgia pain. They are believed to work by affecting the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that send pain messages in the brain.
General pain relievers: These medications work in to reduce pain, and some also reduce inflammation. Examples include acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), and tramadol (Ralivia®, Tridural®, Zytram XL®).
Medications to help with sleep: If you are having difficulty sleeping, your doctor may recommend a sleeping pill. These pills are not used to manage fibromyalgia – only to help you sleep. They are not intended to be used for long periods of time. An example of a sleeping pill is zopiclone (Imovane®).
Medications to help with depression: Some people with fibromyalgia may also suffer from depression. If this occurs, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant medication such as amitriptyline (generics), fluoxetine (Prozac®), or venlafaxine (Effexor XR®).
There are many non-medication options to help you cope with fibromyalgia, including:
- aerobic exercise (such as walking or swimming), stretching, and strength training
- non-medication pain relief techniques such as heating pads or cold packs, acupuncture, massage, and TENS (a machine that provides mild electrical pulses to help relieve pain)
- physical therapy
- stress management techniques such as deep breathing, biofeedback, hypnosis, and meditation
- "pacing yourself" so that you don't try to do too much in one day
- healthy eating (eat 5 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, avoid alcohol and caffeine, eat small frequent meals, and include foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish and canola oil)
- sleep techniques such as having a consistent bedtime, having a warm bath before bed, making the bedroom dark and quiet, and using your bed only for sleep and intimacy
Counselling and support
Coping with fibromyalgia can put a strain on your mental health, and it helps to get support from people who understand. Counsellors can help you find new strength and ways to cope with stress. Support groups can give you access to a community of people who understand your challenges because they have "been there."
Ask your doctor to refer you to a counsellor who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia.
You can also find a support group near you by visiting the community support database.
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