Fibromyalgia is a condition associated with chronic pain, and is known to target both ligaments and muscles. The condition used to be known under the term fibrositis. While it is believed that only four percent of the United States population has fibromyalgia, it is entirely possible that there are people who suffer from the condition without a diagnosis. For many individuals suffering with fibromyalgia, the biggest problem is there is no known cure, instead there are treatments and remedies that have proven to be effective in helping to combat a majority of the symptoms.
For those looking to treat their fibromyalgia, there are both medicinal and non-medicinal treatment options. Primarily, the medicinal treatments are used in dealing with not only the sleeplessness, but also the pain associated with the condition. While these treatments are helpful, it is the non-medicinal options that are the true basis for achieving some sort of relief from symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
Amongst the medication treatment options, there are pain relievers, anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants. Typically, the pain relievers associated with treating fibromyalgia are over-the-counter. This is primarily due to the idea that prolonged narcotics use can eventually lead to a dependence, and can sometimes worsen the pain experienced over the long term. Antidepressants have also been known to help relieve pain, while also easing some of the fatigue that comes with the condition. They can also help prevent sleeplessness, which can be a common complaint. While anti-seizure medications may seem odd in relation to a pain condition, these drugs can often be found reducing some pain in patients. In fact, one of the first drugs to ever be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in treating patients with fibromyalgia was pregabalin, also known as Lyrica.
It is vital for patients living with fibromyalgia to educate themselves on not only non-medicinal options for treatment, but also on what the condition is, what types of remedies are available and dealing with any other conditions they may have. One of the most critical aspects of managing this chronic pain condition is self-care, which goes hand-in-hand with non-medicinal treatments.
Many medical experts list education as one of the preferred non-medicinal treatments. Also on the list of non-medicinal treatments are stress reduction, exercise, sleep and an overall healthy lifestyle. There are also some unconventional treatment options that help some individuals who suffer with fibromyalgia, but these options do not work for everyone and there are even some studies that suggest there is no benefit to at least one of the options. These alternative treatments include massage therapy, tai chi, yoga and acupuncture.
Reducing stress is something that can be challenging but possible. Creating a plan to either limit or avoid over-exerting one’s self and emotional stress can help with some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Making time to relax can be crucial to bringing stress levels down. Meditation and deep-breathing techniques can also help in managing stress.
Sleep is essential to managing fibromyalgia. Not only is it important to get enough sleep, but it is also important to exhibit good habits of sleep. This can mean not taking naps during the day or both getting up and going to bed at the same time every day.
Exercise is another key treatment for managing pain. Although it can increase pain levels at first, gradual and regular exercise is often associated with a decrease in symptoms. Water aerobics, swimming, walking and biking are all recommended exercises. Having good posture, plus constant stretching is also considered to be helpful for people looking to alleviate pain.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is a strong aspect of treating fibromyalgia symptoms. It is important to not only eat foods that are healthy and rich in nutrients, but to also limit one’s intake of caffeine. Caffeine can be a trigger for many individuals with chronic pain. Living a life that is fulfilling and enjoyable can help a person lead a lifestyle that is healthy and enriched.
For those people looking for the more unconventional approached to treating their fibromyalgia, acupuncture can be beneficial. Acupuncture is known to help restore “balance of life forces” by using fine needles puncturing the skin at particular points of the body. Yoga and tai chi can help people with relaxation and meditation. It is the slow movements and deep breathing techniques found in these two methods that can help people trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress levels. One of the more readily accepted unconventional methods of treatment is massage therapy. As one of the methods considered to be the oldest health care practices still in use, this manipulative technique can help reduce one’s heart rate, improve range of motion, relax muscles and increase the production of natural painkillers within the body. Massage therapy can also be used for reducing levels of anxiety and stress.
Although there is still no known cure for fibromyalgia, being aware of the remedies and treatments that can help in managing symptoms can be vital to dealing with living with the condition of chronic pain. Many healthcare professionals believe it is the non-medicinal treatments that are the cornerstones to living a better life with fibromyalgia. Until there is a cure, it is these options that will allow people to live a fuller life.
By Kimberley Spinney
American College of Rheumatology
Photo by azarius – Flickr License