Perhaps you’ve heard the word Fibromyalgia before but weren’t sure what it was. Maybe you believe you suffer from this frequently mysterious condition, but aren’t positive. Whatever the case, know that you are not alone. Over ten million Americans have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
The majority of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women between the ages of 40 and 55. Fibromyalgia is characterized by the feeling of widespread pain and intense fatigue. Diagnosis and treatment can be difficult because many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to those of other types of arthritis.
Treatment of fibromyalgia entails controlling the symptoms of the disease. There is no one treatment option that works for all fibromyalgia sufferers. All fibromyalgia patients feel different symptoms, further confounding the difficulty of treatment.
Your first step toward treatment is to discuss with your doctor your particular symptoms. If your primary symptom is pain, your doctor could prescribe medications intended to manage your pain. When your doctor starts you on a new pain medication, he or she will probably begin with the lowest dosage possible. Be aware that it may require an extended period of trial and error before you find the right medications for your case.
Your doctor should work with you to find the right combination of pain medications. If your main symptom is inflammation, your doctor will probably prescribe you NSAIDs. This is a class of drugs that are non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory.
Although NSAIDs can be effective, many patients report no substantial improvement in symptoms. If you suffer from extreme pain or pressure at a specific tender point, your doctor may prescribe cortisone injections. This treatment can provide significant pain relief in specific tender points.
Dealing with Emotions
Many fibromyalgia patients report feelings of anxiety and depression. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, your doctor will probably prescribe some form of anti-depressant. Another common symptom is the inability to sleep, which only compounds the feelings of fatigue that so many fibromyalgia patients report.
Anti-depressants or sleep aids may be used to help ease the patient into sleep, while increasing the amount of serotonin in the patient’s bloodstream. Because you may be taking pain medications, your doctor will have to balance these drugs carefully. The goal of drug treatment should be to control the symptoms of fibromyalgia with little or no side effects.
There are many non-drug treatment options for fibromyalgia patients as well. Exercise has been shown to reduce the overall feelings of pain and fatigue that so many patients experience. Many patients also experience substantial relief through heat pads, shower therapies, and water exercise. Heat appears to help relief muscle pain, so any form of warm water therapy or exercise is recommended for fibromyalgia sufferers.