Common, Alternative & Experimental Fibromyalgia Treatment Plans
A lot of different fibromyalgia treatment options are available, and each of us needs a customized treatment regimen. It’s important to work with your doctor to find what works for you. It can take a lot of experimentation to find your ideal combination of fibromyalgia treatments.
Fibromyalgia Treatment – A Multidisciplinary Approach
Some experts say the best fibromyalgia treatment is a multidisciplinary approach. That means a team of professionals with different skill and specialties finding what works best for each patient. The suggested team includes:
- Medical psychologist
- Physical therapist
- Massage therapist
- Exercise physiologist
Prescription drugs are often the first fibromyalgia treatment people try. Along with fibromyalgia, however, frequently comes sensitivity to medications and a high likelihood of having side effects, so experts recommend using the lowest possible dose. The only medications officially approved as fibromyalgia treatments are medications (pregabalin), depression meds (duloxetine) and Savella (milnacipran).
Sleep Problems & Fibromyalgia Treatment
Better sleep is proven to alleviate symptoms, so solving sleep problems is a common part of fibromyalgia treatment. It’s hard enough to sleep when you’re in pain, but the sleep problems that can go along with fibromyalgia are more complicated that that. Many fibromyalgia suffers also have chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep disorders such as insomnia. A lot of people with fibromyalgia are on prescription sleep medications.
Researchers aren’t sure whether people with fibromyalgia also are often clinically depressed because of their symptoms or because the two conditions have a common physiological cause. It’s important to watch for signs of depression and to talk to a doctor if you think you are depressed. You may benefit from antidepressant drugs, counseling, or both. Antidepressant drugs are a common fibromyalgia treatment, in people with or without depression.
Treating other symptoms:
Drugs that typically aren’t effective as a fibromyalgia treatment:
Trigger-Point Injections as Fibromyalgia Treatment
A trigger point differs from the tender points used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Trigger points are tight, ropy bands of muscle that form when a muscle does not relax properly. They’re often formed as a result of physical trauma, but doctors don’t yet understand why some people develop them while others do not. The trigger point can irritate or trap nerves and cause what’s called referred pain, which is pain felt elsewhere along the nerve. Frequently, you can feel a trigger point just below the skin, and if you push on it you could cause an involuntary twitch. As a fibromyalgia treatment, trigger-point injections are sometimes used to treat these extremely painful areas. The doctor inserts a small needle directly into the trigger point and injects a local anesthetic such as numbing cream or procaine. Patients typically report lasting relief after just a few treatments.
Acupuncture & Bodywork as Fibromyalgia Treatment
Scientists don’t fully understand how acupuncture works, but some studies have shown it to be medically beneficial in many ways, including pain reduction. The specific acupuncture technique used to treat pain is sometimes called dry needling and is performed by certified acupuncturists and some physicians. When performed correctly, acupuncture is considered a low-risk procedure with few side effects, and it can be used either alone or in combination with other fibromyalgia treatment methods. Possible side effects include soreness, bleeding or bruising at the needle sites, and feeling tired after a session. In rare cases, an internal organ could be injured. Several other alternative and/or complementary treatments are used as fibromyalgia treatments as well, including massage and other types of bodywork; and mind-body treatments such as biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis. Some of these fibromyalgia treatments are supported by scientific evidence, while others are not. Still, even where there’s not scientific evidence, many people report success from these kinds of fibromyalgia treatments.
Several doctors and researchers have developed fibromyalgia treatment protocols that are backed by little or no scientific evidence. These doctors/researchers and many of their patients claim the protocols work. Other patients, however, say the protocols weren’t successful for them, and some experts say the protocols are little more than placebos and could even harm your health. It’s important to involve your doctor in any decisions you make on untested treatments.