Fibromyalgia and Pain
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by musculoskeletal pain. Pain relief is key for those who suffer from it. Patients often times become discouraged when a particular treatment doesn’t help. Fortunately, there are many options for easing pain that can help people with fibromyalgia enjoy a better quality of life.
How Chronic Pain Harms the Brain
Chronic pain isn’t good for your body or your brain. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reported that people who suffer from chronic pain have a certain section of the brain that stays “on,” rather than shutting down when it should.
Over time, this can result in insomnia, depression, and difficulty making decisions. These symptoms make treatment vital.
Medication is often the first line of treatment to reduce fibromyalgia pain. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. But the National Fibromyalgia Association reports that OTC pain relievers tend not to be very helpful.
Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever like tramadol (Ultram or Conzip) if OTC pain relievers don’t provide relief. These medications are described as “weak” opioid drugs, and may help with pain. They also may have lower risks of addiction than other opioids like codeine, oxycodone, and morphine.
Prescription Medications Can Help
Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to help you feel better. Antidepressants can also ease pain and fatigue. Those who experience anxiety as a result of their symptoms may benefit from anti-anxiety medications.
Some seizure medications may help reduce pain. Pregabalin (Lyrica) was the first anti-seizure drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fibromyalgia treatment.
Yoga for Relief
Sometimes medications are not effective in relieving pain. They may not provide enough relief, or side effects may outweigh the benefits. Exercises, herbal medicines, and other alternative options may provide better solutions.
Research from Oregon Health & Science University found that fibromyalgia patients who participated in yoga classes experienced less pain, reduced fatigue, and improved mood. The classes included gentle poses, meditation, breathing exercises, and group discussions.
Other studies have found similar results. Try taking a yoga class. Just be sure to let the instructor know about your condition, so they can adjust the poses as needed for you.
Fibromyalgia patients often have low levels of this vitamin. According to research, supplements could help with pain.
In a 2013 study, researchers tested to see if supplements would make a difference in symptoms. The researchers found that patients felt much better physically and experienced less fatigue when they were given vitamin D supplements.
A 2011 study found that using ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) twice a week reduced muscle aches and improved disturbed sleep.
An earlier 2000 study reviewed treatment options for fibromyalgia patients. Researchers found that physical therapy techniques could help reduce pain. Methods included:
- trigger point injection
- whole body cryotherapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Fibromyalgia pain can take an emotional toll on your health. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve pain and improve your overall physical function.
Therapy sessions focused on the mind-body connection, meditation, and movement can help improve pain, fatigue, mood, and sleeplessness. Ask your doctor if they can recommend a cognitive behavioral therapist.
Many Other Options
Although pain is characteristic of fibromyalgia, there are many treatment options available to help with relief. Talk with your doctor about alternative treatment options including meditation, diet modifications, and herbal supplements.
If one method doesn’t work, don’t give up! Continue to try different treatment options until you find one that’s right for you.
You may want to try acupuncture even if you’re squeamish about needles. A study published in the Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine showed that fibromyalgia patients that received acupuncture benefited from pain relief compared to those who didn’t.
While it may sound odd, research shows that bee venom may be effective in acupuncture treatments. A small study found that injecting diluted bee venom into acupoints reduced musculoskeletal pain.