What Are Your Fibromyalgia Treatment Options?
Fibromyalgia is a very common condition that has been considered a sort of mystery by doctors and researchers for over a hundred years.
Slowly over time more and more is being understood about this illness that causes multiple types of pain throughout the body, muscle stiffness, fatigue, brain fog, sensitivity to lights, sounds, cold, and heat, sleep disorders, and a long list of other symptoms and companion illnesses.
While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is still a mystery, there is a reason to believe there is a genetic component to the disorder. Some viruses and illnesses make a person more likely to develop fibromyalgia. It has also been seen that physical and emotional trauma are common triggers for fibromyalgia.
In all the research that has been done about this mysterious illness, one question that keeps arising is, how do you best treat an illness that you don’t really understand? The primary method that is currently used is to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia as well as finding ways to improve the individual's overall quality to life.
It is absolutely vital that we acknowledge that there is no magic cure for fibromyalgia. As of now, no pill, treatment, diet, or exercise will completely get rid of fibromyalgia. If someone tells you that there is, they are mostly either lying to you, or they don’t fully understand what fibromyalgia is.
But please do not despair! There are many options to lessen the impact that fibromyalgia has on your life. With some time and patience, you will hopefully find the right combination of things to help you to live your best life possible.
These fibromyalgia treatment options range from taking medication, making lifestyle and dietary changes and utilizing alternative treatments to help manage fibromyalgia as a whole and the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Medications to Treat Fibromyalgia
The first line of defense that most doctors employ is medication to reduce your fibromyalgia-related pain and/or improve the quality and amount of sleep you get. There are a few medications that may be used for these purposes.
Some medication can bring a lot of relief for some people. But not all medication has the same effect on each person that takes it. There is also a risk of side effects with any medication that you take.
Some medications that your doctor may suggest or prescribe:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Acetaminophen (Tylenol; Excedrin; others); ibuprofen (Advil; Motrin; others); naproxen sodium (Aleve; others). These OTC pain medications may help reduce the amount of pain you have, but many with fibro report getting little to no relief at all. It is also important to remember these medications can have harmful side effects, especially if they are not taken properly or with prolonged use.
- Prescription pain relievers. There are prescription strength pain relievers that some doctors may prescribe to fibro patients. But many doctors are hesitant to do so, as there is a chance some may become dependent on them. Also, of concern, are the number of side effects associated with pain medication, especially with prolonged and regular use. Prolonged use of pain medication can also lead to building up a tolerance to the medication, rendering it ineffective.
- Antidepressants. Duloxetine (Cymbalta); milnacipran (Savella); amitriptyline (Elavil); and venlafaxine (Effexor) are antidepressants that have been helpful with lessening pain and fatigue or improving quality of sleep for some with fibromyalgia.
- Muscle Relaxers. Some doctors may prescribe a muscle relaxant, such as cyclobenzaprine (Amrix; Fexmid; or Flexeril) to help reduce muscle stiffness and help you to fall asleep.
- Anti-seizure medication. Some medication that is specifically intended for epilepsy can also help decrease certain types of pain. Pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin) have been found to help calm overactive nerves, thereby reducing pain for some with fibro.
Vitamins and Supplements to Treat Fibromyalgia
Many with fibromyalgia also suffer with a variety of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Finding what you are deficient in and taking supplements or adding them into your diet can greatly improve some of your symptoms.
There are also a number of natural supplements that may help improve your pain levels or help you to sleep better.
Even when taking something that is natural though, there is a possibility of negative side effects. It is good to talk with your doctor and do research, to confirm that what you are wanting to try doesn’t interfere with any medications you are on, and to ensure you are taking the right dosage.
- Vitamin D. Deficiencies in vitamin D are very common. Vitamin D works to help the body maintain muscle strength and reduce inflammation. Taking a Vitamin D3 supplement can improve many symptoms of fibro; including pain, fatigue, and cognitive fatigue (brain fog).
- Magnesium. It is common for someone with fibromyalgia to have a magnesium deficiency. A magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle twitching and cramps, mental disorders, as well as fatigue and muscle weakness. Taking a magnesium citrate supplement or adding magnesium-rich foods into your diet can help with your pain levels, with the quality of your sleep, anxiety, and depression.
- 5-HTP. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that the body produces naturally. Taking a 5-HTP supplement will increase the amount of serotonin your body produces. It is thought that serotonin can help improve fibromyalgia symptoms; including pain, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.
- SAM-e. S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies, made from an amino acid. It is believed that SAMe can improve pain levels, stiffness, and tender points, as well as improving quality of sleep and lessening depression.
- Potassium. Low potassium levels can cause muscle spasms, cramping, and stiffness. Low potassium can also contribute to anxiety and depression. Adding potassium-rich foods to your diet, or taking a potassium supplement, may help to improve some of your pain and mood-related fibro symptoms.
- Natural sleep aids. There are a variety of sleep aids on the market, made from all-natural supplements. While there are several out there, one that I personally have tried is Somnapure. Somnapure combines melatonin; L-Theanine; valerian extract; hops extract; lemon balm; chamomile flower; and passion flower. I have found this to help me fall asleep faster and wake up more rested in the morning. And thanks to the better night’s rest, I have also seen improvement in my pain levels, fatigue, brain fog, and my mood.