What are the Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia?
Ideally, the treatment of fibromyalgia should involve you and your doctor, as well as (in many cases) a physical therapist, mental health expert, and other health care professionals. The first part is education on the disease and for the patient to see it as a real illness, and your pain is not “all in your head”. The discussion we have with our patients also is see fibromyalgia is not a degenerative or deforming condition, nor does it result in life-threatening complications. However, very importantly treatment of chronic pain and fatigue is challenging, and there are no “quick cures”
We have come a long way in our understanding the disease. The example I use is that many years ago if a doctor found a patient with pain, fatigue and normal investigations it was straight to mental hospital or doctor literally avoiding the patient. Now things are better we have treatments that may be helpful in relieving pain, improving your quality of sleep, and improving your mood. Examples of medicines include pregabalin, selective serotonin inhibitors, gabapentin and usual pain killers. In cases of symptoms outside pain and fatigue we involve mental health team, gastroenterologists (digestive problems), neurologists (headaches, brain fog), physiotherapist and in the extreme cases pain specialists. Have had a few cases where we needed help from pain specialists.
Exercise, stretching programs, and other activities are also important in helping to manage symptoms. An approach that involves combining multiple different types of intervention into an organized treatment program is usually best. Being physically active will not cause harm or long-term muscle damage, and it can help improve pain and function. We encourage our patients to do exercise as research has shown that this improves sleep, fatigue and overall, well-being of the patient.
Managing expectations of the patient is another discussion I have with the patients. The symptoms may often increase or decrease over time but there maybe some degree of muscle pain and fatigue may persist. Nevertheless, most people with fibromyalgia improve, and most people lead full, active lives.