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|How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?
As fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, symptoms are managed rather than 'cured'. Most treatment options center around pain relief, the primary problem for fibromyalgia sufferers. Pain is most effectively treated by a combination of treatments including over the counter (OTC) drugs, prescription medications, non-drug therapies and self help alternative strategies such as following a fibromyalgia diet. Many fibromyalgia patients learn to read their own symptoms, and know when pain requires an OTC painkiller such as Tylenol or aspirin, or when it requires a stronger prescription medication such as Baclofen, Norflex or Soma. Not all pain relief medications work in the same way. Some work by filtering out pain through the nervous system while others work by relaxing muscles in the affected area. A fibromyalgia patient needs to work closely with their doctor to agree a personalized treatment plan. This may also involve additional medications for other symptoms such as sleep disorders, depression, irritable bowel syndrome or interstitial cystitis.
When seeking medical care: What type of doctor treats fibromyalgia?
This is a cough medicine which has been promoted by some doctors for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome. Guaifenesin is an ingredient found in many popular cough syrups and can be bought OTC without prescription. Promoted originally by Dr St Armand, an American endocrinologist, he suggested that guaifenesin can alleviate pain by gradually reducing the build up of phosphates in the body. Although there is no clinical proof that guaifenesin works, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it does. An inexpensive medication, guaifenesin has few side effects.
Dextromethorphan, an anti-cough medication may help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms, in particular pain. However, initial studies show that in order to be effective, the medication must be taken at prescription strength (that is 60mg to 90mg twice a day). Another possible option is to buy Delsym, an OTC drug which comes in a liquid form and is chemically similar to dextromethorphan.
In addition to cough medicines, other drugs which are classified as antihistamines for the treatment of colds may be recommended to people with fibromyalgia. These include Tylenol PM and Benadryl. Allergy and cold medications may help by boosting serotonin levels, the so-called happy hormone. As many antihistamines make a person drowsy, they may also help with sleep problems.
People who have received a fibromyalgia diagnosis commonly experience tight, knotted muscles which refuse to completely relax. Fibromyalgia meds such as muscle relaxants can be prescribed by the doctor, to do exactly as they sound, relax the muscles. The primary benefit is that they provide temporary pain relief and a sedation effect which can help with people with trouble sleeping. Side effects include stomach pain and diarrhea. Common brands include Flexeril, Baclofen, Soma, Zanaflex and Skelaxin.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) usually need to be taken on a daily basis to combat chronic pain. These are both prescribed and available over the counter. Common brands include Feldene, Motrin, Naprosyn and Relafen. Other recently introduced NSAIDS, called COX-2 inhibitors, include Mobic and Celebrex.
Many people with fibromyalgia are prescribed one or more antidepressants. Sometimes doctors prescribe two antidepressants for maximum effect. The most common brands include Elavil, Desyrel, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. In addition, a more recent addition to the drug market, Cymbalta, helps to increase serotonin levels, which improves both mood and pain relief. Many fibromyalgia patients who are prescribed antidepressants are not suffering from depression, but rather find benefit in pain relief.
A lack of sleep can worsen chronic pain, and chronic pain can prompt further sleep deprivation. Sometimes the only way to break this vicious cycle is through the use of prescription sleep medications. Common drugs include Lunesta, Sonata and Rozarem.
A mild massage can be a wonderful treat for sore tender points. Massage can stimulate the production of endorphins, the natural pain relief chemicals. A study reported in the 1999 issue of the European Journal of Pain revealed that people who received 15 massages over a period of 10 weeks experienced significant pain relief.
A chiropractor is trained at manipulating muscles and bones to bring about pain relief. Many of the techniques learned can be practiced at home. Chiropractors operate in most states and many health insurance companies cover at least partial repayment of their fees.
Some fibromyalgia patients experience no benefit from acupuncture, others swear by it. The careful insertion of acupuncture needles at specific points of the body are said to help improved energy flows. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly two million Americans use acupuncture as a therapy every year.
Botox injections provide pain relief and are a relatively new option for fibromyalgia patients. When it works, Botox induced pain relief may last a few weeks to a few months. Botox has not yet been approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia, but may be in the future. However it remains an expensive option with one treatment costing on average $1,000. For more, see: Can Botox be used to treat fibromyalgia?
Other Treatments Include:
1. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
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