Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression, and anxiety.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Treatments for Fibromyalgia

I didn't do a lot of research on the medications available for sufferers of fibromyalgia before I was diagnosed because, frankly, I didn't think that was what was wrong with me and once my rhuematologist confirmed my illness she immediately put me on a pain pill called "Tramadol" or "Ultram"and it has worked fabulously for me.

But I would like to take a moment and mention some of the natural and prescription treatments that are available on the market today. Because fibromyalgia has so many varied symptoms it's difficult for doctors to really know what to prescribe and I am sure they are concerned about over medicating as well as dependency or addiction.

Each person's symptoms vary so each person's medication will vary too. It's not as simple as some illnesses where there is maybe one medication type and several brands of that type.

The most important thing to remember when you are seeking treatment for your fibromyalgia is to take a look at which of your set of symptoms seems to be the worst. For many it's the overall aches and pains, but for others it's the fatigue and depression.
I think I have had fibromyalgia for many years but there were times when I felt fine physically and could get by with some ibuprofen so it didn't really occur to me to pursue any kind of diagnosis. I had the depression, fatigue and insomnia but I thought it was more situational rather than symptoms of a chronic illness.

Here is a list of the 5 categories of treatment that are currently used for patients suffering from fibromyalgia. I am by no means endorsing any of these personally, but I thought it was pertinent information for this blog.

Anti-convulsants-which were designed for seizures have been known to help many sufferers.
One of the most commonly known one is Lyrica. Two new medications being studied are Neurontin and Ativan, each known for changing chemicals in the brain.
Anti-depressants-some of the properties in anti-depressants seem to work very well for many fibro patients and the most commonly known ones are Cymbalta and Effexor, however, last I heard Cymbalta is the only one recognized by the FDA for treating fibromyalgia.
Apparently the changes in the chemicals of the brain that these drugs bring about has a positive affect for many people. My sister-in-law has a severe case of fibromyalgia and this has improved her life considerably.

Pain Relievers: I was told Ultram or Ultracet was called the "Business mans pain pill" because it is non-narcotic and you will not become addicted. I am not certain how true this statement is but I do know that without the use of the Ultram in my life on a regular basis I would be functioning by at least half the level I am now.
Flexerill is a muscle relaxer that can really help a person, especially during sleep, as it does make you feel calm and relaxed. I use this if my pain is flared up at night as the Ultram has a tendency to keep me awake.

The WebMD states "that insomnia is a big problem in people with fibromyalgia. Research shows that frequent disruptions in sleep prevent growth hormone -- the important restorative hormone -- from being produced by the body. Without growth hormone, muscles don't heal and neurotransmitters (like serotonin) are not replenished.
Without deep sleep, the body can't recuperate from the day's stresses. This can overwhelm the body’s systems, creating a great sensitivity to pain."

There are any number of medications including Ambien, Lunesta, and Rozerem prescribed for sleep that if used carefully and on a short term basis can make a huge difference to people with fibromyalgia. So many times during the night you might be experiencing just enough pain to keep you from reaching that REM state of sleep and when you wake up you are just as tired as you went to bed, if not more. Sometimes we don't even know this is going on and are confused as to why we feel so draggy in the morning.

I would wake up feeling great most of the time but around one or two in the afternoon I just had to take a nap or I wouldn't make it through the rest of the day and I am grateful that I was home and allowed to do that.

Combination Medications: I would imagine this is more common for most of us who suffer from fibromyalgia and are aware of it. We recognize the need for better sleep so we might be taking something for that as well as a muscle relaxer or pain pill for the muscle aches. After all, we have lives to live and we can't do it if we are at half capacity.

Lifestyle Change: This is the last and most important treatment for fibromyalgia patients. We must be willing to take a look at what areas of our life could use and overhaul and work towards a better option.

Excercise and stretching is essential to feeling better. The key is to figure out what works for you and what works against you. Don't overdue, but be consistent and I believe you will feel a difference in a short amount of time.

The foods we consume are also a factor in how we feel whether we have an illness or not. Eating healthy, whole foods on a regular basis can also make a huge difference in your mood and well-being.
I will post on some of the foods that are recommended for those with fibromyalgia at a later time.

I believe we have to take an active part in our overall health and pay attention to our bodies. We need to realize that we can't always keep up with everyone else. The sooner we can figure out what does and doesn't work for us the sooner we can start to enjoy life more.


Michele Emrath said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy and learn from your posts. The pain medicines you mentioned are new to me. I am glad to hear there are non-narcotic options! As for exercise, yoga has been extremely helpful, but mentally and physically for me. Even if there is some pain involved, I find myself stretched, refreshed and strengthened afterward.

I look forward to your post on healthy eating. I have been curious if there are specific foods fibro patients should steer toward, or whether we should just eat nutritiously in general.

Do Beautiful Things

Christine Burgess said...

Thank you so much Michele. I am very happy I can take a non narcotic pill but exercise is what really works to keep it from getting too bad.
I should be posting on the foods soon.