...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!
In general, treatment for fibromyalgia includes both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.
. . . Medications
Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices in fibromyalgia treatment include:
Analgesics Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may ease the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. However, its effectiveness varies. Tramadol (Ultram) is a prescription pain reliever that may be taken with or without acetaminophen. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen sodium (Anaprox, Aleve) — in conjunction with other medications. NSAIDs haven't proved to be effective in managing the pain in fibromyalgia when taken by themselves.
Antidepressants Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor) or doxepin (Sinequan) to help promote sleep. Fluoxetine (Prozac) in combination with amitriptyline has also been found effective. Sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) may help if you're experiencing depression.
Some evidence exists for a newer class of antidepressants known as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or dual uptake inhibitors, which regulate two brain chemicals that may transmit pain signals. Studies have found that duloxetine (Cymbalta) may help control pain better than placebo in people with fibromyalgia. Small trials of venlafaxine (Effexor) suggest the same, though more study is needed to confirm these findings.
Muscle relaxants Taking the medication cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) at bedtime may help treat muscle pain and spasms. Muscle relaxants are generally limited to short-term use.
Pregabalin (Lyrica) Pregabalin may reduce pain and improve function in people with fibromyalgia. Pregabalin, an anti-seizure medication that's also used to treat some types of pain, is the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia. Studies show pregabalin reduced signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia in some people. In one study, about half of the participants taking the highest doses of the drug reported at least a 30 percent improvement. Side effects of pregabalin include dizziness, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, weight gain, dry mouth, and swelling in the hands and feet.
Prescription sleeping pills for fibromyalgia treatment, such as zolpidem (Ambien), may provide short-term benefits for some people with fibromyalgia, but doctors usually advise against long-term use of these drugs. These medications tend to work for only a short time, after which your body becomes resistant to their effects. Ultimately, using sleeping pills tends to create even more sleeping problems in many people.
Benzodiazepines may help relax muscles and promote sleep, but doctors often avoid these drugs in treating fibromyalgia. Benzodiazepines can become habit-forming, and they haven't been shown to provide long-term benefits.
Doctors don't usually recommend narcotics for treating fibromyalgia because of the potential for dependence and addiction. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, haven't been shown to be effective in treating fibromyalgia.
.....~ Cognitive behavior therapy ~
Cognitive behavior therapy in fibromyalgia treatment seeks to strengthen your belief in your abilities and teaches you methods for dealing with stressful situations. Therapy is provided through individual counseling, classes, and with tapes, CDs or DVDs, and may help you manage your fibromyalgia.
..... ~ Treatment programs ~
Programs in fibromyalgia treatment that combine a variety of treatments may be effective in improving your symptoms, including relieving pain. These interdisciplinary programs can combine relaxation techniques, biofeedback and receiving information about chronic pain. There isn't one combination that works best for everybody. Your doctor can create a program based on what works best for you.
Fibromyalgia Treatment . . . WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Self-care is critical in the management of fibromyalgia.
Reduce stress Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. That may mean learning how to say no without guilt. But try not to change your routine completely. People who quit work or drop all activity tend to do worse than those who remain active. Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.
Get enough sleep Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.
Exercise regularly At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it regularly often decreases symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.
Pace yourself Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have more bad days.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake. Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.
Fibromyalgia Treatment . . . ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES:
Complementary and alternative therapies for pain and stress management aren't new. Some, such as meditation and yoga, have been practiced for thousands of years. But their use has become more popular in recent years, especially with people who have chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia.
Several of these treatments do appear to safely relieve stress and reduce pain, and some are gaining acceptance in mainstream medicine. But many practices remain unproved because they haven't been adequately studied. Some of the more common complementary and alternative treatments promoted for pain management include:
Acupuncture Acupuncture is a Chinese medical system based on restoring normal balance of life forces by inserting very fine needles through the skin to various depths. According to Western theories of acupuncture, the needles cause changes in blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. In a 2006 Mayo Clinic study, acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Research on the benefits of acupressure — a similar practice that uses finger pressure on the skin rather than needles — is inconclusive.
Chiropractic care This treatment is based on the philosophy that restricted movement in the spine may lead to pain and reduced function. Spinal adjustment is one form of therapy chiropractors use to treat restricted spinal mobility. The goal is to restore spinal movement and, as a result, improve function and decrease pain. Chiropractors manipulate the spine from different positions using varying degrees of force. Manipulation doesn't need to be forceful to be effective. Chiropractors may also use massage and stretching to relax muscles that are shortened or in spasm. Because manipulation has risks, always go to properly trained and licensed practitioners when considering this for fibromyalgia treatment.
Massage therapy This is one of the oldest methods of health care still in practice. It involves use of different manipulative techniques to move your body's muscles and soft tissues. The therapy aims to improve blood circulation in the muscle, increasing the flow of nutrients and eliminating waste products. Massage can reduce your heart rate, relax your muscles, improve range of motion in your joints and increase production of your body's natural painkillers. It often helps relieve stress and anxiety. Although massage is almost always safe, avoid it if you have open sores, acute inflammation or circulatory problems.
Osteopathy Doctors of osteopathy go through rigorous and lengthy training in academic and clinical settings, equivalent to medical doctors. They're licensed to perform many of the same therapies and procedures as conventional doctors. One area where osteopathy differs from conventional medicine — but is similar to chiropractic medicine — is in the use of manipulation to address joint and spinal problems.
Atlas Correction New Breakthrough for Fibromyalgia Sufferers. No drugs or surgery are involved. This complex, little known type of health care that involves only the correction of the Atlas in the neck. It can restore proper function of the brain stem and nerves of your entire body. And that means healing. It feels like a light touch, or a soft massage at the side of the neck as the Atlas is moved precisely back into its correct position. "The NUCCA Correction involves NO twisting, popping, or cracking of any kind and is safe for all ages." It is completely underwhelming. Patients are often surprised how anti-climactic it is until, over a period of time, they feel their bodies healing. The procedure cures nothing. It simply restores body balance and proper flow so that organs, limbs and tissues can resume normal functioning. Your body is designed to be free of pain. Feeling good is the normal state. This is so obvious when you think about it... but did you realize your body consists of three parts? Your head, your "Atlas" bone, and the rest of your body. In recent years, specialized NUCCA Upper Cervical Doctors have developed a way to safely align just this Atlas bone, clearing the pathway that your body uses to transfer all of the nerve communication information between your brain and your body. Not only does this bone protect your brainstem right at this critical point, it balances your head on your spine... And just like a chain, this Atlas bone controls the alignment of the rest of the bones in your back balancing your legs, hips, and your entire body. Call Houston Spinal Care
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