About five million people suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome that affects the nerves. Although both men and women can develop fibromyalgia, women are significantly more likely to have it.
Sadly, there isn’t a test that can specifically diagnose fibromyalgia. Doctors usually rely on a grouping of specific symptoms, such as pain throughout the entire body, fatigue, and poor sleep to draw a conclusion. Diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia is made even more difficult because symptoms can come and go at any time.
To find fibromyalgia treatment options that work for you, contact the UPMC Pain Medicine Program.
Drug-Free Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia
There are plenty of pain relief options for people with fibromyalgia that don’t involve prescription medicines. The following treatments have proven useful in relieving some of the pain caused by fibromyalgia:
- Acupuncture: Having a series of needles placed into your skin may not be for the faint of heart. But this treatment has been used increasingly for fibromyalgia pain relief, either in conjunction with other therapies or by itself. In fact, a study by the Compmed Health Institute in Australia revealed that acupuncture improved pain and stiffness in fibromyalgia sufferers.
- Exercise: Though the thought of working out when you’re in pain seems daunting, exercise can actually help with fibromyalgia symptoms. A study by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada found that being active could help to improve movement and overall quality of life. Start with slow, low-impact activities to help reduce your chances of a flare-up.
- Yoga: Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University examined 53 women over an eight-week period and found that focused breathing, meditation, and some poses can provide fibromyalgia pain relief.
- Essential oils: Oils aren’t used only for massage. In fact, they have been used for centuries to treat pain. A study by the Federal University of Sergipe in Brazil found that basil oil had an analgesic effect on mice with chronic muscle pain, leading researchers to suggest it as a potential method for relieving fibromyalgia pain.
- Melatonin: People who suffer from fibromyalgia have been found to have low levels of melatonin, a hormone released when it’s time to sleep. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that taking melatonin might help to reduce pain and improve sleep for some fibromyalgia sufferers.
Medicines for Fibromyalgia
For some people, these drug-free may not be enough to relieve pain. In such cases, a doctor might recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever or a prescription antidepressant.
- Pain relievers: Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, available at pharmacies and grocery stores, can provide some pain relief. While doctors typically don’t prescribe narcotic pain relievers for fibromyalgia, they may prescribe other types of pain medicine.
- Antidepressants: Medicines like pregabalin, duloxetine, and milnacipran can help to reduce pain because of their effects on neurotransmitters.
Although there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, many people see their pain diminish over time with the right treatment. To find fibromyalgia treatment options that work for you, contact the UPMC Pain Medicine Program.