How is fibromyalgia treated?
Fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It's important to find a doctor who has
treated others with fibromyalgia. Many family doctors, general internists, or
rheumatologists can treat fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists are doctors who treat
arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints and soft tissues.
Treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your doctor, a
physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers. A pain or
rheumatology clinic can be a good place to get treatment. Treatment for
fibromyalgia may include the following:
- Pain management. Three medicines have been approved by the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia. These are pregabalin (Lyrica),
duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella). Other medications are being
developed and may also receive FDA approval in the future. Your doctor may also
suggest non-narcotic pain relievers, low-dose antidepressants, or other classes
of medications that might help improve certain symptoms.
- Sleep management.
Getting the right amount of sleep at night may help improve your symptoms. Here
are tips for good sleep:
- Keep regular sleep habits. Try to get to bed at the
same time and get up at the same time every day -- even on weekends and
- Avoid caffeine and
alcohol in the late afternoon and evening.
your exercise. Regular daytime exercise can improve nighttime sleep. But avoid
exercising within 3 hours of bedtime, which can be stimulating, keeping you
- Avoid daytime naps. Sleeping in the afternoon can interfere with
nighttime sleep. If you feel you cannot get by without a nap, set an alarm for 1
hour. When it goes off, get up and start moving.
- Reserve your bed for sleeping.
Watching the late news, reading a suspense novel, or working on your laptop in
bed can stimulate you, making it hard to sleep.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet,
- Avoid liquids and spicy meals before bed. Heartburn and late-night
trips to the bathroom do not lead to good sleep.
- Wind down before bed. Avoid
working right up to bedtime. Do relaxing activities, such as listening to soft
music or taking a warm bath, that get you ready to sleep. (A warm bath also may
soothe aching muscles.)
- Psychological support. Living with a chronic condition
can be hard on you. If you have fibromyalgia, find a support group. Counseling
sessions with a trained counselor may improve your understanding of your
- Other treatments. Complementary therapies may help you. Talk to your
physician before trying any alternative treatments. These include:
- Myofascial release therapy
- Water therapy
- Light aerobics
- Applying heat or cold
- Relaxation exercises
- Breathing techniques
- Cognitive therapy
- Nutritional supplements
- Osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation