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Living With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue

Lifestyle changes and the right medications can help ease fatigue and restless sleep from fibromyalgia.

Living With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue continued...

Exercise. Getting regular exercise is also important, Rose says. "Any time you have pain, insomnia, and fatigue, I always say exercise. Exercise has a profound effect on mood, weight, and fatigue. Water exercise is easier on joints, so it's a lot more tolerable for fibromyalgia patients."

Although physical therapy and exercise may be difficult, the short-term pain is a trade-off, she explains. "Even though you feel a lot of pain and discomfort, pushing yourself is important. Exercise helps reduce stress, and that helps sleep and reduces fatigue."

Pace yourself. Moderation is important if you have fibromyalgia, says Grabois. "When people feel good, then they tend to do too much -- then pay the price later. Others give up on exercise altogether, because they don't sleep well, feel fatigued, and exercise makes the fatigue worse."

Start with very low intensity exercise and build up very slowly, he advises. "I'm not saying run around the block three times. I'm saying walk around the block one time -- and do it on a regular basis, seven days a week."

With daily activities, it's good to set up a scheduled routine. Be careful about overdoing it, so you don't deplete your extra energy. Learning moderation is a skill that can help you get things done despite discomfort and fatigue.

Try medications. Antidepressants and other medications can help greatly in pain control, says Rose. "If your body is worn down, and you're in pain, it's something to consider. I tell people, you can always quit taking it. We can see if it helps."Anti-inflammatories and analgesics can also help.

The FDA has approved three drugs to treat fibromyalgia: Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella. Lyrica is an anti-epileptic drug. Cymbalta -- an antidepressant -- is in the category of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Savella is also an SNRI.

Consider complementary therapies. Alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture have helped some people living with fibromyalgia. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying natural or complementary therapies, Rose advises.

Volunteer work, hobbies, and a social support network also help make it easier living with fibromyalgia. So does a sense of humor.

"Anything you do to make your quality of life better -- to give you more happiness -- you can't lose," Rose tells WebMD. "Do what brings you happiness, and chances are it will help you refocus, get your focus away from the pain."

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Reviewed on December 18, 2009

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