How Does Physical Therapy Help Fibromyalgia?
Physical therapy can help relieve fibromyalgia pain and stiffness. Regular visits to a licensed physical therapist can increase confidence with exercise, help relax tense muscles, and teach you more about your body and movement. In addition, physical therapy helps with ‘new’ muscle memory and neuroendocrine changes in a positive way to help you muscles recover.
Your physical therapist will show you the proper way to stretch painful muscles to get optimal relief. In addition, using hydrotherapy (moist heat or ice packs) along with physical therapy may ease pain even more.
Physical therapy can enable you to regain control of your illness. That’s because you can focus on lifestyle changes rather than on the chronic dysfunction. Proper posture, which your physical therapist will help you with, allows efficient muscle function. That way, you can avoid undue fatigue and pain.
For in depth information, see WebMD's Fibromyalgia and Physical Therapy.
Which Drugs Treat Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
According to guidelines from the American Pain Society, antidepressants are recommended as the initial drugs to treat fibromyalgia symptoms. These medications can affect multiple symptoms -- pain, fatigue, depressed mood, and sleep disturbances.
According to the guidelines, older tricyclic antidepressants and newer antidepressants can provide effective symptom relief. They won’t, though, eliminate all the pain.
The anticonvulsant drug, Lyrica, has been approved by the FDA for fibromyalgia. Lyrica reduces pain and improves daily function for some people. The drug's most common side effects include mild to moderate dizziness and sleepiness. Lyrica can also cause swelling and weight gain. The FDA advises patients to talk to their doctor about whether the use of Lyrica may impair their ability to drive. Other anticonvulsants are sometimes used to treat fibromyalgia.
Cymbalta, an antidepressant, is another drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Cymbalta is an antidepressant that belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Besides fibromyalgia and depression, Cymbalta is also approved to treat generalized anxiety disorder and diabetic nerve pain in adults. Cymbalta’s most common side effects include nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. It can also cause insomnia and dizziness.
The FDA has also approved Savella for treating fibromyalgia. Savella -- like Cymbalta -- is in the class of drugs known as SNRIs. But while it acts in the body the same way certain antidepressants do, Savella is not used to treat depression. When used to treat fibromyalgia, Savella has been shown to reduce pain, improve physical function, and bring about overall fibromyalgia improvement for some people. The most common side effect of Savella is nausea. Other side effects include headache, constipation, dizziness, and insomnia.
Medications that increase restful sleep may help treat fibromyalgia symptoms. These drugs include low doses of antidepressant medication such as amitriptyline taken before bedtime. Other kinds of sleeping pills are not very helpful for people who have fibromyalgia.