Fibromyalgia Is Common, Painful Problem for Millions of Women
Nearly all of the medications used to treat fibromyalgia have side effects and none are 100% effective. "Unfortunately at this point in time there is no one drug available or on the horizon that by itself is a panacea for fibromyalgia," Leventhal says.
Not surprisingly, alternative therapies play a big role in fibromyalgia treatment, with approximately 90% of patients in one survey reporting that they use some type of alternative therapy, particularly dietary modification, chiropractic, or massage therapy. In studies, exercise has been shown to decrease overall pain in some patients. Also, biofeedback (controlling unconscious or involuntary bodily functions through thought processes) has been shown to decrease the number of tender spots as well as the intensity of the pain. Some patients also have reported success with hypnosis and acupuncture, all of which seem to have some role in helping patients deal with chronic pain.
"Relaxation, massage, biofeedback, yoga -- a lot of things tried sequentially and in combination with medicinal therapies are very helpful to people," Leventhal tells WebMD. "It also gives the patient some control over the management of their care." He encourages patients to learn all they can about fibromyalgia because the more they know, the better equipped they are to deal with the ups and downs of living with a chronic condition. However, he also stresses that despite having chronic pain, most patients with fibromyalgia do not end up disabled or in wheelchairs.