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Understanding Fibromyalgia -- Treatment

Lifestyle Choices for Fibromyalgia continued...

Better-quality sleep may also help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Low-dose tricyclic antidepressants help relieve sleep problems and pain in many people with fibromyalgia. Also, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day; some people notice that symptoms get worse when they stay up just an hour or two later than usual.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine. These disrupt deep, restorative sleep, and may aggravate symptoms.

Relaxation techniques can help relieve muscle tension and reduce stress. Evaluating the causes of stress and learning new ways to cope may also lessen symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that may be helpful in learning to cope with stress by analyzing a person's individual causes of stress.

Drugs for Fibromyalgia

Tricyclic antidepressants are often the first drugs used to treat fibromyalgia. These work by affecting the chemical balance in the brain. They help with the pain and sleep problems of fibromyalgia but are not usually given at high enough doses to treat depression.

If the tricyclic antidepressants don't work or if their side effects are intolerable, you doctor may prescribe one of three other drugs approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia: pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella). Lyrica is an anti-epileptic drug that's also used for certain types of nerve pain. Both Cymbalta and Savella are antidepressants in the class of drugs known as selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Other medications are used to treat the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen, and aspirin) or other pain medication (such as Ultram) may help relieve muscle pain. For a particularly tender area, your health care provider may inject a local anesthetic to provide relief that typically lasts about two to three months. 

Home Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Applying heat or cold packs to painful areas may relieve fibromyalgia symptoms temporarily. Staying warm and improving your posture may also help. Reducing stress may reduce symptoms and may even eliminate them in mild cases. Pace yourself with work, household chores, and social activities -- don't take on too much. This doesn't mean avoiding activity. In fact, a regimen of exercise and stretching can keep symptoms under control.

Take a proactive role in learning about fibromyalgia to help control it and be vigilant about following your treatment plan. Emotional support is very important, too. Living with fibromyalgia may be difficult if your family, friends, or employer do not understand the condition. Seek out supportive family, friends, clergy, support groups, or a mental health counselor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 08, 2015
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