Fibromyalgia causes pain, soreness, and fatigue. Like arthritis, it affects your joints and can hurt enough that it keeps you from doing daily activities. But it doesn’t damage your joints or muscles.
The FDA has approved three prescription medications to help treat fibromyalgia pain:
Pregabalin (Lyrica) was first used to treat seizures and nerve pain linked to diabetes. It affects nerve cells that help send pain signals. But it can cause side effects like sleepiness, dizziness, blurred vision, and trouble concentrating. It also may lead to weight gain, swelling in your hands and feet, and dry mouth. A small number of people have an allergic reaction to it.
Duloxetine hydrochloride (Cymbalta) is an antidepressant that’s also been used to treat diabetic nerve pain. Its side effects include sleepiness, dry mouth, and sweating, as well as nausea, constipation, and a lack of appetite. In some people, it also can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.
- Milnacipran (Savella) is the first drug designed specifically for fibromyalgia treatment. It affects brain chemicals linked to pain. It can cause things like nausea, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, and sleep trouble for some people. It also may raise your heart rate or blood pressure.
Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen may help ease some of the pain. But doctors don’t recommend opioid painkillers, like oxycodone or hydrocodone, for fibromyalgia. These powerful medications don’t work as well for that condition as they do for other problems, and there’s a chance you might start to depend on them.
While pain and fatigue can make exercise hard, you can begin with something like a little extra walking. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can move on to things like aerobics, yoga, or swimming. Gyms or community centers often have classes that may help get you started.
An occupational therapist may help you find ways to work and do things around the house that are less stressful on your body.
Take Care of Yourself
You can do a few other things to make living with fibromyalgia easier:
- Stress can make your symptoms worse. Better sleep and relaxation techniques can help with that. Try to get 7 to 8 hours each night, and take time to relax every day.
- Massage therapy may relax your muscles, lower your heart rate, and ease stress.
- A support group can help you learn more about your condition and connect with other people who are going through the same thing.
- If you feel sad or anxious, a counselor or therapist may help you deal with those emotions.