A range of medications and alternative treatments are available to help relieve pain and other fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body.
It can also be accompanied by fatigue and tiredness.
There’s no known cure for fibromyalgia, but a range of medications, alternative treatments, and other therapies are often effective at relieving symptoms and enhancing your overall quality of life.
Some people with fibromyalgia report improved outcomes when they make certain dietary changes.
According to the National Fibromyalgia Research Association, limiting your consumption of caffeine, refined sugar, fried foods, red meat, processed foods, and alcohol may reduce your symptoms.
Experts suggest instead consuming foods like salmon, walnuts, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Pay attention to how you feel after eating different foods. Avoid any food that seems to worsen your symptoms.
You should also drink plenty of water, and you may want to take a vitamin supplement to ensure you’re getting enough necessary nutrients.
Medications for Fibromyalgia
Medications can reduce the severity of symptoms in some people with fibromyalgia.
There are three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia:
Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Savella (milnacipran), which work by changing certain brain chemicals that control pain
Lyrica (pregabalin), which works by blocking the activity of nerve cells that play a role in pain transmission
Other fibromyalgia medications are currently in development and may receive FDA approval soon.
Doctors can also prescribe drugs off-label (for uses other than what they’re approved for) to treat fibromyalgia.
Antidepressants and anti-seizure medicines are often used this way.
Many people with fibromyalgia take over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain medicines to ease their discomfort.
Injections of lidocaine into a person’s trigger points (tender spots that are painful when pressed) may also help relieve pain.
Some people use alternative therapies to treat fibromyalgia. These may include:
Tai chi (an ancient Chinese practice involving slow, gentle movements)
Movement therapies, such as Pilates and the Feldenkrais Method
Cognitive behavioral therapy (therapy that focuses on how thoughts and behaviors can affect symptoms)
While many people say these therapies help them personally, more studies are needed to confirm their effectiveness.
Cost of Fibromyalgia Care
Doctor’s visits and treatments for fibromyalgia can be expensive.
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, a 2007 study found that 34 percent of people with fibromyalgia spend between $100 and $1,000 per month out-of-pocket to see a healthcare professional.
The largest components of fibromyalgia patient costs are office and emergency room visits, tests and procedures, and hospitalizations, according to a study in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Coping With Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder, which means you’ll probably have it for a long time — possibly even for the rest of your life.Certain lifestyle changes may help you cope with the condition and improve your quality of life. These include:
Getting enough sleep: Adequate sleep can help you combat the fatigue that often accompanies fibromyalgia.
Try going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day.
Reducing stress: Try to avoid or limit stress in your daily routine. Take time to relax each day.
Exercising: At first, exercise may be painful, but regular physical activity can improve your symptoms.
You may want to try walking, biking, swimming, or water aerobics. Your doctor can help you develop an exercise regimen.
Getting a massage: A study found that people with fibromyalgia who underwent massage and myofascial therapy for 90 minutes a week had improvements in pain after 20 weeks of treatment.
Losing weight: A study from the Mayo Clinic found that people with a higher BMI, or body mass index — a measure of body fat based on height and weight — tended to have more fibromyalgia-related symptoms than those who weighed less.
Eating well: Consume healthy, whole foods. Limit any foods that seem to worsen your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about creating a healthy meal plan.
Stop smoking: Research indicates that fibromyalgia patients who smoke may experience more severe pain than nonsmokers, so they may also have more bad days than those who do not use tobacco.
Some people with fibromyalgia report a reduction in symptoms after adopting lifestyle changes.
Fibromyalgia Support Groups
Many cities around the United States have fibromyalgia support groups.
These groups help provide information about the condition and let you connect with other people who are dealing with the same illness.
Organizations such as the American Chronic Pain Association and the National Fibromyalgia Association can help you get in touch with other people who have fibromyalgia.
Questions and Answers about Fibromyalgia; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Fibromyalgia; Mayo Clinic.
Picavet HSJ et al. Health related quality of life in multiple musculoskeletal diseases: SF-36 and EQ-5D in the DMC3 study. 2004. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
About Fibromyalgia; National Fibromyalgia Association.
Fibromyalgia; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fibromyalgia; American College of Rheumatology.