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Treating Fibromyalgia Today

Jan 23, 2008
Until a few years ago, fibromyalgia was virtually unheard of. The disease, though quite common, was not widely understood until recently. Fortunately, people who live with fibromyalgia now have several treatment options available to them.

Facts About Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis that primarily affects women. You may know one of the more than ten million Americans who suffer from this painful condition. Most people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women between the ages of 40 and 55.


Fibromyalgia is usually characterized by feelings of widespread pain and intense fatigue. The actual symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to those of other types of arthritis, so it can be difficult for doctors to make a positive diagnosis. At one point, in fact, doctors were not even aware that the condition existed. Fortunately, that has all changed.

The disease is now better known and more clearly understood by patients, doctors and the general public. More and better treatment options are becoming available to help patients deal with this frustrating and often debilitating condition.

Control Over Fibromyalgia

The key to treating fibromyalgia is being able to control the symptoms of the disease. No single treatment works for all fibromyalgia sufferers, because many patients experience unique combinations of symptoms. This inconsistency makes it even more difficult for doctors to properly treat the condition. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the first step toward treatment is to discuss your specific symptoms with your doctor.

* Treating Pain

If you suffer mainly with pain, your doctor's primary focus may be on pain relieving medications and therapies. When your doctor begins a new pain medication treatment, he or she will probably start with the lowest dosage possible. Be patient, as you may have to take part in an extended period of trial and error before you and your doctor can achieve the right level of medication to properly treat your symptoms.

Intense pain or pressure at a specific tender point can sometimes call for cortisone injections. It's a proven method for effectively relieving pain in many fibromyalgia patients.

* Treating Fibromyalgia Inflammation

When inflammation occurs, doctors will often prescribe NSAID medications. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective for some patients, but others have reported no substantial degree of improvement or relief.

* Depression

Many fibromyalgia patients report feelings of depression and anxiety. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, your doctor will probably prescribe some form of anti-depressant medication. The inability to sleep can also compound these feelings of depression, and add to the fatigue that so many fibromyalgia patients report. Doctors may prescribe anti-depressants or sleep aids to help ease the patient into sleep, while increasing the amount of serotonin in the patient's bloodstream.

Your doctor must balance these drugs very carefully, particularly if you're taking both a pain medication and an anti-depressant. It's important that you and your doctor work toward the mutual goal of controlling the symptoms of fibromyalgia with few or no side effects.

If you prefer drug-free treatments for fibromyalgia, you do have a few options. Many patients have found exercise to be effective in reducing the overall feelings of pain and fatigue. Many patients experience substantial relief by using heating pads, shower therapies and water exercise. Heat seems to provide welcome muscle pain relief, so any form of warm water therapy or exercise is recommended for fibromyalgia patients.

Fibromyalgia is not a new disease, but modern medicine has brought about new treatments that can make it more manageable. Speak with your doctor if you feel that your symptoms may indicate the presence of fibromyalgia. Proper diagnosis can make it so much easier to avoid future complications, treat the symptoms and live comfortably with fibromyalgia.
About the Author
Columnist Rosamond Gaven contributes articles to a variety of web sites, on healthy body and home health care themes.
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