Treatments/Help

Introduction

Every person with fibromyalgia will experience it differently, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and there is support available to help you manage your condition. Read this Treatments and Help page for information about medication and other ways to cope with pain, diet for fibromyalgia, exercise for fibromyalgia and products to help sufferers with fibromyalgia. It is so difficult to discuss how fibromyalgia will affect a person’s daily life, because the condition affects everybody so differently. Some people feel that their fibromyalgia goes through stages where it flares up and then is in remission – the flare ups may last for varying lengths of time. In between these times they may feel fit and able to do lots of normal things, enjoy hobbies and activities, work, do chores, and so on.

Other people experience fibromyalgia symptoms constantly and find that it affects their daily life more severely. Some people may have mobility problems due to dizziness or balance issues or find chores and personal care exhausting.

Rachel Lowe’s Story

Please click on this link and watch the video of how Rachel cope’s with Fibromyalgia and the way she helps deal with her condition

Treatments

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia treatments usually focus on trying medications designed to reduce pain or improve mood, as well as therapeutic treatments to ease pain and enhance wellbeing.

Here we look at the drug treatments for fibromyalgia that some people use to help manage symptoms and why they are not always effective. We also explore physical therapies, psychological support and complementary therapies that may be of interest.

Drug Treatment

Many people take painkillers for their fibromyalgia symptoms, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. Some people find that these helps relieve some of their pain, however, they do not work for everybody. Similarly, pain relieving gels that are applied to the skin do not always help, but some people find some temporary relief using these.

Some people are prescribed drugs that help with nerve pain, such as Pregabalin, which may help.

Others find that they have symptoms of low mood, anxiety or depression as a result of living with chronic pain. Some people choose to take antidepressant drugs to help relieve these symptoms, such as:

  • Citalopram – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication used to treat anxiety, depression and other low mood disorders
  • Amitriptyline – a drug used to treat fibromyalgia and arthritic conditions, which helps relax muscles
  • Duloxetine – a type of serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) medication used to treat depression and other mental health disorders, which can also help reduce pain in some medical conditions
  • Pregabalin – a drug used to treat anxiety, epilepsy and nerve pain, which is sometimes given to people with fibromyalgia

Physical Therapies

This sort of fibromyalgia treatment may include physiotherapy and or occupational therapy.

A physiotherapist may be able to help a person with fibromyalgia to develop a program of exercise to increase their activity levels gradually. Exercise is essential for anyone living with this condition, even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing. Exercise will keep muscles strong, may help improve sleep, and can be excellent for mental health.

A physiotherapist may also be able to advise on posture and mobility issues if your condition is affecting how you get around. Your GP may be able to refer you to a physiotherapy service.

Occupational therapist are trained to support people with health conditions by finding ways of adapting everyday tasks in all areas of their life, to ensure they can live as independently as possible. If you are finding some aspects of daily living difficult, speak to your local social services department to find out if you are eligible for an Occupational Therapy assessment.

Some people find that using a TENS machine helps relive their pain – a battery operated device available from many retailers, which sends an electric current into the body via electrodes that are attached with sticky pads.

Psychological Support

It is difficult to live with chronic pain. Similarly, the fatigue caused by fibromyalgia may affect daily life and mood. If you are finding it difficult to manage your fibromyalgia and are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anger, anxiety or stress, you may wish to seek support such as counselling or psychotherapy. There are many sources of psychological support and your GP may be able to refer you to a local service. Alternatively, if you wish to seek help privately, you may wish to find a local therapist or contact the mental health charity Mind.

Some people find it difficult to relax when they have chronic pain, and report that mindfulness, a type of meditation, helps them to find a sense of wellbeing amidst their symptoms.

There are millions of people in the UK living with chronic pain, and there are pain management classes, techniques, workshops and programs that may be available to you. You may also like to explore the Alexander Technique, a program that trains people to improve their posture and movements in order to relieve pain and stress.

Complementary Therapies

Some people find that they achieve a sense of wellbeing and relaxation through complementary therapies such as:

  • Acupuncture – involves insertion of very thin needles into the skin to stimulate nerve endings and release endorphins into the body, for natural pain relief.
  • Massage – involves massage of the feet, concentrating on certain parts of the foot that are thought to be linked to other areas in the body i.e. massage of the big toe may relieve headaches.
  • Reiki – a type of healing that involves a practitioner placing their hands on the body to relieve stress and pain, with the belief that this creates a flow of healing energy.
  • Homeopathy – involves a practitioner prescribing diluted natural remedies to cure conditions.
  • Aromatherapy – can be undertaken at home and self-taught; this therapy involves using highly concentrated essential oils in massage or as an inhalant, to bring about relaxation and stress relief.

There is little evidence to show that some of these therapies are effective, particularly homeopathy which has been largely disproven to work. However, some people with fibromyalgia find that treatments such as these do work for them in some way. If you are considering embarking on any complementary therapies, you should discuss this with your GP in the first instance.

Did you know…Some people find pain relieving drugs, complementary therapies and exercise help improve their quality of life living with fibromyalgia.

If you are living with fibromyalgia or know someone who is, this page may help you understand how the condition affects daily life. If you are newly diagnosed, you may be wondering how fibromyalgia will impact your lifestyle. Some people can live independently, look after themselves or their loved ones, work and do lots of the activities they enjoy. However, others do find that their fibromyalgia symptoms cause challenges and significant changes to their daily routine, the amount of activity they can do each day, and their sense of wellbeing.

Aids to Help Fibromyalgia Sufferers

Below we suggest some fibromyalgia aids that may help with a variety of daily activities, which may have become difficult due to fibromyalgia symptoms. Daily living aids are designed to make tasks such as chores, personal care and mobility easier. This is a list of products that help with certain areas of daily life.

  • Resting when doing tasks around the home:
  • Perching stool
  • Reaching objects around the home:
  • Combi-Graber
  • Getting around if you are unable to walk far:
  • Transit chair
  • Carrying things safely around the home:
  • Walking trolley
  • Getting around if you have balance problems, fatigue or pain:
  • Walking stick
  • Rollator
  • Sitting down and standing up from chairs:
  • Rise recline chairs
  • Getting in and out of the bath:
  • Bath lift
  • Bath step
  • Bathroom rail
  • Getting on and off the toilet:
  • Mowbray Lite toilet frame and seat
  • Traditional commode
  • Folding commode
  • Avoiding falls around the home:
  • Grab rail
  • Sitting down whilst showering:
  • Shower stool
  • Helping to remember things:
  • Memory aid pendant
  • Gentle exercise:
  • Pedal exerciser
  • Resistance band

If you are unsure what products for fibromyalgia may help suit your needs, please consult your GP or an Occupational Therapist for further advice, they will be able to talk to you about your needs and will try to find suitable fibromyalgia aids to help you.

Self-Care

It is important to look after yourself if you have received a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Here are some top tips for self-care:

  • Take time to relax
  • Develop a good bedtime routine to aid sleep
  • Avoid over use of screens i.e. phones and tablets (especially before bed time)
  • Talk about how you feel, either with family, friends, experts or other people with fibromyalgia – this can help relieve some of the stress that may come with having a long-term condition
  • Meditate
  • Consider complementary therapies
  • Live healthily e.g. stop smoking, exercise and eat well
  • Make use of the support services available to you e.g. ask for referrals to physiotherapy or occupational therapy
  • Seek medical advice and support if you are struggling to manage your symptoms
  • Ask for help when you need it e.g. with chores, childcare, etc.

Exercise for Fibromyalgia

If you are given a fibromyalgia diagnosis, you are likely to be advised to undertake exercise. You may feel as though this just is not possible – fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain and fatigue may lead you to feeling unable to move around, let alone exercise. However, avoiding exercise may create a vicious cycle, causing more fatigue and pain due to being inactive.

Being as active as you can will help avoid further problems developing, for example, weak or wasted muscles and arthritis or joint problems. Exercise will help keep your heart healthy and will improve your overall mood by releasing feel good endorphins. People who undertake exercise do report that their fibromyalgia symptoms are more manageable, less severe and that they sleep better as a result. Fibromyalgia exercises could include walking, cycling, swimming, gentle weight lifting, toning with resistance bands, or anything that can be started off at a low pace and gradually built up as the body gets stronger and abler.

Professional advice suggests you build up your activity levels gradually, to avoid over-exerting yourself or causing additional pain from overworked muscles. Contact your GP to find out if you can be referred to the NHS Physiotherapy Service.

Fibromyalgia Diet

Healthy eating for fibromyalgia patients is important to help maintain a healthy weight and general good health. Eating the wrong types of foods, e.g. too much sugar, fat, salt and so on, can lead to lower immunity and digestive problems, which cause further discomfort and illness in the body.

Some people believe that certain foods and drinks trigger their fibromyalgia, such as aspartame (a sweetener), caffeine, sugar, dairy and MSG (a flavor enhancer found in soy sauce, savory snacks, etc.). There is little evidence currently to support that these foods do influence the condition, but if you feel that consuming certain things negatively affects you, speak to your GP for advice.

Some people choose to take fibromyalgia supplements such as vitamin D, fish oil and magnesium, but there is little evidence to suggest these influence symptoms. If you are considering taking any supplements for fibromyalgia, talk to your GP first.

Fibromyalgia and Employment

You may be wondering; san I still work with fibromyalgia? There is no definitive answer to this question, because each person with the condition experiences it differently. Lots of people with fibromyalgia do go to work or are able to continue the work they have always done, whilst others are not able to work.

This may influence your sense of identity and wellbeing and have lots of implications on your finances. If this is the case, it may be beneficial to talk to a charity that specializes in supporting people who live with chronic pain, such as Pain Concern.

If you are employed and have fibromyalgia, it may be beneficial to share your diagnosis with your employers. You may need time off, additional breaks, or other adjustments for when your fibromyalgia symptoms are difficult to deal with.

Myofascial Syndrome
Ukfibromyalgia.com have a very useful web-site which covers in more detail the subject ‘ Do you have fibromyalgia or myofascial syndrome’. In this they explain the differences in fibromyalgia and myofascial syndrome.
They report that 72% of fibromyalgia sufferers also have the clinical features of myofascial pain. As the clinical features are different it is no wonder that those of us with both have difficulty explaining our pain to our doctor. Response to drugs and therapies is different for these syndromes.
Myofascial Syndrome Fibromyalgia
Clinical Features – Clinical Features
Local or regional pain – Widespread general pain
Focal tenderness – Widespread tenderness
Muscles feel tense ( taut ) – Muscles feel soft & doughy
Restricted range of movement – Hypermobile
Ukfibromyalgia.com give an insight into why conventional massage, manipulation and acupuncture may only offer temporary relief and may aggravate the condition, if you have myofascial syndrome as well as fibromyalgia.

Our Health
Managing Pain
Chronic Pain
Fibromyalgia sufferers have chronic pain. Chronic refers to the duration of the pain and not to the severity.
Last year Public Health England found that long term prescribing of opiods for chronic pain was widespread for chronic ( non cancer pain ). For most people they are ineffective when used long term.
After a matter of weeks, opioids start to lose their efficacy, so patients need increasing doses to achieve the same pain relief. The drugs also have significant unpleasant side effects such as constipation, inability to sleep, loss of concentration and skin infections to name a few.
Most fibromyalgia sufferers also try drugs such as amitriptaline , pregabalin and gabapentin. Research has shown that Gabapentin only helps 12% of fibromyalgia patients. These drugs have a big range of side effects which a number of patients cannot cope with.
Pain Management
In view of the latest reports on the drugs prescribed for fibromyalgia the pain management clinics are moving to advising patients to learn ‘self management skills instead of taking drugs’. We are being advised to pace ourselves, take up mindfulness, join a support group, try hydrotherapy etc.
This is no quick fix and often sufferers feel abandoned, especially as what one person finds helpful does not work for another. This leaves the person often very confused, increasing feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.
Fibromyalgia Friends Together
As your local support group we want to help you. Our monthly meetings help you to understand what others find helps them. The Shuttlewood Clarke Foundation, where we hold our meetings, allow you to access a number of different therapies at reasonable costs.
Seeing Your Doctor
Fibromyalgia sufferers look to their GP for help. We often feel that we are not listened to or understood. The problem often is with ourselves as we do not know how to explain the pain we are suffering. If we suffer with other issues such as arthritis, MS, lupus etc this makes it even harder. It is often very difficult for us to distinguish between the different problems and the arising pain, so how can we give a full picture to our GP.
Fibromyalgia has so many other symptoms, you may not suffer with them all, nor will another sufferer, in other words none of us will be suffering in exactly the same way as someone else. Your doctor will not know how you are being affected unless you present him/her with a full picture.
We suggest that you could try completing the template on this web site before you see your Gp and give it to them, we feel it will help you explain your pain better. You could also use it to evaluate the benefit of any new therapy you try.
We suggest that you read on this web site What Fibromyalgia Feels Like and Factors That Aggravate Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Syndrome before completing the template.

Click on the images below to take you to another page ready for printing off

 

Fibromyalgia Sufferers Given Hope That A Common Drug ‘Eradicates Pain’

Sufferers of fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain have been given hope following a ground-breaking new health study into how their symptoms could be treated successfully.

Researchers have found that the agonising condition may be caused by insulin resistance, and it could be treated using a common drug taken for diabetes. Scientists hope their findings could lead to a major change in how chronic pain is treated and potentially save billions in painkillers.

Revealing their findings scientists from the University of Texas said they found that fibromyalgia sufferers had higher levels of blood sugar than the levels in normal people.

The fibromyalgia patients in the study had blood sugar levels which would be currently considered in the normal range. The study however looked at the levels normal for the patients age and this highlighted the differences between the patients and the control subjects.

Neurology professor Dr Miguel Pappolla said that previous studies had overlooked the connection between fibromyalgia and insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.

The study treated the patients with metformin a drug used to combat insulin resistance in diabetes.

All patients experienced reduced pain.

The NHS has not allowed metformin for fibromyalgia.

Remember – you are not alone!

Healthy Living

It is hard for a Fibromyalgia sufferer to lead a health lift style. We are not able to exercise in the same way as a person who has no issues. A lot of our energy and thoughts must go into learning our limitations and managing to work within them. How many of us when we are feeling better do more than we should causing a crash which takes us such along time to recover from.

It is easy to fall into depression and eat unhealth foods to comfort eat. Many of us have the associated condition irritable bowel syndrome. Part of dealing with this painful condition is gaining an understanding of what irritates your own bowels. We have included information about foods that harm, which you may wish to consider if they make your IBS/Fibromyalgia worse.

In this section we want to share latest news about foods, vitamins and other supplements which may benefit us or may harm us and make our condition worse.

Cocoa

It has been reported in the Daily Mail on the 15/02/2020 that cocoa may have improved blood flow to calves and improved muscle function. A fifth of people over 60 in the UK have some degree of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is a narrowing of the arteries that reduces blood flow to the legs. The symptoms often strike when walking and include pain, tightness, cramping and weakness.

A study has been undertaken at Northwest University in Chicago. The study author Professor Mary McDermott said if our results are confirmed in trial, these suggest that cocoa, a relatively inexpensive, safe and accessible product, could potentially produce significant improvements in calf muscle health, blood flow and walking performance for PAD patients.

The participants were randomly assigned to drink either a mug of cocoa or a placebo powder three times daily for six months. The cocoa was unsweetened and contained 15 grams of cocoa and 75mgs of epicatechin.

This research is just the latest of reports of the benefits of cocoa which include improving brain function, improving skin condition, improving chronic pain conditions, mood enhancer, a good source of minerals and vitamins, etc. As there is such a lot about the effect of cocoa, and a number of us will be on prescribed drugs we would advise that anyone discuss taking cocoa with your GP for advice on cocoa interaction with your drugs.

Disclaimer

All the content within these pages has been sourced through a variety of online medical and alternative therapy information sources, and at the time of publishing we believe them to be true statements.