Treatment of fibromyalgiaAt the moment, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, there are treatments available to help manage its symptoms. And some simple changes to your lifestyle can help reduce how much the condition affects your daily activities.
There are a number of practical things you can do yourself to help control your symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Take time out to relax your mind and muscles, for example have a massage.
- Don't drink alcohol, tea or coffee late at night, as these could make sleeping difficult.
- Sleep in a soft collar if your neck is uncomfortable. This may improve your sleep.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Try swimming in a heated pool. Heated pool treatment (balneotherapy) can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve your day-to-day functioning. The benefits can last more than six months. If exercising in the pool is too painful, try bathing alone to begin with. This may also improve your symptoms.
A gentle programme of exercises that increase your heart rate and make you feel slightly out of breath can help improve your symptoms. Gentle muscle stretching exercises two or three times a day and a gentle walk can be good ways to start.
Ask your GP or physiotherapist to help you plan an exercise programme to suit your needs.
Cognitive behavioural therapy helps some people with fibromyalgia. This is a talking treatment that can help you understand your thoughts (cognitions) and beliefs about your pain and develop new ways of coping with it (behaviours). Talking to other people who have fibromyalgia can reassure you that you are not alone.
Some people find that complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage can help. Ask your GP to refer you to a qualified practitioner.
Painkillers you would normally take for a headache can help with the muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia. If these don't help, your GP may prescribe stronger painkillers.
Your GP may also prescribe mild antidepressants to control some of your symptoms such as muscle pain, difficulty in sleeping and anxiety. The starting dose will be lower than that usually used for depression. It's best not to take over-the-counter sleeping tablets because they can cause dependence and eventually lose their effect.
Always ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking any medicines and read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.