29 Apr 2019

What is Fibromyalgia & how can it be treated?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness over much of the body. It is a very common condition, affecting up to 5% of the population. Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical condition with no known cure. It does not cause any lasting damage to the body's tissues. This means that people with this condition need to create an environment where they can manage their symptoms.Many people find that their symptoms get better or worse at certain times, or as a result of specific triggers, such as stress and injuries.

Managing fibromyalgia requires finding the right combination of treatments. What works for one person might not work for another, and effective strategies may change with time. A willingness to experiment and a supportive doctor can help. Be honest about symptoms, and if medication or home remedies are not working, talk to a supportive provider about trying other options.

The main stay of treatment are as follows:

1.Exercise:There is a strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and chronic pain. Remaining physically active prevents muscle wasting and stiffness that can make pain worse. There is no clear evidence to suggest that one specific exercise program is better than another. Instead, most exercise including aerobic exercises, tai chi, yoga and pilates, seem to produce at least modest pain relief.

2.Talking therapies: Some studies suggest that talking therapy can help people cope with fibromyalgia. Stress and lack of social support can make a person's pain feel less manageable. Therapy can help people with fibromyalgia find new ways to cope that work for them.

3.Stress management:Stress can make fibromyalgia symptoms worse. Stress management techniques may, therefore, make symptoms less severe. Some people turn to friends or family, while others find that new hobbies or other distractions work well.

4.Mindfulness and meditation:Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, which encourages increased awareness of the present moment, may help with fibromyalgia symptoms.Meditation may also help reduce stress and anxiety, which are among the most common triggers for fibromyalgia.

5.Fibromyalgia drugs: There are a variety of drug treatments that may be helpful in relieving fibromyalgia pain. These include standard pain killers such as paracetamol, codeine, anti-inflammatories (Naproxen) and Tramadol. More targeted drugs include:  Pregabalin (Lyrica), which may calm overactive nerves; Duloxetine (Cymbalta), a drug that acts on brain chemicals to dampen pain signals and Amitriptyline, which may help with sleep and pain. People with fibromyalgia may need to try several drugs or different dosages before they find the right combination that works for them.

6.Sleep HygieneMany people with fibromyalgia struggle to sleep at night. Sleep deprivation can make the pain worse. Therefore, engaging with techniques to help with sleep may help.These include going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. Making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Not having your mobile phone in the same room may also help.

7.Complementary therapies: These therapies include: acupuncture, massage therapy and biofeedback. These methods may work for some people and not for others. Complementary medicine may offer the best results when used alongside traditional treatments.

8.Lifestyle changes: Some lifestyle changes can improve a person's comfort and help them to manage their symptoms. Some examples include using a comfortable but ergonomically sound chair, especially when doing work and practicing good posture.

9.CBD Oil: Anecdotal data suggests that taking CBD oil may alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia in some people including pain and improving sleep. However formal research is currently lacking to confirm the effectiveness of CBD Oil in fibromyalgia.

10.Working with a supportive medical team: Finding a sympathetic doctor can be key to getting an accurate diagnosis and having treatment tailored to an individual's specific needs.Feeling heard and understood is critical to unlocking the best possible combination of treatments.

Should you require my advice on this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me on info@hasantahir.com or make an appointment by calling my secretary on 02071234596.

Hasan Tahir, Consultant Rheumatologist


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