How can FM be treated?
There is no overnight cure for fibromyalgia but with the help of your doctor and family it is possible to find ways of managing your symptoms so that you can continue with your normal activities as much as possible. Fibromyalgia may settle down by itself, but this can take weeks, months or even years. Your doctor may be able to help you by making the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and reassuring you that despite all the pain you don’t have a condition that will cause permanent disability. You are no more likely to develop arthritis later on than anyone else. Your family can also help with understanding and encouragement.
Your doctor can prescribe a variety of medications which may help with the pain. These include painkillers such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (of which there are many). A steroid injection in the affected area may give temporary relief if one or two places are particularly painful.
Your doctor can also try to help with the sleep disturbance. Sleeping in a soft collar can help some people sleep better, particularly if the neck is uncomfortable. There is no harm in you trying this for a week or so, providing you do not get into the habit of wearing it during the day. Ordinary sleeping tablets are best avoided because they are often habit-forming and eventually lose their effect.
Many people with fibromyalgia can also be helped by an antidepressant drug. Some of the older ones, such as tricyclic antidepressants, have been found to be effective for long-term pain. They may also have a sedative effect and help to restore a sleep pattern. This can be helpful even if you do not have the depression which is often associated with fibromyalgia. The benefit may not be immediate, and you may notice side-effects – drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain -- before the benefits, so it is worth trying for at least a couple of months before deciding if they are helpful. Newer forms of antidepressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have fewer side effects than tricyclic antidepressants and are also sometime used to treat chronic pain.
Your doctor may also refer you to a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist or a counsellor for further information and advice about fibromyalgia. However, the most effective therapist will be you, yourself.