Fibromyalgia causes pain, soreness, and fatigue. Like arthritis, it affects your joints and can hurt enough that it keeps you from doing daily activities. But it doesn’t damage your joints or muscles.
Some people who have it have other symptoms, too, like sleep problems, headaches, digestive issues, mood issues, sensitivity to light or sound, and memory loss.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, and there’s no cure, but your doctor can help you manage your symptoms with medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
If you have fibromyalgia, your doctor may give you pain relievers, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, or drugs that help you sleep, depending on your symptoms.
The FDA has approved three prescription medications to help treat fibromyalgia pain:
- Pregabalin(Lyrica) was first used to treat seizures and nerve pain linked to diabetes. It affects nerve cells that help send pain signals. But it can cause side effects like sleepiness, dizziness, blurred vision, and trouble concentrating. It also may lead to weight gain, swelling in your hands and feet, and dry mouth. A small number of people have an allergic reaction to it.
- Duloxetinehydrochloride (Cymbalta) is an antidepressant that’s also been used to treat diabetic nerve pain. Its side effects include sleepiness, dry mouth, and sweating, as well as nausea, constipation, and a lack of appetite. In some people, it also can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.
- Milnacipran (Savella) is the first drug designed specifically for fibromyalgia treatment. It affects brainchemicals linked to pain. It can cause things like nausea, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, and sleep trouble for some people. It also may raise your heart rate or blood pressure.
Some other drugs used to treat depression or other conditions may also help with fibromyalgia symptoms. Ask your doctor if any of those might work for you.
Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophenmay help ease some of the pain. But doctors don’t recommend opioidpainkillers, like oxycodone or hydrocodone, for fibromyalgia. These powerful medications don’t work as well for that condition as they do for other problems, and there’s a chance you might start to depend on them.
If you have fibromyalgia, regular exercise is an important part of managing your symptoms. A physical therapist can teach you ways to get stronger and more flexible.
While pain and fatigue can make exercise hard, you can begin with something like a little extra walking. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can move on to things like aerobics, yoga, or swimming. Gyms or community centers often have classes that may help get you started.
An occupational therapist may help you find ways to work and do things around the house that are less stressful on your body.
Take Care of Yourself
You can do a few other things to make living with fibromyalgia easier:
- Stresscan make your symptoms worse. Better sleep and relaxation techniques can help with that. Try to get 7 to 8 hours each night, and take time to relax every day.
- Massage therapymay relax your muscles, lower your heart rate, and ease stress.
- A support group can help you learn more about your condition and connect with other people who are going through the same thing.
- If you feel sad or anxious, a counselor or therapist may help you deal with those emotions.