Presently, treatment for fibromyalgia aims to improve sleep and reduce pain. A few medications, for example Elavil (a tri-cyclic anti-depressant also called Amytriptilene) or Flexeril (a muscle relaxant) are known to be helpful for some people with FM when taken at very low doses (5 – 10 mg) nightly. These doses are below the usual therapeutic dose for the medication. Either Elavil or Flexeril can help improve sleep quality and reduce pain over a period of time. Consistent use of most “pain-killers” or “sleeping pills” have not shown long-term effectiveness in treating the symptoms of FM. Often less medication is better.
Some patients find treatments such as therapeutic massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, or osteopathic manipulation helpful, especially when the therapist understands and treats FM and is able to adapt treatments to meet the needs of the individual. Developing an individualized, gentle exercise program along with other management techniques may help to achieve and maintain a more functional lifestyle.
Becoming educated about FM and learning to self-manage the conditions seems, so far, to be the most successful way of dealing with its many effects.
Lifestyle modifications are helpful to conserve energy and minimize pain. Facets of pacing may be helpful. Relaxation exercise can reduce physical and emotional stress. Balancing rest with activity may reduce fluctuations in degree of symptoms. Implementing dietary changes may also help to regulate bodily functions and support various systems in the body.
It is important to find a helpful and supportive medical professional who understands the myriad of issues that an FM patient deals with and can help with the appropriate prescription and monitoring of medications and their effects. It is also important to seek professional help for any reactive depression that may result from dealing with a debilitating chronic illness.
The use of other medications or complementary medicines and therapies may help to reduce or relieve some specific symptoms that may be impacting on a person’s overall FM condition.
Support from family, friends and other people is extremely valuable to those who have FM. Professional counselling may help some people to cope with the losses associated with this chronic condition and to assist with developing new coping strategies.
Self-help groups can plan important role in assisting people with FM to discover local resources that can access to help them manage their condition.