Fibromyalgia syndrome (or FMS) is a life-changing illness that causes pain in the entire body. Patients also frequently experience general exhaustion, and their run-down condition only worsens because it is difficult for them to get a good night's sleep. They may often have stiff muscles and frequent headaches. Besides these challenging physical symptoms, FMS also affects mental abilities by impairing memory and concentration. Although there is no known cure, there are some practical ways to reduce the severity of various symptoms.
Since fibromyalgia causes so much pain, it is easy to understand why people must take painkilling drugs. Sometimes they find adequate relief from drugs available over the counter at the pharmacy, but quite often they require stronger prescription medications. These provide a greater measure of relief, but their effectiveness tends to decline with repeated use. Prescription painkillers may also cause diarrhea and other unpleasant side effects.
Medications that relax muscles help people with fibromyalgia cope with muscle stiffness. Another definite advantage of using muscle relaxants is that they can make it easier to get good sleep. Usually, a short course of treatment is sufficient. Patients ought to be aware that these drugs can have unpleasant side effects and should only be used under close medical supervision.
The difficulty of coping with this very painful condition negatively impacts their emotional well-being. This factor alone helps explain why many of those with fibromyalgia take anti-depressant medicines. However, another reason for using such drugs is that they can relieve physical pains as well as mental distress. Anti-depressants are associated with a variety of side effects and should only be used under close physician supervision. These drugs sometimes make users feel sick and constipated, and they can also lead to weight gain and cause drowsiness.
Even someone who is perfectly healthy needs to get a reasonable amount of sleep each day to function effectively; for those who have fibromyalgia, good sleep is even more crucial. Those with the condition often find it tough to get good sleep, and this lack of sleep worsens the other symptoms of the illness. People buy sleeping tablets at the pharmacy without consulting a doctor, but nevertheless, it is preferable to get a doctor's recommendation. Doctors can also advise on various other techniques that FMS patients can use to get better sleep without the assistance of sleeping tablets.
Some anticonvulsants medicines for people with epilepsy also help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. As their name indicates, these drugs were originally developed to prevent epileptic seizures. However, clinical trials show that they also relieve pain for a certain number of FMS patients. As is the case with many other types of drugs, the patient needs to be aware of undesirable side effects. Anticonvulsants may cause the user to feel very drowsy or dizzy, and they can also trigger weight gain and make hands and feet swell.
One of the newest areas of research into fibromyalgia treatments studies the possible positive pain relief advantages of antipsychotic (or neuroleptic) drugs. These medications are primarily used to treat people with bipolar disorder, but it seems they can also be used as long-term FMS painkillers. Further research is required, but initial studies are encouraging. Even though some medical experts are optimistic, they still realize that these drugs are also likely to have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness and shaking.
Although fibromyalgia often needs to be treated through courses of painkillers, the adverse side effects of these medications encourage the search for alternative therapies. In earlier ages, medical authorities recommended visits to spas to cure all kinds of sicknesses. This practice is becoming popular once again as researchers are exploring the benefits it provides to those who live with chronic pain. Hydrotherapy, or swimming and bathing in hot water, is amongst the most popular of these non-drug treatments. It certainly has the advantages of no unpleasant side effects, but not everyone can take these treatments regularly enough to get adequate FMS relief.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture might also bring a measure of freedom from fibromyalgia pain. Over the last few decades, the number of people who believe in the efficacy of acupuncture has risen significantly, but an objective look at the medical evidence fails to support many of the claims. Nevertheless, this lack of proof need not detract from the value of acupuncture as a stress reducer. If it helps the patient relax, it may be easier for them to deal with the challenges of the illness.
Some patients find that various emotional or mental therapy techniques make it a little easier to live with fibromyalgia pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the modern approaches that some claim to be effective. The CBT therapist tries to change the patient's way of viewing their situation, This allows them to acquire the mental tools they need to take a more positive outlook and improves their ability to cope with the physical pain. Psychotherapists and physiological counseling groups follow comparable approaches that view changing attitudes as a key to pain relief.
Aromatherapy offers one of the most novel fibromyalgia treatments. Its followers believe that individual plants and oils have calming properties that can be beneficial to someone with fibromyalgia. No medical evidence supports claims that the aromatherapy treatment has any long-term value, but some find it helps reduce their stress and make them more relaxed.
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