Fibromyalgia

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Living with fibromyalgia means more than just pain. You may also have stiffness, trouble sleeping, and feel tired, anxious, or depressed. Fibromyalgia can be especially difficult because doctors do not know what causes it, and there isn't a cure yet. But there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

Mind and body

Relaxation and stress relief can make a big difference in fibromyalgia symptoms. And they don't just ease pain — they may also help you sleep better, feel calmer, and improve your mood.

  • Create a calming sleep space and practice good sleep habits. Getting a good night's sleep is key to managing fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • Guided imagery podcasts designed for managing pain, relieving stress and anxiety, and sleeping better can help relax and calm your whole body.
  • Care for Pain is a personalized online program that can help you cope with pain and manage symptoms without medications.
  • Relax teaches you ways to reduce stress and anxiety, created with your needs in mind.

Therapies

Fibromyalgia pain and tenderness is often treated with stretching, yoga, massage, and acupuncture. These treatments may help your body produce natural pain killers while relaxing joints and muscles and improving movement.

Find out about alternative therapies and treatments for pain.

Exercise

Yoga class photoAlthough fibromyalgia may cause pain when you move, regular exercise can actually improve pain over time. Try to exercise about 3 times per week, but avoid doing the same motion over and over in a short time period. This can make your symptoms worse.

Look for ways to get moving without putting strain on your joints and muscles, such as:

  • walking
  • water exercise
  • stationary bike
  • yoga
  • tai-chi

Talk to your doctor about other ways to stay active with fibromyalgia.

Medications

You've probably found that regular pain relievers don't help fibromyalgia symptoms, or only help a little. That's because fibromyalgia pain works differently than other types of pain. You might also have a stronger reaction to medication side effects, such as nausea, itching, and constipation.

  • Anti-seizure drugs have proven to be helpful for some people. Pregabalin, duloxetine, and milnacipran are all approved by the FDA for treatment of fibromyalgia.
  • Trigger point injections may be an alternative to pills. They work by reducing pain in a specific area short term (2 to 3 months). Injections can be quite painful, but may be worth the discomfort.

Your doctor may also prescribe sleep aids to help you have a more restful night.

Find out about common pain medications, alternative therapies, and what you can do at home to ease pain.

Learn more about fibromyalgia.

Reviewed by: Andrew Bertagnolli, PhD, November, 2015

Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

©2015 Kaiser Permanente

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