What Fibromyalgia Treatment is Available?
It is common for doctors to inform you that little can be done to treat fibromyalgia and initially just to take over the counter pain medications (OTC’s) to relieve your pain.
OTC Meds for Fibromyalgia Treatment (OTC – Over the Counter)
Most of us have been months suffering with our symptoms and know that over the counter medications do little to relieve our pain! Sometimes, they do take the edge off the pain to make it more bearable. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the main choices.
Ibuprofen will help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, it can be dangerous to take for long periods of time. It can lead to stomach bleeds or other organ problems.
Therefore it is advisable to switch your OTC pain meds every week or two. Take ibuprofen for a week and the following week take acetaminophen. (Advil/Paracetamol)
In cases of severe pain it is possible to occasionally combine the two pain meds as they work on different pain receptors. So you could take a dose of Ibuprofen and if the pain persists take some acetaminophen. Please talk to your pharmacist or doctor before doing so. I have spoken to my doctor and several pharmacists and they said it is fine as the pills work differently. Never exceed the stated daily dose despite the pain you are in. It can be dangerous.
NSAIDs is a Popular Fibromyalgia Treatment
If your pain is severe, your doctor will likely prescribe NSAIDs. These are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs for short. The majority of fibro patients do not get much relief from these drugs. Occasionally they can take away the joint stiffness and ease some of the chronic pain.
There are many different types of NSAIDs on the market so it may take a lot of trial and error to find one that suits your fibro symptoms. Research whatever medication you are given in order to get the full facts!
I was prescribed Celebrex by my rheumatologist. It is an expensive drug and is widely promoted on television. After taking it a month – you need to give these drugs time to do their thing! – I felt no improvement in my pain. I researched Celebrex and discovered it is not recommended for people with a high family risk of heart disease as it increases blood pressure and has a high risk of heart complications.
As I only see my rheumy twice a year I went to my family doctor and asked for another medication and I gave her my reasons -what I had discovered searching online. She told me she stopped prescribing Celebrex as it is a very close cousin of Vioxx. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market due to the number of deaths associated with it. My doctor felt Celebrex is made in a similar manner and therefore no longer prescribes it. So always listen to your family doctor.
All NSAIDs have a tendency to increase blood pressure. Some more so than others so you need to persevere and find the safest one possible that relieves your pain.
NSAIDs are used to treat mild to moderate pain, inflammation and fever. They are prescribed for patients with arthritis, fibro, sports injuries and menstrual cramps. Aspirin is a NSAID and it is administered to prevent blood clotting that can lead to stroke or heart attack in people at high risk. NSAIDs vary in strength and duration of effectiveness and how they are eliminated from the body. They also vary in their toxicity levels.
They have significant side effects especially in the elderly. Side effects include stomach upset, IBS, high BP, ulcers, stroke or heart attack.
The bottom line is – be proactive in your fibromyalgia treatment – If the NSAID you are taking isn’t doing much for your pain stop taking it! It simply isn’t worth the increased health risk. Heck we have enough to contend with without adding more drug related problems to our symptom list!
Topical Pain Relief Creams
There are many topical creams for the treatment of fibromyalgia and arthritis. These creams have a numbing effect on the area where applied. Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing, these can be a good option. Especially good for hands that do a lot of typing !
Your doctor will be reticent to prescribe strong pain medications until you have explored other fibromyalgia treatments. Often you will need to visit a pain clinic in order to get these drugs prescribed. Again, it all comes down to your doctor and your relationship with him/her.
Most doctors are reluctant to start fibromyalgia patients on narcotics as they are highly addictive and our body becomes used to them we will require higher doses in order to get the same initial pain relief. I know many fibromyalgia patients that have been prescribed morphine (Avinza) for their pain, it all depends on your health care provider and possibly where in the world you reside.
Tylenol 3 (co-codamol) is a popular milder narcotic that is generally prescribed when NSAIDs fail to give relief from the pain of fibromyalgia. It contains on average 300mg Acetaminophen, 15mg caffeine and 30mg codeine per pill. Tylenol 1’s are available from the pharmacy counter without a prescription, they are stronger than regular Advil and contain 15mg codeine.
Other Medications for Fibromyalgia Treatment
As fibromyalgia is becoming more prevalent, more drugs are being approved for its treatment. Several anticonvulsants have been prescribed for fibro with Lyrica being the new kid on the block. Originally prescribed for epileptic seizures it is now also prescribed for anxiety and fibromyalgia. (since 2007)
It does come with many side effects and does not work for everyone so do your research!
Other drugs include Cymbalta and Topamax.
There is no ‘one drug fits all’ for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Drugs are administered based on your physical condition, age and your fibromyalgia symptoms.
Doctors will always take the course of the less dangerous medications first. All drugs even over the counter drugs come with a risk. If the medication you are taking is not working, talk to your doctor and seek alternative therapy for fibromyalgia treatment.
Discuss your fibromyalgia treatment and pain relief with your health care provider. This is very important as certain medications can interact, even herbal treatments can interact with your prescribed medications.
There are many ways to help manage your fibromyalgia symptoms. It takes time but hopefully with perseverance it is possible to find a fibromyalgia treatment that makes life easier for you.. Don’t forget, your fibromyalgia treatment is not limited to medication therapy, you can also investigate alternative therapy for fibromyalgia. Generally, we need to have several combinations of various fibromyalgia treatment therapies to effectively treat our fibro.