Now that a diagnosis has been reached, the doctors will give their advice and prescriptions to reduce pain. There are a few options available to choose from:
- Prescriptions – The effectiveness of medicine for reducing pain varies. Medicines used for fibromyalgia include antidepressants, certain anticonvulsants, sleep aids, and pain meds. I went through several before finding one that helped at all.
- Dietary or Herbal remedies – There are many herbal options out there. None have really been scientifically established, but many patients will swear by them. I know for me that sugar is a BIG factor. When I removed bread and sugars from my diet, my pain decreases substantially.
- Mind-Body Techniques – tai chi , yoga, and other techniques can be helpful
- Biofeedback – learning to control body responses, such as blood pressure, muscle tension and heart rate can be helpful. TENS therapy has been helpful for some.
- Therapy – I found physical therapy, especially water therapy to be very helpful. Many people find a great deal of relief from massage therapy.
Just the Beginning
You might expect that once you get your diagnosis, you can breathe again. But many times, this is when the fight really begins. This is when you start seeing the specialists, doing the therapy and adjusting the medications.
Reminder: I just want to say that I am a patient, not a doctor. What I am sharing comes largely from what my doctors taught me and what I have discovered in my own searching.
I am sharing to hopefully help you be informed enough to support friends with this syndrome or possibly acquire informed questions for your doctor. Please talk with your doctor or visit the Mayo Clinic website for official information, diagnosis, and treatment.
Medicine is a great thing.
Think of all the discoveries that have been made which have saved so many lives. But there is also a price to pay. And I’m not talking about the cost of the medication, which in itself can be a challenge. I’ve often thought when I see commercials for medications and you hear all the side effects, that maybe, you are just trading one problem for another.
I tried three medications before finding one that relieved pain at all. Those that did nothing for me included Neurontin, Cymbalta, and Tramadol. Finally, I was prescribed Savella. Which is a relatively new drug, but it is indicated specifically fo fibromyalgia. It has done the trick for me. It reduced by pain enough that I was able to greatly reduce the use of steroids.
Most of us with fibromyalgia have waited an average of 5 years to get a diagnosis. We have probably already gone through several different drugs trying to get relief.
If you would like to read more about my specific journey with medications, go to my personal website … Waiting & Trusting
NOTES TO THE CAREGIVER OR FRIEND
We need you to understand that these medications only take the edge off of the pain. They bring life to a place where one can function (at least a little bit).
When I visit the doctor or the therapist, they ask what my level of pain is on a scale of 1 to 10. Mine averages out at around 5 or 6. When the weather is bad, it might be 8 or 9.
You Don’t Look Sick
Fibromyalgia is called an invisible syndrome because the patient doesn’t have obvious signs of sickness. When in public, we usually put our best foot forward. We may look great, but inside the pain is nearly unbearable. Usually, once we get home, we collapse for the rest of the day. And may not be able to function at all the next day.
Caregivers and friends many times feel at a loss as to how to help the patient.
They are scared to touch them for fear of hurting them and they never know if the patient will be having a good day or not. My advice is to 1) Learn as much as you can about Fibromyalgia and 2) just keep trying to encourage. I find that laughter is good medicine so maybe you can find ways to create laughter for them
Create opportunities to laugh.
- Watch a funny movie or TV show together
- Go to a comedy club.
- Read the funny pages.
- Call and share a good joke or a funny story.
- Bring her a good book from the humor section.
- Host game night with friends.
- Play with a pet.
- Bring photo albums from days gone by.
- Goof around with children.
- Do something silly.
- Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).
Your friend may not always accept your invitation,
but keep trying. Just remember that they must do things in moderation. Otherwise, they will crash the next day.
Some Don’ts to Live By
- Don’t continually ask, “How are you feeling?” This usually brings the pain to the forefront for them. Focus on other aspects of well-being instead of physical health. Encourage other conversations about what is going on. Let them share their physical issues on their own.
- Don’t minimize their pain when they speak of it. The pain is very real. Be available to listen. Focus on positive changes.
- Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in discussing symptoms, causes of pain, latest treatments. This usually leads to more frustration.
- Don’t leave them out of your plans and activities. Spending time with you can be a distraction from their pain.
- Family members, don’t alter or change your way of living. You may have to use moderation, but fibromyalgia sufferers need for life to be as “normal” as possible.
- Do not treat them like an invalid. He/she has chronic symptoms. That does not mean that activity will cause injury. Allow for independence. Offer support.
Break the Cycle.
These things can help break the cycle of pain and help the sufferer feel like they are still a part of your life. One thing I find is that it’s hard to know what to say when someone asks what they can do for you. One is not really sure if they are sincere or just how far you can take that. My suggestion is if something comes to your mind to do, just do it for them. Here’s a post I wrote a while back on things to do … Just Do It
Remember, that the family has probably spent a great deal of money on doctors and medications. If you are able, help them financially. Pick up some groceries for them, bring them a meal, purchase a gift certificate for a therapeutic massage.
Feeling Your Pain;
Mayo Clinic – Treatments and Drugs
Fibromyalgia National Coalition Butterflies – Facebook Page