5 Great New Developments in Managing Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibromyalgia is one of those conditions that is difficult to define because it's not yet totally understood. In most patients, it causes chronic pain, muscle stiffness, and extreme fatigue that make it difficult for those that suffer from it to make it through their day to day activities.
Most people who have fibromyalgia don't seek medical help, so there could be as many as 2 million people in the U.K. who experience these symptoms every day. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, new developments are emerging to help patients manage their chronic pain symptoms. Here are five of the most exciting new developments in fibromyalgia pain management.
When faced with a patient with fibromyalgia, most doctors start by prescribing over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, but these aren't always enough to help patients manage their chronic pain. In 2007, the FDA approved a drug called Lyrica for the treatment of fibromyalgia. This drug works by calming the over-active nerves that could be contributing to fibromyalgia pain. Though it was approved in 2007, scientists are still studying its effectiveness to this day because they don't actually understand why the drug helps to improve fibromyalgia pain — it just does. Nonetheless, it’s a good option for some.
You may not usually think of lasers when exploring potential fibromyalgia treatments, but a recent study has found that low-intensity lasers when combined with ultrasounds, can help to reduce fibromyalgia pain by up to 75%. The procedure consists of 10 twice-weekly sessions. Though the study only applied the laser treatment to the palms of the participant's hands, it has the potential to help reduce fibro pain throughout the patient's body.
Exercising with fibromyalgia might seem counterintuitive, but studies are emerging proving that exercise is an effective way to treat chronic pain. Aerobic exercise is the best option, with one study published in 2018 finding that tai chi — a slow, low-impact martial art — is more effective than just aerobic exercise at reducing chronic fibromyalgia pain. Exercise is one of the most common fibromyalgia treatments. Choosing the right workout makes all the difference.
Traditionally, relaxation techniques are used to treat fibromyalgia in conjunction with pain relievers, exercise, and other tools. Recently, attachment-based compassion therapy (ABCT) has emerged as a tool for treating fibromyalgia pain, at least when used alongside other treatment options. This is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that uses mindfulness and exercises compassion as an active tool for patients to deal with their chronic pain.
Marijuana is becoming legal in many areas for either recreational or medical use. Patients that live in an area with a medical marijuana program may be able to look into this as an option to treat their fibromyalgia or other chronic pain. A study in 2014 found that fibro, as well as related conditions, could be caused by an imbalance in the body's endocannabinoid system which can be corrected by utilizing medical marijuana in one of its many forms. It can help to reduce the pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia, as well as reduce inflammation and improve relaxation.
While doctors and researchers might not understand what causes the chronic pain that accompanies fibromyalgia, these advances are a step in the right direction. These treatment options will help patients manage their chronic pain and may, over time, provide scientists with a better understanding of this painful condition that affects so many. If one treatment option doesn't work, you've got many others to choose from — something that didn't exist just two decades ago.
Author: Kate Harveston, Health & Lifestyle Journalist.
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