The most consistent treatment advice that all the experts in FM try to promote is a multi-faceted comprehensive treatment approach. Those who have followed this blog for a while know that I have always promoted this advice: this means NOT putting all your eggs in one basket…
Over time, you can validate what works best to alleviate your pain. A number of lifestyle changes and other treatment methods can have a cumulative positive effect on the pain you experience.
Here is a list of some commonly used treatment options:
- Conventional medicines — Your doctor will work with you to discover what prescription medicines may work best for you. Options are many including pain and antidepressant medicines.
- Nutrition and diet — Some researchers believe that the foods you eat can affect FM symptoms.
- Dietary Supplements — Vitamins and minerals play important roles in health and maintenance of the body.
- Exercise — Exercise helps relieve joint stiffness and can help alleviate some of the pain as well. Short workouts have been proven to help many of us. Pain may initially increase, but then gradually decreases. Hydrotherapy, tai-chi and yoga are excellent forms of exercise. These forms of exercise incorporate relaxation and meditation techniques. Deep breathing and slow movement will reduce your stress level and increase your fitness.
- Physiotherapy — A physiotherapist can help you with stretching and good posture. Stretching will reduce joint and muscle stiffness. This therapist can also help you with relaxation techniques, another powerful FM treatment option.
- Relaxation therapy — Stress aggravates FM. Reducing stress will provide you with a more restful sleep, improving symptoms.
- Massage therapy — This is another great relaxation technique.
- Over-the-counter drugs — You will need to work with your doctor. Always talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter medications you plan to take.
- Herbal remedies — Many herbs have medicinal healing powers. Again, you must talk to your doctor when using herbal remedies
- Chinese medicine — Consider exploring Chinese medicine which places great emphasis on herbal remedies and incorporates life energy healing techniques.
- Homeopathy — Visit a homeopathic specialist. They specialize in natural remedies to illnesses.
- Acupuncture — Modern adherents of acupuncture believe that it affects blood flow and the way the brain processes pain signals. Studies have shown this may be effective for FM.
- Chiropractic care—Chiropractors specialize in spinal problems, which can be a major source of pain for some people.
Your odds of gaining a significant reduction in symptoms, and improving your quality of life through a combination of many different treatment options, is pretty good…if you get the right combination.
There are thousands of different options and combinations of options. What works best?
Somehow you have to record all the treatments you are trying, how you feel on a particular, what happens when you add a new modal. It’s not easy…I can’t even keep track and that’s part of the reason I started this blog…you forget that you took that extra pain-killer because your head was killing you on Wednesday, or that you missed your hydrotherapy session because your stomach was acting up.
That really is the great challenge with fighting Fibro – the BEST combination of treatments will be different for each individual. (Isn’t that the bit that sucks the most? Hearing that everyone is different?)
We need to remember that we (YOU) are the centre point of treatment, by focusing on treatments that match our own lifestyles, abilities, symptoms and resources. The problem is that a personalized treatment approach to FM relief cannot be developed without a firm understanding of the symptoms and co-morbid conditions that require treatment (and I’ve been trying to research it all for over a year…and I keep finding new symptoms!).
We must also establish a trustworthy support team to assist us in pursuing not only all the different treatment options, but the execution of the treatments chosen. Effective teams typically include the patient’s primary care physician, various specialists (e.g., rheumatologists, neurologists, dietitians, psychologists), as well as friends, family, and even members of fibromyalgia support groups.
And finally (if all of that was not enough), specific and achievable goals must be set in order to measure the effects of EVERYTHING!
It is vitally important to constantly and consistently observe and evaluate the treatment methods being used. Through this whole process, we get frustrated over and over again! Our reality is an ongoing trial-and-error approach to treatment. AAARGGGGHHHH!
However, it is crucial to treatment success and must be embraced as a necessary evil.
When trying to determine a personalized course of treatment, we need to forget the agendas of physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and other external entities. Our decisions need to be driven by both symptoms and causal factors. Examples of important questions to ask during this process include:
- What symptom do I want to address?
- How will this particular treatment impact that symptom?
- What are the potential side effects of this treatment?
- Does this treatment have the potential to interact with other treatments I am using?
- What will this treatment cost?
- What are my expected results and in what time frame should I anticipate to note results?
Throughout this process, it is important to remember that successful relief is highly individualized (again!) and will vary between patients. What appears to be a miraculous treatment for me may fail to provide any benefit to you.
This whole process takes more time (yes! most of us have had to wait years for a diagnosis and now we have to take more time!).
A trial and error evaluation process is most effective when employed in a scientific manner meaning that different treatment elements should often be tested in isolation. I know that when I read about CoQ10 and D-Ribose and Sam-E, I started taking them all at the same time. I am now no longer able to tell which supplement or combination of supplements is actually driving the results they may experience. It is impossible to accurately measure specific results to associate with any individual option, so I need to start again…again!
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