There is no cure for fibromyalgia, so treatments seek to decrease pain, improve muscle and joint function, and help patients avoid situations that can worsen their symptoms.
There are several categories of drugs used for fibromyalgia, including:
- analgesics to reduce pain
- sleep aids to improve sleep
- antidepressants and other drugs that affect brain chemistry to manage chemical imbalances associated with symptoms
- muscle relaxants to both reduce pain and improve sleep
For details on these drugs, visit the Fibromyalgia Drugs section.
Making changes to your daily routines can help reduce stress and improve sleep, both of which may reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. In people with minor cases of fibromyalgia, lifestyle changes can sometimes relieve symptoms sufficiently all by themselves.
Learn to recognize and avoid stressful situations as much as possible, and schedule time each day to relax via deep breathing, meditation, or other methods.
Gentle exercise such as walking or swimming is known to reduce stress, and can also help relieve pain by stretching and strengthening muscles. Be careful to keep exercise at moderate levels—overexertion can make fibromyalgia symptoms worse.
A well-balanced diet and reduction in or elimination of caffeine consumption can improve sleep and reduce fibromyalgia pain.
Regular Sleep Pattern
Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. Improve the sleep environment by regulating temperature, removing distractions, or getting a more supportive mattress. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar before bed.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common form of psychotherapy used in fibromyalgia. It teaches patients to better recognize and deal with stressful situations. In addition, there are many fibromyalgia support groups that allow patients to share their experiences and strategies for coping.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Physical therapy reduces muscle pain by using stretching exercises and other training methods to strengthen muscles and improve movement. Occupational therapy seeks to teach patients new ways to perform everyday tasks that avoid painful movements.
Massage, along with the application of heat and cold, can soothe sore muscles, reduce pain, and improve sleep. Massage for fibromyalgia also often incorporates light stretching or other physical therapy techniques.
Trigger Point Injections
To relieve severe pain, a doctor may inject a local anesthetic such as lidocaine directly into a painful trigger point. This effectively relieves pain, but only works for a short period of time—three to four weeks at most.