There’s no cure for fibromyalgia, but the condition may go into remission for weeks or even years at a time.
Even though fibromyalgia is considered a chronic condition that never goes away entirely, most people experience fluctuations in symptoms over time. It’s possible that the disease can go into remission for long periods, especially with treatment.
Here’s what to know about treating the condition and strategies to reduce your risk of flare-ups.
In some cases, your care team may prescribe or recommend medication for fibromyalgia symptoms, especially pain.
These may include:
- antidepressants like amitriptyline, duloxetine, or milnacipran
- anti-seizure drugs, like pregabalin
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Other than amitriptyline, the above medications are FDA approved for managing fibromyalgia symptoms.
OTC pain relievers aren’t recommended for fibromyalgia as they used to be, since they have limited effectiveness. But due to their relatively low risk of side effects, they may be worth a try.
Be sure to check in with your care team about medications that do or don’t seem to help. Over time, your body can develop a tolerance to certain medications, which can make them less effective. Your care team can help you monitor your tolerance and make adjustments if needed.
While medication can offer some relief, most people find better results when combining it with other strategies.
Exercise is typically recommended as part of any fibromyalgia treatment plan. According to a
According to a large
- life quality
- sleep disturbances
The authors of the 2017 study especially recommend tai chi, yoga, and qigong as low impact exercises to consider.
Identifying and avoiding triggers is another way to improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Even though experts don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, there are several factors that appear to trigger flare-ups or worsen existing symptoms, including:
- physical or emotional trauma
- certain foods, which can vary from person to person
- sedentary activity
- poor sleep
Triggers can vary from person to person, so you may want to consider keeping a journal tracking your activity, moods, and diet to see if you can identify any patterns.
Again, keeping a journal of how your symptoms change with the weather can help you get a better sense of how your symptoms are impacted. While you can’t control the weather, it may help to keep an eye on the forecast so you can better anticipate when you might experience a flare-up.
On one hand, the authors note that perfectionism may cause some people with fibromyalgia to avoid certain activities, including those that might help to improve symptoms. On the other hand, it may cause others to “work through” the pain, exacerbating symptoms and even contributing to flare-ups.
While more research is needed, this study highlights the mental health impact of living with a chronic condition like fibromyalgia.
Getting support from a mental health professional can be helpful for navigating some of the challenges that come with fibromyalgia. Acceptance and commitment therapy may be particularly helpful.
In addition to avoiding any foods that seem to trigger your symptoms, you may want to consider some broader dietary changes.
According to the
You may also want to avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening, as this can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Other approaches that may provide relief from symptoms include:
- occupational or physical therapy
- massage therapy
- the amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
- cannabis or CBD
While there isn’t a ton of high quality research behind these approaches, some people with fibromyalgia find some of these strategies helpful. Just be sure to check in with your healthcare professional before trying any new supplements, including CBD or cannabis.
While there’s no known cure for fibromyalgia, it may go into remission for extended periods with treatment. Exercise is currently the most recommended treatment for fibromyalgia, followed by medication, reducing stress, and identifying and avoiding triggers.