People with fibromyalgia often work with a rheumatologist. Other healthcare professionals might be involved in your care as well.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes pain all over your body. It’s estimated that about
If you have fibromyalgia, you may work closely with a primary care professional, such as a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Your primary doctor may also refer you to a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is an expert on inflammatory conditions and chronic pain.
Fibromyalgia causes symptoms that affect daily living. Because of this, many healthcare professionals could be part of your care team, depending on how fibromyalgia affects your life.
If you live with fibromyalgia, a few types of doctors may be involved with your care. Where you live and what kind of care you have access to will also factor in.
Many people with fibromyalgia get a referral to a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating inflammatory conditions. They work with people who have arthritis, chronic pain, or some autoimmune conditions.
You may also work closely with your family physician, depending on their level of knowledge of fibromyalgia. Your doctor could also refer you to a pain specialist or other health professional, depending on your needs.
Tips for talking about fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can cause many symptoms. It may feel hard to know where to start when you’re at an appointment with your healthcare professional.
Here are some tips to make the most of your healthcare appointments:
- Book the appointment for a time of day when you tend to have more energy.
- Write down any specific questions you may have.
- Make notes ahead of time about any changes you’ve noticed in your symptoms.
- Write down any patterns you’ve noticed – anything that made your symptoms better or worse.
- Bring a notebook, voice recorder, or your phone so you’ll have notes afterward or can listen to the conversation again.
If you’ve just received a fibromyalgia diagnosis or are in the process of getting a diagnosis, you may not have a care team yet. In this case, you can connect with your primary care provider first. Depending on their experience, they may be able to make the diagnosis and provide care. If not, they may refer you to a specialist.
If you’re not sure how to find a doctor, you can ask for recommendations from a trusted healthcare professional. You could also consider connecting with a support group or patient advocacy group. These sources can give you ideas on how to find care.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult. No single specific test can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Your doctor will take a detailed symptom history as part of making a diagnosis. They may also request tests to rule out other causes of pain, fatigue, and additional symptoms.
Fibromyalgia does not have one specific treatment. It’s a complex condition. Treatment options vary, and the way you manage the condition is likely to change over time.
Plus, different approaches may work for different people. It may take a lot of trial and error before you figure out what is helpful for you.
Here are some of the treatments used for fibromyalgia.
- pain medications, either prescription or over-the-counter
- some types of antidepressants, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) or milnacipran (Savella)
- some types of antiseizure medications, such as pregabalin (Lyrica) or gabapentin (Neurontin)
Other approaches include:
- practicing sleep hygiene strategies to improve sleep and reduce fatigue
- engaging in gentle movement, especially stretching and strength exercises
- getting mental health support
- pacing yourself to work with the amount of energy you have available for daily tasks
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that you will manage in the long term.
Sometimes, your symptoms might interfere more with your daily life, while other times they may feel better managed. You may need to change the way you manage your symptoms over time.
It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team. They are there to support you.
What other healthcare professionals might I work with?
As with many other chronic health conditions, it’s helpful to have a care team. Along with a primary care doctor or possibly a rheumatologist, you may work with other healthcare professionals.
Other healthcare professionals on your team may include:
- a pain specialist
- an exercise specialist, such as a physical therapist
- a mental health counselor
- a neurologist
Are complementary therapies helpful for fibromyalgia?
The term “complementary therapy” refers to alternative care approaches that you might try alongside regular treatments.
Complementary therapies often take a full mind and body approach. They may help you manage pain and improve mood and sleep. In fact, up to
Complementary therapies that
- stretching and flexibility exercises
- tai chi
- thermal therapy
Is it OK to ask for a second opinion?
Absolutely! It is your right as a patient to ask for a second opinion. A second opinion from another healthcare professional can be helpful for both you and your doctor, especially because there is not one single approach to treating fibromyalgia.
Many health professionals will consult with others if they are not sure how to provide the best care to someone. You can ask a trusted member of your healthcare team for a recommendation for a doctor who can give a second opinion. You could also consult a fibromyalgia support group or organization for ideas.
Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic condition that causes fatigue, pain throughout the body, and changes in mood. Having a supportive team of healthcare professionals is an important part of managing the condition. Many people with fibromyalgia work with a rheumatologist.
It is also common to work with other healthcare professionals, such as a mental health counselor or an exercise or pain specialist. There are many different approaches to treating fibromyalgia, and your care team can help you figure out which treatments will work best for you.