Sunday, June 12, 2005

Fibromyalgia - CURRENT Symptom Management & Medications, Part #2

Fibromyalgia symptom management can be summarized in the following 4 key points:

1) Working with your Doctor(s) to identify and prescribe appropriate medications;
2) Under your Doctor(s)' care, establishing exercise programs that stretch muscles and improve cardiovascular (aerobic) fitness;
3) Learning and using relaxation techniques and other measures to ease muscle tension and anxiety; and,
4) Learning all that you can about your body and your illness' impact on you to assist you in better understanding how to manage the symptom impairments toward a better qualify of life.

Most of the sites that I researched about fibromyalgia medications indicated that patients who have, or believe that they have the disease, use a long list of medications, but none of the medications used for treating fibromyalgia symptoms were actually developed for fibromyalgia, or even approved by the FDA for treating it. It is also very important to understand that medications will not cure fibromyalgia; however, the better you know your symptoms, the better you can work with your Doctor(s) to identify ways to decrease your symptom impacts. Some of these ways might be with medications; some might be with behavior modification (i.e., stretching).

As a matter of fact, if you refer to an earlier blog about Multiple Sclerosis symptoms and their medications, you will find a great similarity to fibromyalgia symptom medications. For example: the primary symptoms affecting fibromyalgia patients are pain; problems with sleep; depression; and muscle twitches.

Unlike the MS blog, I've grouped the fibromyalgia symptoms most known; then, I have added some specific symptoms and their associated medication options.

Allergic reactions to foods and/or chemicals
Loss of balance and dizziness
Skin is easily irritated
Extreme fatigue
Sensitivity to bright lights or noises
Jaw pain
Loss of memory accompanied by difficulty concentrating
Menstrual pain
Sensitive to dairy products
Stiffness when walking and especially in the morning

1) Pain medications

Pain medications used to treat fibromyalgia symptoms range from OTC (over-the-counter) medications like acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen to prescription medications. A lot of prescription pain medications are those that directly impact severe muscle pain. You really need to check with your Doctor(s) for a prescription pain medication. (Note: in a later blog we will discuss what is happening with the best known of these prescription pain medications such as Vioxx, Bextra, and Celebrex.)

2) Antidepressants

The research that I have done suggests that something called "Tricyclic antidepressants", when taken at bedtime, in dosages lower than those used to treat depression, can help the patient suffering from fibromyalgia rest easier, and fall asleep. Some examples of these include: amitriptyline; cyclobenzaprine, doxepin, and nortriptline.

3) More complicated pain, depression, and fatigue

There is a type of antidepressant called "Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors" or SSRIs. If the antidepressants in #2 don't work well enough, some doctors will combine a #2 with an SSRI such as floxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. The problem with the SSRIs is that they may cause problems with a patient's ability to sleep, increasing fatigue. This is why it is so critical for you to know your body, its symptoms, and how those symptoms impair your daily (and nighttime) symptoms! Your Doctor(s) can't help you unless you help them with accurate, specific information.

For additional symptoms, like bowel and bladder problems, and muscle cramps, check out the Multiple Sclerosis medications blog.

We sincerely hope that this blog gives you ideas to discuss with your Doctor(s). Please comment and/or ask any additional questions about this blog, or any other.