Fibromyalgia can be treated. However, recent clinical treatment guidelines stipulate the use of a multi-disciplinary approach. This means that a treatment programme includes physiotherapy, nutritional support, psychological support, consultations with a rheumatologist and your GP. The treatment plan works towards specific goals:
Improve medical pain management
Fibromyalgia is thought to be a rheumatic disease because it affects the joints and muscles. The rheumatologist is involved with the ongoing management of the pain and can perform tests to identify the causes of particular symptoms such as morning stiffness.
The rheumatologist can also advise you on the best pain medication and will monitor the effects of physical activity and physiotherapy and provide additional support for pain management including medication and/or injections.
Headaches are commonly experienced as a result of chronic pain disorders and are responsive to biofeedback treatment. Biofeedback is a technique that has met with success in research studies on its efficacy in the treatment of headaches. A foundational component of biofeedback for pain management is learning to pinpoint areas of tension and then relax them using deeper breaths and sequential muscle relaxation. More on Biofeedback
Improving sleep quality is essential in people with chronic pain. In addition to biofeedback for muscle relaxation, behavioral modification has been demonstrated in multiple studies to be an effective treatment option for insomnia, and these techniques have been successfully applied to fibromyalgia. Behavioral modifications aimed at improving sleep quality (often referred to as sleep hygiene) include removing those behaviors and environmental stimuli associated with delaying, disrupting, or decreasing sleep and introducing behaviors and environments that promote a routine, scheduled pattern of restful sleep.
Improve emotional and psychological well-being
The effect of chronic pain syndromes extends far beyond the physical stress of pain. As many as 60% of people with fibromyalgia suffer from psychological conditions and outcomes for fibromyalgia patients are improved when psychological symptoms such as low mood and anxiety of the syndrome are addressed. Supporting emotional wellbeing also has a positive effect upon memory, attention and cognitive processing in people with chronic pain.
Psychological support for chronic includes cognitive behavioural therapy, a technique which combines behavior therapy with cognitive psychology. The aim of this therapy is to modify the individual’s responses to their pain, their social interactions, to expand behavioural repertoire and challenge dysfunctional beliefs and thought processes.
In psychological treatment the client is also provided with skills training to learn strategies to manage symptoms and problems. Clients are then supported through the application phase which is a gradual and systematic introduction of these strategies into daily life.
Nutritional support for people with chronic pain is emerging as an important aspect of treatment. Nutritional intervention aims at identifying whether the client has mineral deficiencies associated with the disorder. In addition, support through elimination diets is recommended to obtain a nutritional programme which supports the well-being of the individual. For example, gluten sensitivity has been linked to fibromyalgia symptoms and eliminating gluten can have a positive effect for some people with fibromyalgia.
Aerobic exercise and a greater range of movement
There are positive benefits of aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia symptoms. Exercise has an analgesic effect, possibly via activation of endogenous opioid and cannabinoid receptor systems. In addition, there is strong evidence that regular aerobic exercise has a significant antidepressant effect. Clear and realistic goals should be set and activity introduced at levels high enough to exert an analgesic and antidepressant effect but low enough to avoid exacerbation of pain symptoms. Supervision by a physiotherapist is crucial to avoid inducing musculoskeletal injuries during certain activities. Whatever the exercise modality, gradual progression, regular practice, and lifelong adherence are necessary to achieve maximum benefit.
Consultation with your GP
We work with your GP to provide an individual treatment plan suited to your individual needs.