Not tracking your pain:“The problem with fibromyalgia is that patients are always in pain so it’s hard to judge when things get better and when they don’t get better,” says Bruce Baethge, MD, a rheumatologist with Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and Scott & White Healthcare, in Temple. Keeping a pain diary can help you keep track of the ebbs and flows of your fibromyalgia treatement. And if you know when things are better, you can also figure out what made them better and what to do next time
Expecting too much from medication :The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three drugs for fibromyalgia treatement: Lyrica (pregabalin), Cymbalta (duloxetine), and Savella (milnacipran). These drugs may or may not work for you, or be only partially effective. They can also be expensive or may have side effects, including psychiatric problems, Dr. Baethge says. Be flexible about your options and be willing to switch if necessary. “Treatment for fibromyalgia is not just one medicine. It’s a lifestyle,” he says.
Refusing to consider off-label drugs :Off-label drugs are those that are approved for use with one condition but frequently given to people with another condition. For instance, fibromyalgia patients are often treated with antidepressants, even though not all antidepressants are specifically approved for this condition. Some people get dramatic relief with both older and newer generations of antidepressants.
Not exploring alternatives :What’s considered an alternative fibromyalgia treatment in conventional medicine may not be for fibromyalgia. For instance, Dr. Baethge says, “Yoga is not considered an alternative treatment for fibromyalgia. We use stretching exercises as a mainstay of therapy.” Learning how to relieve stress through meditation, biofeedback techniques, or Tai chi, a Chinese martial art, can also be helpful.
Sticking with the wrong doctor :Believe it or not, there are physicians out there who still think that fibromyalgia treatment patients are making up the symptoms, probably because there’s so little known about the condition.Needless to say, this kind of doc isn’t going to explore all the options for your care. Don’t be afraid to switch if you think you may be seeing one of them.Look for a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, who focuses on fibromyalgia. The has a list of patient-recommended docs by state.
Denying that you’re sick :Many patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia will visit one physician after another trying to find a different opinion. By all means, get a second opinion. But refusing to accept the diagnosis after a second, third, or fourth opinion means you’re losing precious time, which could be spent learning about and managing the condition. Dr. Baethge recommends reading all you can about fibromyalgia treatment. “Education is key,” he says.
Not enlisting family support :Ask for the support of your spouse, parents, siblings, and children, but do it with open eyes. “Family interaction can be good or bad. It depends on how understanding the family is,” Dr. Baethge says. “A lot of times people get upset because their spouse or family doesn’t understand what they’re going through.”The cure for fibromyalgia this: Direct family members to any of a number of websites that can explain the disease, such as the, the , and the .
Feeling guilty :Don’t beat yourself up about being depressed, angry, frustrated, or scared.”It’s reasonable to become depressed,” says Dr. Baethge. “Any normal person who hurts all the time is going to feel that way.” And feeling guilty on top of being depressed is simply going to make the pain worse, he adds.
Taking life too seriously:“Humor is important,” Dr. Baethge says. “Do things that make you laugh or smile.” That could be as simple as watching a DVD that’s funny. And if your fibromyalgia pain prevents you from sitting through the entire show, watch it till you laugh, then pause it.
Not moving because it hurts too much :“Yoga, swimming, and walking have all been shown to be of benefit in managing chronic pain, and it’s really important for fibromyalgia,” Dr. Baethge says. “It’s hard to get people to buy into this because when they first try it, they hurt even more.”Some people even forgo fibromyalgia medication and try to get by on exercise alone to help with pain. “They tend to do pretty well,” Dr. Baethge says. “They’re high functioning.”