Managing Fibromyalgia

Nonpharmacological treatment of fibromyalgia is also used to help alleviate the symptoms. Patient education plays an important role in minimizing the impact of fibromyalgia, notes the National Fibromyalgia Association. An effective patient self-management plan includes frequent exercise, proper sleeping habits and alternative therapies.

Cardiovascular exercise – The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week. While this may be difficult for people who are in pain, studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia who participate in exercise have decreased pain, improved mood and enhanced physical function (Peterson, 2007). Additionally, a 2008 study, reported by the Journal of American Physical Therapy Association also revealed that a frequent strength-training routine assisted the overall management of fibromyalgia symptoms (Brosseu et al, 2008).

Improving sleep – The Mayo Clinic reported that fibromyalgia patients should implement a sleeping routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Additional sleeping tips include avoiding caffeine and large meals before bed and keeping the sleeping area free of distractions.

Adjunctive therapies – People with fibromyalgia often utilize a variety of complementary therapies to help manage symptoms. These forms of treatment can also help to add to a patient’s sense of control over their disorder. Complementary therapies include a wide range of modalities to help manage pain, alleviate muscle stiffness and reduce stress (Wilke, 2010).

Alternative and Complementary Therapies
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychological support
  • Meditation and guided imagery
  • Acupuncture
  • Topical remedies for pain
  • Massage
  • Myofascial release
  • Supplementation
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Biofeedback