Fibromyalgia is currently not a curable condition and treatment does not involve a single approach.
Rather, though trial and error, working with their consultant and/or GP, most people will find a combination of therapies which provide them with optimum relief of their symptoms. These therapies include medication, exercise, alternative therapies and lifestyle changes.
With the help of such therapies, many people are able to manage some of the symptoms leading to an increased level of function and improved quality of life. In fact, sufferers are often encouraged to carry on working and undertake regular exercise, as hard as this may be. Self-management has a large role to play in Fibromyalgia treatment and “pacing” is often key, whereby the sufferer learns to work within their limitations to avoid a flare up of symptoms.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done for me. Time and time again during this process you proved you understood what I was going through and really kept me going. It’ll be strange now not speaking to you regularly. You are so reassuring and always filled me with confidence that we’d succeed. And we did! Thank you again.” MB (£235,000 received), July 2018
These were developed to treat seizures in patients with neurological conditions such as epilepsy, but can also help relieve many types of pain including neuropathic pain. Both Gabapentin and Pregabalin are anticonvulsant drugs that have proven to be effective in treating pain in Fibromyalgia sufferers. However, the government and the medical profession are now taking a far more cautious approach to the prescribing of these drugs. See this article.
Although over-the-counter painkillers such as Paracetamol can help some people with Fibromyalgia, most will wish to add something stronger to their daily medication regime. Commonly, this will be Tramadol, an opioid painkiller, but as with Gabapentin and Pregabalin mentioned above, tighter regulation in the UK has meant that doctors have become more reluctant to prescribe it.
As a result of their symptoms, people with Fibromyalgia often struggle to sleep. This can be assisted with certain types of sleeping medication and/or advice on achieving a better and more refreshing night’s sleep, often referred to as sleep hygiene.
Many people with Fibromyalgia suffer with muscle stiffness which exacerbates their pain. Accordingly, they may find that a degree of pain relief can be achieved with a muscle relaxant medication. As a result of the sedative qualities of many muscle relaxants, the need for medication to aid sleep can often be reduced or dispensed with altogether.
Medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, SNRIs or SSRIs are often used to relieve pain. Such antidepressant medications work by balancing the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. Low levels of such chemicals are thought to be a factor in the cause of Fibromyalgia. Re-achieving an equilibrium can therefore make a significant difference to the widespread pain associated with Fibromyalgia. In addition, they often help to improve a sufferers sleep quality.
Vitamins B9 (Folic Acid) and B12
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in ensuring the normal function of the brain and the nervous system.
Folic acid, which is also known as vitamin B9 or folate, is most commonly associated with pregnant women, who take it as a supplement during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects in the developing child.
Research has demonstrated that the benefits of taking folic acid in conjunction with vitamin B12 were particularly beneficial to those diagnosed as suffering both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) and Fibromyalgia. It was also found that higher doses of these supplements led to a greater reduction in symptoms.
But a word of caution…it was also found that those who took folic acid and vitamin B12 in addition to daily doses of certain medications – Duloxetine, Pregabalin and opiate-based painkillers – benefitted less from taking the supplements. Despite that, doctors treating both ME and Fibromyalgia commonly explore with their patients ways of incorporating these supplements into their daily medication regime.
Pain Management Programmes
The idea behind pain management is to turn existing with chronic pain into living with chronic pain.
There is no one universal approach offered by pain management programmes, who instead have at their disposal a wide range of treatments and multi-disciplinary support, which to a certain degree they can use to tailor therapy to the individual. Whilst a programme will usually be coordinated by a consultant in pain medicine, the patient will also receive input from physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists.
As they cannot ‘cure’ the patient’s pain, the role of the pain clinic is best summarised as supporting a patient in developing self-help skills to control and relieve their pain. It is hoped that through these coping strategies, the patient will experience an overall improvement in their quality of life.
Most large hospitals run pain management programmes. In addition to the more common outpatient approach, a few centres are equipped to offer inpatient programmes. The advantage of inpatient pain management is that for a limited period, usually between two and four weeks, both the patient and the multi-disciplinary team are focused entirely on working together to develop coping strategies. This is often more difficult and therefore less successful when attending as an outpatient once a week over the course of a number of weeks or months.
BLB Solicitors have been hugely successful in arranging funding for clients to attend these residential programmes. However, we are also conscious of the potential for ‘crash and burn‘ following attendance on such a programme.
In addition to medication, in order to address the psychological aspects of the condition, people suffering Fibromyalgia will often be referred for psychological therapy, typically cognitive behavioural therapy.
“Andrew, I feel so lucky to have found you. What a difference you made! Let’s face it, with [previous solicitors] the claim was heading for the rocks. Thank you so much.” TR (£265,000 received), October 2018
As with so many aspects of Fibromyalgia, finding what works for you really is a case of trial and error. Common therapies that people have reported as being beneficial are physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and reflexology.
In terms of the psychological symptoms associated with the condition, cognitive behavioural therapy is usually beneficial. Being able to talk to people in the same position as you is also helpful and online support groups and forums have become invaluable to many people.
Before considering any form of alternative therapy, it is always best to discuss this with your doctor. You will almost certainly find them supportive, but they can steer you away from therapies that could prove harmful and may be able to recommend local practitioners.
“My doctor diagnosed Fibromyalgia after my road accident but my last solicitors really didn’t take me seriously. I eventually contacted BLB and Bruce Dyer looked after me. Bruce really understands Fibromyalgia and got the top specialists on board. It was a fight but we won. I will always recommend Bruce and BLB.” AK (£375,000 recovered), June 2018
Keep up to date with the latest developments relating to Fibromyalgia and chronic pain more generally through our topical and regularly updated Blog.
If your current solicitor is letting you down with their lack of understanding of your condition, why not speak in complete confidence to one of our specialist Fibromyalgia Solicitors? It won’t cost you anything and you really do have everything to gain. Call us on 01225 462871 or complete the contact form at the foot of this page.