Fibro Patient Education & Support is a Chicago organization devoted to spreading awareness of fibromyalgia and providing education through cable television. In this four-part series, Founder Necie Edwards offers tips on how to feel better with fibromyalgia.
Dealing with chronic pain can drag you down physically and emotionally; it can make your quality of life much less than it should be.
Sometimes we need additional professional healthcare advice. Here are some suggestions that you may want to talk about with your provider:
See a pain clinic. There are pain clinics all over the world that deal in chronic pain. Besides medications, they use several different modalities and therapies that provide you with the best way to handle your specific pain. Pain clinics don’t have to be the last resort therapy you choose. They have a lot to offer and may be one of the first things you think about when you have to consider a chronic pain management.
Try antidepressants. Even though you may not be depressed, certain medications for depression have been associated with chronic pain. They include some of the older antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants, which are used more for chronic pain than they are for depression. They have some side effects but, if you can tolerate them, they will be excellent for the pain and will help you sleep better.
Try anticonvulsant therapy. Many medications used for seizures also play a role in chronic pain syndromes. One of them is Neurontin or gabapentin, which is in common use for those who have chronic pain due to diabetic neuropathy. This kind of treatment works best on nerve pain. Ask your doctor.
Try a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants address pain that is associated with spasm of the muscles. They not only prevent tension in the muscles but they address relaxation, which is something you especially need when dealing with chronic pain. Muscle relaxants can cause sedation so don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how you the drug affect you. Ask your doctor.
Think about hyperbaric oxygen. If your pain is secondary to poor circulation and lack of oxygen to the tissues, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can improve this type of pain. It delivers oxygen under high pressure so that more oxygen reaches the vital tissues. Pain from diabetic ulcers or ulcers from a lack of circulation can also heal better from this type of therapy.
Try physical therapy. Physical therapists can evaluate your pain and can help you through tailored exercise to help you control your pain and strengthen your body. Physical therapists can teach you ways to get ahold of your pain without taking medications. It usually involves exercises that loosen muscle tension and increase muscle strength around arthritic joints.
Use a TENS Unit. This stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It involves overriding the pain signals with electrical signals applied to the affected area. You can wear it as much as you need to without having to take medications. TENS units are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at a medical supply store or over the internet without a prescription.
See a psychotherapist. Various kinds of psychotherapy can help you cope with chronic pain. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you reframe your thoughts so you don’t see your pain in such a negative light and encourage positive thinking that changes your perception of your life as a result of pain, thereby improving your quality of life.
Get a nerve block. If a certain area is in pain, an anesthesiologist can give you a nerve block that can relieve the pain for several days or weeks. This can be just the relief from pain you need to live a healthier life—at least for a while. Sympathetic nerve blocks can be used for things like reflex sympathetic dystrophy in which a body part is in extreme pain despite having undergone a minor injury. Ask your doctor.
Consider medical marijuana. This is legal in many states and one of the best uses for medical marijuana is to treat chronic pain. Your doctor will be able to prescribe it for you for times when the pain feels out of control. Medical marijuana isn’t just for people with cancer pain. It is also for people who suffer from chronic pain of any type. Ask your doctor.
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Fibro Patient Education and Support is focused on providing programs that educate patients and caregivers about Fibromyalgia, including causes, symptoms, treatments, and how it interacts with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, migraine, insomnia, multiple chemical sensitivity and Gulf War Syndrome.