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Fibromyalgia: Possible Treatment Options

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Fibromyalgia Management

There is this constant pain everywhere. You are fatigued all the time, but whenever you finally get to lie down, you cannot seem to get a good night’s rest. The slightest events may trigger feelings of irritability or anxiety. This is life for many fibromyalgia patients.[1]

The typical framework for fibromyalgia management includes pharmaceuticals (anti-depressants, analgesics, and anti-epileptic medications), education, and lifestyle recommendations, including exercise and behavioral therapy.[2] Physical activity has been proven effective in promoting positive changes in brain areas that modulate pain perception.[3] While current protocols may be beneficial, there is much research being conducted to find alternative methods for reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, especially the chronic pain that is associated with this disorder.

Neurotransmitter Measurement and Restoration

Neurotransmitter restoration, particularly through diet, has been tested as a potential treatment in fibromyalgia patients. Serotonin and GABA are important in promoting restorative sleep, balancing moods, and managing pain, while norepinephrine and glutamate play key roles in memory and cognitive function. Low levels of these neurotransmitters are frequently found in fibromyalgia sufferers. Additionally, medications containing pregabalin (a derivative of GABA), serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors, are often used to maintain neurotransmitter levels and relieve fibromyalgia concerns.[4] Implementing a diet rich in amino acids, such as tryptophan, or supplementing with 5-hydroxytryptophan, has been found effective in improving sleep and, when combined with over the counter pain medication (NSAIDs), resulted in reduced pain. [5] Thus, we know that addressing imbalances in our neurotransmitters has the potential to assist patients with fibromyalgia.

Other approaches to managing this disorder that have been studied include hydrotherapy, meditation, yoga, and acupuncture.[6] Many studies have found that combination treatments may be the best option for fibromyalgia patients. Measuring neurotransmitter levels, however, may be the first step needed for effectively managing pain, poor memory, disrupted sleep, and mood concerns associated with fibromyalgia.

References

[1] Clauw DJ. (2014). Fibromyalgia: A Clinical Review. JAMA.311(15):1547-1555.
[2] Arnold, LM. et al. A Framework for Fibromyalgia Management for Primary Care Providers. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 87(5): 488 – 496.
[3] Jones, KD. (2016). Promoting physical activity in fibromyalgia. Pain Management 6(4): 321-324.
[4] Hauser W, Walitt B, Fitzcharles M, and Sommer C. (2014). Review of pharmacological therapies in fibromyalgia syndrome. Arthritis Research & Therapy 16(201).
[5] Silver DS and Gebler L. (2016). Nutritional Management of Fibromyalgia. Arch Med. 8(2).
[6] Lauche R, Cramer H, Hauser W, Dobos G, and Langhorst J. (2015). A systematic overview of reviews for complementary and alternative therapies in the treatment of the fibromyalgia syndrome. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015.

Clinical Contributor

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Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard graduated with honors from the University of California with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s Degree in Health and Nutrition Education. She also holds a Standard Designated Teaching Credential from the State of California, is a California state-certified Nutrition Consultant and a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Ramona has participated in nutrition education in both public and private venues, including high school and college presentations, radio and public speaking for the past 20 years. She is the owner of Radiance, a nutrition consulting company, the Director of Education for Sanesco International, and a medical technical writer.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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