Dealing With Chronic Pain
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized almost exclusively by chronic pain. Tender points on the body, deep muscular pain, and regular headaches are some of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Because there is no cure for the disorder, patients must seek ways to alleviate the symptoms. Whether you suspect you have fibromyalgia or have been diagnosed as having it, the next step should involve finding ways to deal with chronic pain.
Understanding Chronic Pain
There is a significant difference between chronic pain and acute pain. Acute pain is one that every human is familiar with. It describes the pain felt when you hit your little toe against the dresser. In most cases, acute pain comes on strong and leaves just as quickly. Chronic pain, on the other hand, lasts for more than a few hours or a few weeks. Not only characterized by its duration, chronic pain is also responsible for changes in the body’s chemistry. These changes can affect other areas of the sufferer’s life, bringing on additional symptoms such as low energy and mood disorders. Without treatment, it can begin to affect nearly every aspect of the victim’s life.
Fibromyalgia’s Chronic Pain Symptoms
Pain is at once the primary indication of fibromyalgia and the genesis of other assorted symptoms. Tender points on the body, chronic headaches, painful menstruation, and stiffness at certain times of the day are among the most common symptoms. These symptoms, however, can also lead to a variety of ancillary symptoms. These include:
- Memory problems
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Numbness in the extremities
- Sensitivity to external temperatures
- Sensitivity to noise and light
Though people with fibromyalgia must find ways of dealing with chronic pain, those ways need not include simply bucking up and bearing the pain. Science has yet to deliver a cure for the condition, but there are many treatments that have proven effective for a large percentage of sufferers. Some of these fall within the realm of medicine while others fall under the “natural” umbrella.
Anticonvulsants – Many doctors believe in prescribing anticonvulsants such as Lyrica to help treat the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia.
Antidepressants – SSRIs and SNRIs do not act as pain relievers in and of themselves, but they may address some of those chemistry changes chronic pain is known for. Cymbalta has proven particularly effective at treating fibromyalgia symptoms.
Pain relievers – Over-the-counter pain medication is sometimes ineffective when it comes to treating chronic pain. Doctors sometimes prescribe stronger medications such as Ultracet to help patients break out of the chronic pain cycle. Muscle relaxants, local injections, and cortisone can all be used to treat chronic pain.
Vitamin D – Though it has yet to stand out in clinical trials as being an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, many patients have reported anecdotal data that speaks to vitamin D’s benefits.
Acupuncture – While some regard acupuncture as a relic from ancient times, several studies have shown that this ancient Chinese medical practice can be very effective for short-term pain relief.
SAMe – Naturally produced by the human body, SAMe may play an important role in the body’s ability to fight pain. There is evidence that the supplement can help alleviate chronic pain and depression in those who take it.
Determining What’s Normal
If you’re dealing with chronic pain, you may want to figure out whether your symptoms are indicative of fibromyalgia or something else entirely. Memory problems, for instance, are closely associated with the disorder while also being symptomatic of head injury, dementia, and insomnia. Full-body pain is perhaps the most commonly reported symptom of fibromyalgia, but it is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other musculoskeletal conditions.
Whenever you are confronted with symptoms of chronic pain, your first stop should be a doctor. A great deal of worthwhile information can be found online, but relying on self-diagnosis could delay your ability to find reliable ways to treat your condition.