If your doctor has ever told you that you may have fibromyalgia, or if you’ve been given prescription pills to treat the symptoms of this chronic disease, you’ll want to read this article.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, inflammatory condition affecting the muscles and joints of the body. In my opinion, this condition is a syndrome, meaning that it can present differently from person to person and has a variable clinical presentation. However, painful muscles, tightness in joints, headaches, insomnia, mild fever, fatigue, and depression are also some very common features of this condition.
It is also my view that this condition is frequently (but not always) a diagnosis of exclusion merely given to appease patients because the healthcare provider cannot find any evidence of a bonafide disease.
People with this condition are typically given antidepressants, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, or massages and are encouraged to attend group therapy. Although I don’t happen to be a big fan of passive care, some of its management tools, like massage and physical activity, remain high on my list for managing this condition. In my view, most of the other forms of care are either dangerous or could actually precipitate or reinforce the chronic pain you experience from fibromyalgia.
In my opinion, by far the best way to help people with this condition is to encourage them to become much more physically active despite any reluctance to do so. This reduces the need for passive care and places less attention on pain-focused behaviors.
Although this information has been known for quite some time, healthcare providers tend to ignore research and either give in to a patient’s demands or provide inappropriate care. Or maybe they are just too busy to read it. Either way, authoritative research clearly indicates that physical activity is the best way to manage this condition.
The same can be said for the new research report presented by an authority in this field, Dr. Winfried Hauser from the University of Munich in Germany.
According to Dr. Hauser, “There is no magic drug against fibromyalgia and, in my opinion, there will never be… Aerobic exercise is the most effective weapon we have; healthy people profit from continuous physical exercise, and so do patients with fibromyalgia.”
Leading a research team, Dr. Hauser looked at the results of many studies contained in a meta-analysis that pitted many current methods of treatment against each other for effectiveness and safety. According to these new research findings, there was no difference in clinical effectiveness between the drug and non-drug therapies in patients experiencing fibromyalgia.
The research team found that some drugs were only effective while they were being used, but only for short-term use. However, exercise and/or cognitive therapies were found to have a more lasting effect on symptoms in patients after one to two years.
There are several different forms of fibromyalgia that a person can experience, from mild to severe. Despite this, a regular exercise program consisting of aerobic activity, stretching, and breathing exercises should be instituted early in the management process.
In my view, the reliance on medications is not recommended unless a more severe case is being treated. At this point, a combined approach may be the most appropriate.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Goodman, A., “Aerobic Exercise ‘Most Effective Weapon’ for Fibromyalgia,” Medscape web site, June 19, 2014; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/827054.
Hauser, W., et al., “Comparative efficacy of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions in fibromyalgia syndrome: network meta-analysis,” Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases June 2013; 72: 955–962.