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Coping with Fibromyalgia Pain: From Prescription Painkillers to Alternative Pain Management

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Although more than 5 million American adults suffer from fibromyalgia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists still do not know what causes this disorder.  Fibromyalgia is a common source of chronic pain and disability that causes many patients to have difficulty managing work and other daily activities.  Although prescription opiates are commonly prescribed to manage fibromyalgia pain, they can lead to opiate dependence and dangerous consequences.  Finding alternative pain management techniques is beneficial to prevent prescription painkiller abuse among patients with fibromyalgia.

Using Prescription Painkillers to Cope with Fibromyalgia Pain

Fibromyalgia causes a range of symptoms, with many people experiencing a fluctuation in symptom severity throughout the day or over several weeks.  Common symptoms include:

  • Stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Chronic muscle spasms
  • Muscle pain or tightness
  • Headaches (including migraines)
  • Numbness or tingling feelings in the hands and feet
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Fatigue and decreasing energy
  • Painful menstrual periods and other problems with pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Problems with memory or thinking abilities (often called “fibro fog”)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Feeling as though your hands and feet are swollen

The Food and Drug Administration has approved several medications to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  In particular, certain types of antidepressants can help.  However, only a limited number of fibromyalgia patients experience relief with these drugs.  After other medications have failed, many people with fibromyalgia turn to prescription painkillers to manage their chronic pain symptoms.
Although prescription opiates can be beneficial in the short term, they have several problematic long term consequences.  First, opiate painkillers may become less effective over time.  Patients often require higher and higher dosages to achieve the same effect.  Additionally, prescription opiates have a high addiction potential.  Taking prescription painkillers to manage chronic, daily pain can quickly escalate into a serious problem with opiate dependence.  Need more of the drug to cope with pain, constantly monitoring levels of pain pills, “doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions, or feeling defensive about your pain pill use may be signs that opiate dependence is a problem for you.

Overcoming Addiction to Prescription Opiates When You Have Fibromyalgia

One of the most effective interventions for opiate dependence is rapid opiate detox.  This form of detox quickly cleanses lingering opiates from your body and brain.  Most importantly, it occurs in a full service, accredited hospital under the supervision of medical professionals with decades of experience in addiction medicine.  This is particularly relevant for people with fibromyalgia.  The Waismann Method center takes an individualized approach to rapid opiate detox, meaning that your medical needs are carefully considered before a treatment protocol is agreed upon.  This ensures patient safety and comfort during the detox process and throughout supportive aftercare.

Alternative Pain Management Techniques for Fibromyalgia

Prescription painkillers simply aren’t a good long-term solution for managing fibromyalgia pain.  Fortunately, there are other pain management techniques with scientific evidence to back them up:

  • Therapeutic massage.  Massage alleviates muscle tension, boosting circulation and causing your body to release natural painkillers.  Additionally, therapeutic massage may benefit your sleep, causing lower symptom flare-ups throughout the day.
  • Biofeedback.  Scientists now know that your brain can actually control your heart rate, blood pressure, and even pain levels without your conscious awareness.  Biofeedback is a technique that allows you to monitor vital signs.  With practice, you can train your brain to control the fibromyalgia pain.
  • Mindfulness.  Mindfulness meditation has been consistently linked with lower chronic pain and improved mood.  This form of meditation involves attending to the moment and accepting painful feelings rather than trying to fight them off.
  • Acupuncture.  Placement of tiny needles in specific locations throughout the body actually increases blood flow and causes a release of natural painkillers, successfully reducing fibromyalgia pain.


Fibromyalgia. Arthritis Types.  Arthritis.  Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on May 12, 2015

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