When it comes to pain management, fibromyalgia is a tough nut to crack. Part of that is the fact that it causes such widespread pain that seems to affect the entire body (though it’s actually located in 18 specific points). And part of it is the fact that not only do we not know what causes fibromyalgia, we don’t even know for sure why fibromyalgia causes pain.
So if you’re trying to manage the pain of fibromyalgia, often the basic things that people use to treat chronic pain diseases aren’t enough, which is where advanced pain management comes in. But what exactly is advanced pain management? And what are some advanced pain management techniques that might work for fibromyalgia?
What is Advanced Pain Management
On a basic level, advanced pain management is just what it sounds like it would be based on the name. It’s an effort to treat chronic pain that doesn’t respond to the traditional techniques doctors use to treat pain. Usually, pain management takes a pretty predictable path. First, your doctor will make a judgment of what is causing your pain by attempting to diagnose your condition.
Next, they will try to treat the underlying condition which causes the pain. That seems obvious, right? If you have a broken arm, the doctor will try to set the bone back and give you a cast, hoping that once your bone heals it will stop hurting.
But in the meantime, your pain isn’t going anywhere so the doctor will prescribe a series of medications to help dull the pain. Usually, this will involve an opioid-based painkiller at some point, because these are generally the most effective drugs for relieving pain.
Most of the time, this works. But when it comes to fibromyalgia, that all goes out the window. We don’t know how to cure the underlying condition in someone with fibromyalgia. So, we can’t aim to eliminate their pain the way we would with people with most other diseases. Instead, pain management for fibromyalgia takes the form of long-term alleviation of pain. We can’t cure the pain, so we just try to find a way to make the suffering as bearable as possible in the long term. That’s where advanced pain management comes in.
Advanced Pain Management Techniques for Fibromyalgia
In most cases, when you’ve exhausted the normal ways of treating pain because you have a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia, you’ll find yourself being referred to a pain specialist at some point. These are doctors who focus on the treatment and management of long-term pain. Usually, they work out of dedicated clinics with a team of other specialists.
Unlike general practitioners, pain management specialists try to create a plan tailored specifically for their patient. They can take into consideration numerous factors like the patient’s age, medical history, and what treatments their condition has been resistant to so far to develop a pain management plan that works for them using their expertise and the help of their team.
And many pain specialists employ a number of different techniques to help with the pain of fibromyalgia. Rather than simply using the types of drugs normally prescribed for fibromyalgia (Lyrica, Cymbalta, Savella), a pain specialist might employ techniques like mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, behavioral therapy, or myofascial massage.
That’s not to say that those traditional pain medications shouldn’t play a role in an advanced pain management plan. Any effective pain management plan should be based on the latest research and the expertise of your doctor. The point is to achieve results. You want to experience as little fibromyalgia pain as possible. So any method that your doctor feels might be effective is probably worth a try. And because pain specialists have seen so many patients dealing with chronic pain, they often have a better idea than most doctors about which therapies might be effective.
So when you consider that fibromyalgia is a serious condition that will probably require a specialized form of pain management, it may be worth seeing a pain management specialist. Always consult with your doctor before making any major medical decisions, but ultimately what you decide to do is up to you. You have to pursue the treatments that are best for you.
You can find a number of resources here that will help you find a pain specialist near you if you’re interested in pursuing your own advanced pain management plan.