Finding What Works
Because fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and chronic fagitue syndrome (ME/CFS) are not well understood, different people get different results from the same treatment. The most important approach is talking to your doctor about all of your symptoms and finding a customized treatment regimen that works for you.
Typically, the most successful treatment regimens include multiple approaches, which may include: drugs, complementary/alternative therapies, nutritional supplements, dietary changes, and exercise. Some people also opt for experimental protocols.
People with FMS and ME/CFS frequently are sensitive to medications and have adverse reactions to them, so experts recommend using the lowest possible dose. Because these conditions share some physiological aspects, many of the same drugs are used for both of them.
Doctors prescribe a wide variety of drugs for these conditions, including:
- Sleep medications
- Pain killers
- Anxiety drugs
Learn more about drug treatments:
It's becoming more common for people with these conditions to turn to complementary/alternative treatment regimens to help them manage certain symptoms. These treatments may include:
- Bodywork, such as massage, Rolfing, reiki and the Bowen Technique
- Mind-Body treatments, such as biofeedback, hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Physical therapy
Some of these therapies have scientific evidence showing that they work for one or both of these conditions, while others do not. It's important to work with your doctor and chose therapists wisely.
- What to Look for in a Chiropractic, Massage or Physical Therapist
- How to Find a Complementary/Alternative Practitioner
A lot of people with FMS and ME/CFS use supplements either in addition to or as a replacement for medications. While scientific evidence of their effectiveness is limited, we have a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that they can help some people.
Some people think that because supplements are "natural" that they are risk free. That's not the case -- supplements can cause side effects and have negative interactions with drugs or other supplements. It's important that you research what you're taking and talk to your doctor and pharmacist about it.
Just as many of us with these conditions are sensitive to drugs, we can be sensitive to supplements. Here's what you need to know before starting a supplement regimen:
As with other treatment and management approaches, there's no one diet that works for everyone with FMS or ME/CFS. It takes experimentation to find out what, if any, foods exacerbate or improve your symptoms.
Pain, fatigue and other symptoms can make it hard for you to keep healthy foods on hand and cook meals. This article can give you some ideas for eating healthy in spite of your illness:
It Takes Experimentation
When you're desperate for effective treatments, it can be discouraging to try several things that don't work. Because we're all so different, however, we each need to find the combination of treatments that work for us.
For more on condition-specific treatment options, see: