Because fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are so similar, they share many treatments. These include:
- Exercise therapy. Steady, gradual exercise is typically recommended. Patients may use a combination of aerobic, strength training and flexibility exercises. Experts such as physical therapists may devise an appropriate exercise program, and teach patients how to recognize when they should be active and when they need to rest.
- Medications. Drugs may be used to treat pain, depression, fatigue and other symptoms. Such medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin), analgesics and antidepressants. One drug, an anticonvulsant, has been approved specifically to treat fibromyalgia. Sometimes medication may be causing symptoms, so it's good to talk to your doctor about possible side effects of the drug.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. This treatment has been shown to help fibromyalgia and CFS patients cope with their symptoms. This therapy helps patients stay positive and increase activity.
- Stress management and relaxation therapy. Classes, support groups and other methods can help patients reduce stress and insomnia, both of which can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. Biofeedback (in which patients use their minds to control symptoms in their bodies) and massage therapy also can help.
If you experience chronic pain or fatigue, consult your physician. Diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce symptoms associated with these syndromes.
Reviewed by Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA