Managing Fibromyalgia

Woman swimming.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes pain in specific points on the body, stiffness, and constant tiredness (fatigue). But it doesn’t have to keep you from doing what you enjoy. You can feel better. You and your healthcare provider can work together to develop a plan.

Take medicines as directed

You may be given medicines to help reduce pain and improve sleep.

Several medications are approved to treat fibromyalgia. Two were originally designed to treat depression. They are duloxetine, and milnacipran. A third, called pregaballin, was developed to treat nerve pain. Other medicines include pain relievers such as acetaminophen or stronger opioids. These may be prescribed short term.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to relieve pain. These include ibuprofen and naproxen.

Get exercise

Gentle exercise can help lessen your pain. Try these tips:

  • Choose activities that are gentle on your joints, such as walking, biking, and swimming or other water exercises.

  • Don’t push yourself too hard. Build up your strength and endurance slowly, over time.

  • Stick to it. For the most relief, exercise should become part of your daily life.

Get a good night’s rest

To help you get more sleep, try the tips below:

  • Sleep only in a bed, not on a couch or chair.

  • Don’t watch TV, read, or work in bed.

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

  • Try not to take naps.

  • Don’t use alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco for at least 3 hours before going to bed.

  • Don’t drink fluids in the evening to avoid having to get up to urinate.

Other things you can do

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia. But stress, poor eating habits, and extra weight can make it worse. These tips may help you feel better:

  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Learn ways to reduce or manage the stress in your life.

  • Ask your healthcare provider for resources to help you make changes. Or check out the resources below.