Fibromyalgia Nerve Pain Relief
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with a wide variety of symptoms, the most common of which is widespread pain. People with fibromyalgia can suffer from various types of pain but one of the most severe and difficult to treat is nerve pain.
Nerve pain, also known as neuropathy, can cause a range of unpleasant sensations including burning, stabbing, tingling or numbness. It can also make it hard to know exactly where your hands and feet are, leading to a loss of coordination.
One of the most significant problems with nerve pain is that it does not always respond to traditional painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. This means that in many cases stronger drugs or alternative treatment options are necessary.
Here are some of the most popular options for fibromyalgia nerve pain relief.
Although nerve pain is difficult to treat with regular painkillers, there are several drugs that can offer some relief.
Gabapentin (Neurontin) is best known as an anti-seizure drug, but it is also effective in the treatment of nerve pain. Most people tolerate gabapentin well, but some of the most common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Mood changes
- Swollen arms or legs
- Blurred vision
- Erectile dysfunction
- Weight gain
- Memory loss
- Increased risk of infections
Pregabalin (Lyrica) is a similar drug to gabapentin. It can be used to treat epilepsy, anxiety and nerve pain. Its side effects are similar to those of gabapentin.
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is an antidepressant, but can also be used to relieve fibromyalgia nerve pain. Some of the most common side effects of duloxetine include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Sleep problems
- Sexual dysfunction
Amitriptyline (Elavil) is another antidepressant that can be used to control nerve pain and may also help prevent migraines. Its side effects include:
- Difficult urination
All of the above medications can take several weeks to work, so if you have been prescribed one of them, you will not experience immediate relief. Strong painkillers such as opioids can be used in the meantime or to relieve breakthrough pain, but should not be used regularly due to the risk of addiction.
Capsaicin is a compound extracted from chili peppers. It comes as a cream that can be applied directly to painful areas and works by blocking pain signals in the nervous system. Capsaicin cream can cause skin irritation and burning, so try it on a small area of skin first and do not use too much at once.
Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It uses fine needles placed at specific points on the body to relieve pain and a variety of other symptoms.
According to traditional theory, acupuncture works by rebalancing yin and yang and helping a substance known as qi to circulate around the body. However, modern research has shown that it influences the central nervous system to block pain signals and releases natural painkilling chemicals called endorphins.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Practices such as mindfulness and meditation will not take away fibromyalgia nerve pain, but they can make it easier to deal with. They teach you to become more aware of sensations within your body, so you can learn to manage your symptoms better on a day-to-day basis.
There are a multitude of reasons to quit smoking if you have fibromyalgia — for starters, it can make your fibro symptoms even worse.
Mindfulness and meditation are also extremely relaxing and may help relieve stress, anxiety and depression as well as alleviate nerve pain.
Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can also be useful for managing neuropathy. Like mindfulness and meditation, talking therapies can help you learn coping strategies and ways of managing your pain more effectively.
CBD and Medical Cannabis
Although cannabis has been illegal for many years, it is now becoming recognized for its pain-relieving properties and is being legalized in more and more places all the time. However, medical cannabis is subject to strict prescribing guidelines and may not be readily available depending on where you live.
If you live somewhere where cannabis is illegal, you could still try CBD. CBD can be extracted from cannabis or hemp and does not contain the intoxicating compound, THC. This means that CBD is legal in most places around the world. It is becoming well-known as an effective anti-inflammatory and painkiller.
Fibromyalgia nerve pain may also be relieved by making some simple changes to your diet. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. You could also try adding more anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger and turmeric to your cooking.
At the same time, try reducing your intake of foods that are known to make fibromyalgia worse. These include:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Processed foods
You may find it helpful to consult a dietitian who can offer guidance about how to eat a fibro-friendly diet while still getting all the nutrients you need.
Exercise is one of the best therapies for fibromyalgia in general. However, it is important not to overdo it. Regular, gentle exercise is best and you should stop immediately if you notice an increase in pain. Activities such as walking, swimming and yoga are great choices, but anything you enjoy doing will help.