Fibromyalgia is a long-standing condition associated with widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and memory, sleep, and mood problems. Experts believe that this condition may exaggerate pain signals by altering how your brain and spinal cord respond to them.

In most cases, the symptoms may occur after an infection or injury. Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia to date, medications and other therapies help manage its symptoms. Amitriptyline is one of the medicines that are commonly used to manage it.

The article will detail more about this disease and how Amitriptyline can help.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that results in:

  • Tenderness
  • Cognitive and sleep problems
  • Pain in the bones and muscles
  • Fatigue

As this condition involves features common with other diseases, it may difficult to diagnose it. While it is challenging to manage it, the good news is that various treatment options can help you deal with it.

Causes

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Some studies suggest that it may be multifactorial. For instance, have a genetic predisposition for fibromyalgia followed by an injury or infection may trigger it.

Here are some causes believed to be responsible for fibromyalgia:

  • Genetic
  • Infections such as pneumonia and flu
  • Physical or mental trauma
  • Stress
  • Changes in the brain that results in an exaggerated response to pain
  • Autoimmune conditions

Besides, the following factors may increase your risk for fibromyalgia:

  • Stress
  • Illness such as a flu
  • Injury
  • An imbalance in brain chemicals
  • Being a woman

Symptoms and Signs 

The most important symptom of fibromyalgia is pain and tenderness at multiple locations. 

Your doctor will diagnose the condition if you have pain in four out of five pain regions as mentioned:

  • Left upper
  • Right upper
  • Left lower
  • Right lower
  • Low back

The pain is described as a constant dull ache in these regions.

Some other symptoms include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Dull ache in the lower belly
  • Bladder problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping for a long time without feeling fresh
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Dry eyes

Fibromyalgia fog 

Fibromyalgia can also cause emotional problems. The fuzzy feeling one may get with the condition is known as fibromyalgia fog.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Memory lapses
  • Inability to stay alert

Symptoms in Women

Fibromyalgia symptoms in women are more pronounced than in men. Some common signs and differences in symptoms are:

  • More severe pain
  • More widespread pain
  • Painful cycles

Fibromyalgia can also make the transition to menopause difficult.

Symptoms in Men

  • Emotional symptoms that affect the quality of life, relationships, and career
  • Men are more unlikely to see a doctor due to embarrassment, resulting in severe emotional symptoms

Fibromyalgia pain

A long-standing pain is the main indication of fibromyalgia. You can have pain at multiple places in bones, muscles, and other soft tissues.

Here are some characteristics of pain in different regions:

  • Chest pain: The pain feels similar to that of a heart attack. The pain is usually in the center, located in the cartilage that connects your ribs and breastbone. The pain may even extend to your arms and shoulders. The sensation of this chest pain could be stabbing, burning, or sharp.
  • Back pain: This is the commonest location for fibromyalgia pain. As this is a common symptom, its association with mental fog and pain in other regions may help confirm fibromyalgia.
  • Leg pain: This pain can feel similar to the stiffness of arthritis or soreness of a pulled muscle. The sensation could be burning, deep, or throbbing.

Common Treatment Types

If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, your doctor may advise a mix of self-care strategies and medications. The primary aim of the treatment is to improve general health and minimizing symptoms. No single treatment can manage all symptoms, and the benefit comes from the cumulative effect of different therapies.

Some common treatment options for fibromyalgia are:

Medications

Here are some medicines that can help:

  • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) such as Cymbalta and Savella may help manage fatigue and pain associated with fibromyalgia. Your doctor may also prescribe Amitriptyline (more on it in the next section). The muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine may help promote sleep.
  • Pain killers: Over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium may also help.
  • Anti-seizure medicines: Medicines used to treat epilepsy are also effective against pain. Medicine gabapentin and pregabalin are commonly used to manage fibromyalgia.

Therapies

A variety of effective therapies include:

  • Occupational therapy: It will help you perform certain tasks that would be less stressful for your body and make adjustments to your work.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist will help you improve strength, stamina, and flexibility. Water-based exercises are seen to be especially effective.
  • Counseling: This can help enhance your belief in your abilities. Your counselor may advise strategies to deal with stressful situations.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Here are some helpful actions:

  • Sleep hygiene: Getting good sleep will help manage fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. To get a good night’s sleep try and follow a healthy routine, such as sleeping on time and trying to wake up at the same time. It is also best to limit daytime napping.
  • Stress management: Experiment and figure out strategies to limit or avoid emotional stress and overexertion. Dedicate sometime in the day to relax. It is also a good idea to learn the art of saying “no” without feeling guilty about it. However, take small steps and do not try to change your routine entirely at once. You can also add stress management techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises.
  • Exercise regularly: Being active may hurt you more initially. But doing it will gradually improve your symptoms. Exercises such as swimming, water aerobics, swimming, and biking may help.

Also, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial. Try and add healthy foods to your diet, avoid tobacco products, and limit your caffeine intake.

Alternative medicine

Some therapies that are seen to be effective are:

  • Yoga and meditation
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Tai chi

Treating with Amitriptyline- How Does It Help And Work?

Amitriptyline belongs to the class of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. It increases the amounts of brain chemicals needed to maintain mental balance, serotonin and norepinephrine. It does so by preventing the reuptake of these chemicals by the brain’s cells, improving their level.

Various studies have shown that the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine are abnormal in people with fibromyalgia.

Dose

For adults: The dose may range from 40 mg up to 150 mg per day. It is usually taken in divided doses.

Of note, the medicine may take some time to show its effect. So, do not stop it on your own and consult your doctor before doing so. They will help you wean properly, avoiding any complications. 

Side Effects

Common side effects

  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Change in sex drive
  • Sexual problems
  • Unsteadiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Burning, tingling, or pain in hands and feet
  • Change in appetite or weight

Severe side effects

  • Fainting
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Severe rash or hives
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Slow speech
  • Numbness or weakness of a limb
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling of the tongue and face
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Muscle spasm in the neck, jaw, and back
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Final Thoughts

Fibromyalgia is a long-standing condition that results in pain at multiple locations in your body. The symptoms may be vague, and the condition may be challenging to diagnose.

But the good news your doctor can help you diagnose and manage it effectively. Amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, improves the levels of brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which are the causative factors for fibromyalgia.

If you have any of the mentioned symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor, and they will advise various therapies best suitable for you.

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