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Young People and Fibromyalgia

What treatment is there?


Treatment is aimed at reducing the pain and other symptoms so that you can regain the best quality of life possible. It is possible to get life successfully back on track, either with symptoms disappearing or with them well under control. The most successful form of treatment involves a group of specialists working together to teach both you and your parents how to manage your symptoms and your daily activities. It is essential that both you and your parents become active members of the team and work together with the specialists.


The team of specialists usually includes:




The rheumatologist or pain specialist may prescribe you medication to help you manage your symptoms. Doctors tend to be cautious about giving medication to young people. However, your doctor may decide that you need help coping with certain symptoms like pain or getting to sleep. The most common medications used for treating fibromyalgia work to reduce pain, relax muscles and encourage sleep. One type of these medications is called tricyclic antidepressants. This doesn’t mean your doctor thinks you have depression. These only treat depression at high doses. At low doses they simply reduce pain and encourage sleep. You may experience side-effects like a dry mouth, morning sleepiness or dizziness with these drugs. However, these side effects should get less or disappear after several weeks.


It is possible that you may develop depression due to living with chronic pain, but this will need to be tackled separately




A physiotherapist will work with you to set out an exercise programme including stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercise. At first, exercise can seem like the last thing you want to do when you are in pain. However, it is very important because muscles that are not exercised become stiff, weak and tight, which then causes more pain. Stretching will stop your muscles tightening up and becoming shorter. Strengthening will keep your muscles strong. Aerobic exercise, like walking or cycling, will keep your lungs and heart healthy. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase over time, working at a pace that is right for you.




Anyone coping with pain needs to learn coping skills and how to deal with emotional issues straight away and effectively. Having a psychologist involved in your treatment does not mean that the doctor thinks that your symptoms are all in your head or are simply due to stress. A psychologist is there to teach you and your parents about fibromyalgia and ways that you can manage the pain and fatigue. Often they use a therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This looks at how your thoughts, feelings and actions go together, and how your thoughts and emotions can be barriers to what you want to do. It is learning about those barriers, facing the challenges they present and tackling the fear you may feel. It is also learning to be creative in the way you think, being flexible and doing things differently, problem-solving and developing good communication skills.

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