Finding a balance with medication for Fibromyalgia. (Natural & Pharmaceutical)


I realised very early on that there is no quick fix when trying to find a balance with medications for Fibromyalgia. There is no manual for what works best as Fibromyalgia is very much an illness that is different in everyone. It is very much trial and error and a long ongoing journey of discovering what works best for you and your symptoms. 

This is my medication journey, you may find similarities. Please never stop taking any prescribed medication based on my experience or views on it, always seek medical advice. 

A crystal ball would be an asset when you are first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia so you can see how this illness will wax and wane continuously. I never realised this initially, I wrongly presumed that it would be an illness that you could pop a pill and find a balance to regain health. 


Daily, monthly, yearly it presents differently and you have to understand this and allow yourself to grow organically in whatever direction it takes you and be prepared. 

You have to stay one step ahead of Fibromyalgia. 


Back in 2013, my Doctor was amazing. Once the hospital had given their diagnosis I was handed back to the care of my family doctor and we discussed treatments. 

I was given a photocopy hand out to read about the illness and also listed what medication was widely used to treat it. The doctor and I discussed that as I was a Holistic Therapist at the time I would also want to take a natural approach. I would have a read, do some research on the medications and make a further appointment. 

Pergabalin (Lyrica) was one of the medications mentioned. It is used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and anxiety. The more I read about this medication the more I knew this was not for me. I was a single mother of five children and there was no way I was subjecting myself to a number of side effects that came with this. 

Gabapentin was also researched and also struck off my list. Again this is a medication used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and restless legs.

The side effects of both medications outweighed for me the benefits to ease the pain.

It was hard to determine if some symptoms were fibromyalgia or due to my blood results showing a very low level of Vitamin D so the doctor prescribed Cholecalciferol (VitD3)

Antidepressant medication can also help to relieve pain with fibromyalgia. They boost the levels of certain chemicals that carry messages to and from the brain, known as neurotransmitters. Low levels of neurotransmitters may be a factor in fibromyalgia, and it's believed that increasing their levels may ease the widespread pain associated with the condition. I started on antidepressant medication back in 2017 when my marriage broke down. I remain on this medication now, I take 20mg Escitalopram (Cipralex).

Initially, I was taking paracetamol or co-codamol with Ibuprofen for the pain but the doctor recommended I change from codeine to Tramadol.

Tramadol and codeine are both opiates and narcotics prescribed for moderate pain. Codeine is derived from the poppy plant like other narcotics, including morphine, heroin, and opium. Tramadol, on the other hand, is synthetic, though it is similar to codeine. Both these drugs are less potent than other opiates, which means their potential for addiction and withdrawal are lower. That doesn't mean they're safe, however. Both can be physically and psychologically habit-forming but the doctor believed Tramadol was showing better results for fibromyalgia.

This medication was also supported with heat therapy from hot water bottles, deep heat rubs, and heat patches.  

It was never really a balance, I would be maxed up on Tramadol to perform my day to day requirements of work then on days off I would crash and cry in more pain. 

Physiotherapy intensified pain but I found it beneficial as they referred me to have cortisone injections in my shoulder for pain relief and also hydrotherapy (Heated pool physiotherapy).

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) was not for me either as I really did not get on well with the counsellor's approach to holistic mental health. (Two therapists together in different departments can clash on views!) 

Eventually, I had to give up working and was placed on sick leave. 

Migraines were not new to me but they intensified tenfold with Fibromyalgia. The pain from this impacted the pain of fibromyalgia. Head pain made it difficult to relax and so the stress intensified Fibromyalgia pain.  The co-codamol I was using was making me horrendously constipated and this was also increasing symptoms of fibromyalgia and IBS. 

We decided to try and tackle the migraines and cluster headaches. I was started on Sumatriptan (Imigran) This had a good result, not amazing but it did help. 

The doctor also suggested I try Topiramate (Topamax) It is a drug used for epilepsy and migraines but it was having great results with fibromyalgia. Topamax (topiramate), is an anticonvulsant that reduces brain activity. With brain scans showing enhanced activity in interoceptive and other brain regions that modulate pain in both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome,  the idea of reducing some brain activity makes sense.

I absolutely hated this medication. For the first time in my life, I felt worthless and suicidal, I was lucky that I recognised this as an alien emotion to me. I had been through some bad times and dark days but never had I felt suicidal so I knew it was the new medication. The doctor stopped this medication promptly and thankfully my usual emotions returned.

There is possibly not a natural supplement or herb that I have not tried at some stage. For many people, they work wonderful yet for me, no single supplement or herb was shown to be a wonder treatment. I can fully assure you I have tried some wacky mushrooms with exotic names and some spicy herbs that promise you the world yet just hurt when you burp.

Tumeric, done that also, no great improvement, same with magnesium.

They are not cheap and there was no way as a single parent on sick pay that I had the finance to throw at treatments that were not giving great results. 

The only supplements I now take are a Multivitamin and with a probiotic included. (These are good for your digestive system) 

My Doctor and I have always felt that with my symptoms I would benefit from Amitriptyline. This works by helping to increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. These are low in Fibro and are needed for pain control as well as lots of other things. Amitriptyline can help you get to sleep, help improve the quality of your sleep and help relax your muscles. Sadly for me, it also interacts with the antidepressant that I am currently taking. I am not prepared to come off Escitalopram (Cipralex) in order to see. 

Gentle Aromatherapy Massage worked wonders and I was starting to find benefit from this, then I became unwell with prediabetes. This is a contraindication to massage so I had to stop having massages. 

I have tried many different lotions, heat-inducing ones, aromatherapy ones and also CBD Lotion  that was a great mix of beneficial relaxing aromatherapy and also CBD oil. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a product that’s derived from cannabis. It’s a type of cannabinoid, which are the chemicals naturally found in marijuana plants. Even though it comes from marijuana plants, CBD doesn’t create a “high” effect or any form of intoxication, that’s caused by another cannabinoid, known as THC. 

This is legal here in the UK but you will have to check with your own country and state laws as I know they vary. 

I very much advocate scheduled rests during the day,  a good mattress designed for chronic pain and lots of aids to help with fibromyalgia.

Eventually, tramadol stopped working for me, I never really grasped this at the time but looking back I was taking strong pain medication regularly but I was still very much in pain. 

When first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I was initially put on eight tablets a day (400mg) It worked for me and enabled me to continue to work, but the crash on my days off was huge. After going on long-term sickness I was proud to manage my illness so much better, I halved this dosage, then again after another period. This was purely my personal choice nothing to do with side effects of anything besides knowing the effects that strong medication has on your liver and kidneys, but I was still in pain and began to have bad side effects when I missed a dose.

I decided to wean myself off Tramadol January 2017 as I had been on them for a few years. Read How I became Tramadol free with scones This was tough but worthwhile for me. Around this time I reached out for a more natural approach to medication so looked into oral CBD oil and also CBD Patch. Using this with daily meditation worked well during the summer months. I prefer the patch but it is more expensive and this version is not yet available to ship to the UK. 

I never ruled out needing stronger pain medication and I am glad I kept an open mind as now Autumn is here the pain levels are raging.

If I had to list what actual medications I use currently (Autumn 2017):

Everyday

  • 20mg Escitalopram (Cipralex) daily Doctor prescribed
  • Paracetamol & Ibuprofen Buy in the UK in the chemist 25p
  • CBD Oil 4 drops under my tongue daily. CBD Brothers £21.95 lasts a month
  • Multivitamin with probiotic Buy in the UK in the chemist £7.99 lasts 3 months

Occasional

  • 500mcg Cholecalciferol (VitD3) every three weeks Doctor prescribed
  • Cortisone injections at the doctors directly into the area of pain every few months.

  • 100mg Tramadol  Doctor prescribed
Or but not taken together at the same time and also can't take paracetamol as well as Co-codamol
  • Co-codamol (Codeine Phosphate 8 mg, Paracetamol 500 mg) Buy in the UK in the chemist £2.29

  • Sumatriptan 50mg Doctor prescribed
I do have other medication but that is for Asthma so I have not included it here. 

Again I will reiterate, Please never stop taking any prescribed medication based on my experience or views on it, always seek medical advice. 

What do you find beneficial for treating Fibromyalgia?

If you enjoyed my blog why not subscribe to my blog and get new posts delivered directly to your email? Subscribe option is at the top of the page and I promise it does not spam or share with third parties.

Love and gentle hugs to you all

Ness xx



Comments

Popular Posts