Current and Potential Treatments for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Treatments at a Glance

Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia face moderate to severe pain every day due to stiff and tender muscles. Managing the pain can be difficult, and what works for one person may not work for another. The main focus of fibromyalgia is a personalized pain management routine. Exercising, medications and relaxation techniques may provide relief from the chronic pain. Recent research suggests that implanting an occipital nerve stimulator (ONS), usually used to treat patients with migraines, may prove beneficial for those dealing with the intense symptoms of fibromyalgia.

The ONS is inserted into the base of the neck and works by changing the initiation patterns of the areas that produce a pain response. A study performed in Belgium proved the positive effects of ONS treatment on fibromyalgia symptoms. Patients with the medical condition were implanted with a lead and ONS was performed for six months. The subjects reported a significant reduction in pain and an improvement in their quality of life.

More on Fibromyalgia

Another study involved implanting fibromyalgia patients with the ONS device. One group received stimulation and the other group did not. Furthermore, the study was double-blind, i.e. neither the patients nor the researchers knew which subjects were receiving the treatment. This ensured that neither the participants nor the researchers could affect the results of the research. PET scans were used to observe changes in the brain, and the results showed that occipital nerve stimulation changed brain activity in the area that perceives pain.

The results showed a substantial decrease in the intensity of patients’ pain levels. After the initial trial, individuals with fibromyalgia received permanent implantation devices, and these individuals reported a decrease in pain even after six months. The patients also noted other improvements such as less fatigue and fewer trigger points.

Nerve Stimulation

The use of ONS is still experimental, but the results of these studies bring forth the exciting possibility of a new treatment option for people living with daily fibromyalgia pain. Many patients desire more non-invasive approaches to help control their pain. In line with this idea, antidepressants, pain medications and sleeping pills are a few effective pain medications. Tricyclic antidepressants work to boost the levels of calming neurotransmitters in the brain that can help relax muscles and increase endorphin levels. However, it is important to remember that medications that work for one person may not work for another, so you should work with your doctor to figure out what works best for you.

Aside from prescription medications, massages may help ease discomfort as long as it is gentle and pain-free. Let the masseuse know about your fibromyalgia if you are visiting a professional, or perform an at-home massage by rolling your sore, tight muscles over a tennis ball.


Exercise may also decrease pain. Working out on a regular basis helps strengthen muscles, maintain bone mass and reduce stress. It also helps control weight, which is important in diminishing fibromyalgia pain. Physical activity can also help raise the level of serotonin in the brain. Yoga, Tai Chi, warm water exercises, and other slow, low-impact exercises are recommended.

Many people with fibromyalgia endure stiff and painful joints and muscles, especially in the morning. A hot shower or bath can help relax your muscles and ease your pain. If you happen to have a hot tub at your disposal, taking a nice long soak can also work to alleviate your pain.

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