Having fibromyalgia might seem as if you just can’t get a break from the pain, which might include back pain. As many as two-thirds of people with chronic low back pain also suffer from fibromyalgia. In fact, more than 49 percent of people with fibromyalgia experience lower back pain. Back pain is actually so prevalent among fibromyalgia patients that it was once one of the symptoms medical experts looked for in making a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
There’s no doubt that having fibromyalgia is hard enough on its own, let alone when you experience back pain. However, it might make you feel a little better to know there is an explanation for the intensity of the pain you’re suffering from.
Both back pain and fibromyalgia belong to a group of conditions known as central hypersensitivity syndromes. Though the root causes of these two disorders are different, back pain might stem from a damaged vertebral disk — the pain experiences of the two disorders bear some similarities. Among them is the sense that these chronic pain conditions make you be on a “high alert” setting of sorts. And then, to top it off, the pain wears you down, resulting in fatigue, depression, and anxiety that make living with fibromyalgia and low back pain all the more draining.
One of the most important things is to get an accurate diagnosis of your low back pain. Lots of physicians who treat fibromyalgia can also assess your back pain’s possible culprits. But ask for a referral to a pain doctor if you have any concerns about your doctor’s ability to parse out the factors that lead to low back pain and prescribe the appropriate medical treatment.
5 Ways to Manage Fibromyalgia-related Low Back Pain
Pain medication is typically a constant part of fibromyalgia treatment plan, however, it often isn’t enough for most patients, particularly if back pain is involved. Putting together a multipart pain plan is essential. This is even more true if you require specific therapy for your back. Consider these additional tips to create a comprehensive treatment strategy that might combine traditional and alternative approaches:
- Lifestyle changes. Symptoms from low back pain and fibromyalgia might improve as you work on a healthier lifestyle. This includes changing your diet, increasing exercise, and losing weight if necessary.
- Mental health treatment. Things like anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping often affect fibromyalgia patients. However, these mental issues can actually exacerbate your pain. Comprehensive treatment strategies might include therapy and medication targeted to depression and anxiety.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapists can teach you how to move through your day more effectively and show you stretches to relieve low back pain and perhaps make living with fibromyalgia easier.
- Alternative treatment approaches. Options like acupuncture, biofeedback, and music therapy can help alleviate low back pain. Pain management doctors are well-versed in the complexity of pain treatment and will be open to any questions you may have about alternative approaches. Talking with your team about options you’re considering will also help you prevent any interactions between alternative treatments and prescription medications.
- Education. Understanding your condition and how it affects your body is essential. Talk with your medical team about the physiology of pain and the complex factors that affect your perception of pain when you are facing conditions related to hypersensitization.
When you’re suffering from both low back pain and fibromyalgia, you may feel as though you’re fighting two battles. However,a combination of therapies — some aimed at fibromyalgia, some aimed at the back pain, and some aimed at both — is more likely to bring you relief and live a happier life.
Published by Amelia Grant