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There are new ways to help people suffering from fibromyalgia

DEAR DR. GOTT: After severe back pain and many different meds and treatments, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I took Cymbalta, which helped but it made me lethargic and depressed.

   I’m now taking Celebrex, which helped for a while, but now the pain in my lower back and hips is so bad that I cannot lie on my side.

   I am ready to give up. Do you have any advice?

DEAR READER: The pain of fibromyalgia is widespread and can be felt throughout the body.

Symptoms vary from person to person and can include joint stiffness, sleep disorders, fatigue, widespread pain and a great deal more.

Herein lies the problem, because every symptom can be tied to other disorders, making it difficult to diagnose.

There is no X-ray testing or laboratory work to confirm or rule out fibromyalgia.

Rather, the history a patient presents to his or her physician, coupled with a hands-on examination, will likely tell the story.

Treatment commonly begins with over-the-counter remedies such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen sodium, advancing to prescription medications such as gabapentin, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and narcotics.

The downside to narcotics is their addictive qualities, which appear to control one condition while replacing it with another damaging one.

Physical therapy and an exercise program might be an appropriate addition to more conservative methods.

Water aerobics, deep breathing exercises, massage, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, yoga and even counseling might teach a patient methods of successfully dealing with the constant pain.

There are options. Therefore, it is important that you enlist the services of a physician well versed in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Don’t give up.

The condition is an unpleasant, exhausting one but there is help. You sound ready to get to the bottom of this.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my health report, “Fibromyalgia.”

Others should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 check or money order to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167.

Peter Gott practiced medicine in Lakeville for 40 years.

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