How to Find The Best Fibromyalgia Specialist For You

Choosing a Fibromyalgia Specialist

Nearly 1 in 50 Americans has Fibromyalgia. Because of the dramatic prevalence of this chronic pain condition, many people are in search of Fibromyalgia specialists that can help them to treat and eliminate this painful condition.

Fibromyalgia typically produces widespread pain throughout the body, muscles and joints, and dramatically reduces the activity levels of people suffering from it. As well, many Fibromyalgia suffers often experience depression which is an added layer of misery.

In most cases, general practitioner physicians refer patients to specialists when they suspect that the patient is suffering from Fibromyalgia. Oftentimes Fibromyalgia patients will be referred to rheumatologists because these specialists treat autoimmune diseases and common pain disorders.

Let’s Take a Look at Some of The Most Common Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Besides widespread body pain, Fibromyalgia can also cause individuals to experience:

Fibromyalgia Common Symptoms

  • fatigue
  • sleep disturbances
  • depression
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • fibro fog- an inability to concentrate
  • tingling in the feet and fingers
  • tender areas that are painful to touch
  • hypersensitivity to cold or heat and chronic headaches

The Difficulty of Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia can be especially difficult to diagnose mainly because it resembles other medical conditions. Joint pain is often mistakenly diagnosed as arthritis, for example. Lupus is another condition that is often mistaken for Fibromyalgia. In addition to this, the origins of Fibromyalgia are still not well understood. On top of that, different Fibromyalgia sufferers manifest different symptoms in different amounts.

This makes it especially complex to accurately diagnose. For that reason, it is especially important to find a specialist that is expert in dealing with Fibromyalgia patients.

Diagnostic Criteria For Fibromyalgia

The primary criteria for the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is that patients are experiencing pain in all of the four quadrants of their body, for a duration of at least three months, with at least 11 of the 18 tender points in the body being sore or painful. This is typically how a medical specialist will determine whether the patient is suffering from Fibromyalgia. Additional follow-up tests are sometimes required to provide further confirmation.

Finding the Best Fibromyalgia Specialist

Fibromyalgia Specialist Overview

While a general practitioner is often equipped to treat individuals suffering from Fibromyalgia, it is often advisable to seek out specialists that can address specific symptoms. Your primary care physician may refer you to a neurologist because Fibromyalgia has been linked to increased blood flow to portions of the brain that are implicated in the control of pain.

Individuals who experience irritable bowel syndrome may be referred to a gastroenterologist or a urologist to help address those issues.

Physiotherapists may also be used to address muscle and joint stiffness. Physical therapy can help Fibromyalgia sufferers learn specific exercises intended to relieve stiffness and limited flexibility, enabling them to regain some of their mobility.

As well, your physician may be inclined to refer you to alternative practitioners like hypnotherapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists. All of these certified professionals can be utilized in combination to help reduce or even eliminate some of the painful symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

In order to find the best combination of treatments, it may be necessary to test some of them out. While going to an acupuncturist may never have crossed your mind prior to you contracting Fibromyalgia, it may be worth investigating its use, despite any reservations you might have.

As well, massage therapy may have seemed to you to be an indulgent practice, but once you begin experiencing the muscle stiffness and soreness of Fibromyalgia, working with a licensed massage therapist could begin to seem a worthwhile alternative remedy to the pain you are experiencing.

Let’s Take a Look at Some of The Specialists That Treat Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Specialist Deep Dive

Neurologists

Research studies have begun to demonstrate a deeper connection between Fibromyalgia and the human brain. For this reason, neurologists are often utilized by Fibromyalgia sufferers to get a deeper insight into their particular medical case. Neurologists will frequently conduct MRIs and other tests to help determine the proper course of treatment.

Psychologists and Psychiatrists

It is well known that in the recent past people that complained of chronic body pain were often disbelieved or not taken seriously. We now know that when people complain of chronic pain they have to be taken seriously. As well, there is a severe emotional burden associated with all chronic pain conditions. For that reason, many times Fibromyalgia sufferers look to psychotherapists to receive counseling. This can mentally equip them with the resilience to confront their medical problems.

Psychiatrists are also able to prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, which used in conjunction with some of the other treatment modalities we have described, could be an effective integrated solution to Fibromyalgia pain.

Massage Therapists

As we have previously alluded to, working with a massage therapist and receiving deep tissue massage can be beneficial to Fibromyalgia sufferers. The human body’s circulation system is healthfully stimulated by massage. One particular type of massage called neuromuscular massage uses practices from shiatsu and acupressure massage in tandem. The person being massaged feels slow strokes alternating with more direct pressure that can help to alleviate tension in the muscles.

Acupuncturists

Acupuncture can also be another effective tool in your arsenal. Western medicine hypothesizes that insertion of needles into specific areas of the body releases pain-relieving neurotransmitters called endorphins. Some people who experience chronic pain report that a single acupuncture session relieves pain for weeks at a time.

Nutritionists

Working with a nutritional therapist can be another effective way of managing the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Taking a long hard look at your diet with the assistance of a certified nutritional expert, the professional may be able to identify poor eating habits that are contributing to the symptoms you are experiencing. They may walk you through a food elimination challenge, which is the process of eliminating certain foods from your diet to see if their removal has a positive effect on your symptoms. This is a superb way of identifying if your condition is aggravated by certain foods that you had no idea were even bad for you.

Pain Management Specialists

Since Fibromyalgia causes such widespread pain it makes common sense to use a pain management specialist to help address some of these terrible symptoms. Pain management specialists are able to prescribe medications as well as create treatment regimens customized to your own experience of Fibromyalgia. Some of the techniques that pain management practitioners use are biofeedback, relaxation strategies and meditation, all of which are designed to decrease the experience of tension in the body.

These techniques can be useful for Fibromyalgia patients to discover what triggers flare-ups and pain symptoms, allowing them to more effectively manage their day-to-day lives going forward.

Guidelines For Choosing a Quality Practitioner

Before you schedule an appointment with the first specialist you’re referred to or find in the phonebook, it’s important to do some research.

Try googling for local area specialists. Come up with a list of practitioners that are in your area. You can even create a spreadsheet in Excel so that you can easily keep track of the professionals you are examining. There are many review sites available today that provide unprecedented levels of transparency into the quality of medical care you’re likely to receive at one of these specialists’ practices. Read reviews on Yelp.com, for example, and get a sense of what other people are saying about the medical specialist you are interested in working with.

As well, you can use your general physician to receive referrals to specific specialists. In the case of selecting in an alternative medical professional, make sure you are aware of the certifications available to that particular specialty prior to working with them. You might want to call ahead to determine whether the acupuncturist, hypnotherapist or massage therapist has any specific experience working with a Fibromyalgia sufferer like yourself. This is an important consideration because even though Fibromyalgia is incredibly prevalent in today’s society, there are still many professionals that are not fully aware of it.

The Role of Empathy in Medical Care

Because Fibromyalgia is so difficult to treat and is accompanied by symptoms that make it difficult to be an active participant in your own recovery, it’s important to work with the specialists that have a high degree of empathy. They need to be able to sympathize with your situation and not treat you as disobedient when you are unable to perform some of their recommendations. Also, since many Fibromyalgia sufferers also experience psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety, working with a specialist that has the perspective to empathize with your suffering will definitely help to facilitate the caregiver relationship that you will have with your specialist.

Work With ‘Experimental’ Specialists

It’s important to work with a specialist that is not afraid of using new and different treatment approaches to address your specific Fibromyalgia complaints. That is not to say they should be using tremendously unorthodox or unreasonable approaches, but it is to say that they should be equipped to adapt to your specific something profile, and also be aware of new and modern treatment approaches that have not been well publicized.

There are always new advancements occurring in the scientific field, so any specialist that is worth his or her salt will have an in-depth awareness of trending treatment approaches that could have some benefit to you. If your primary care physician deemphasizes the role of alternative modalities, for example, that may indicate to you that your physician is inherently biased against treatments that can have positive effects for you as demonstrated in the modern research literature.

Treatment Compliance is Essential

The Importance of Treatment Adherence

When you are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and have been suffering its painful and fatiguing effects for a while, you will begin to understand why it is so difficult, yet at the same time important, to diligently follow the treatment plans outlined by the specialists you are working with.

It is unlikely that your symptoms will improve if you did not cooperate with the medical advice you are receiving. If you have an objection to a treatment the best thing to do is to voice your concerns with your specialist and come to an agreeable workaround. They will likely be able to adjust the plan to accommodate your objections.

Communication is key. Whether you are working with one doctor, or you are working with several providers, including alternative therapists, make sure that you provide feedback to all of them to let them know that you are either improving or not experiencing any treatment benefits.

In this way, they will be able to adjust their approach if necessary. This will ensure that you receive the best medical care that you can receive, customized to your needs.

Summary

It’s best to investigate an integrative approach when dealing with your Fibromyalgia symptoms.

Since Fibromyalgia is so difficult to diagnose and possesses such a diverse range of painful symptoms, it can be wise to work with different specialists equipped to treat the specific symptoms that are giving you the most trouble.

Sourcing these specialists requires some research, but since the invention of the Internet, it is much easier to find local area providers and reviews of their performance.

People suffering from chronic pain complaints today have a much greater resource pool to draw from, especially with the rise and acceptance of alternative treatments to complement more traditional Western interventions.

If you are suffering from Fibromyalgia, make sure you review the information contained on this page to help you to assemble a treatment team that can provide you an empathic and potent intervention strategy to help you alleviate or cure your Fibromyalgia symptoms.

Click here to read some of our other Fibromyalgia posts.

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