What Patients Say Works for Fibromyalgia


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Fibromyalgia GraphicFor the live-updated, fully-labelled, interactive version of this infographic, click here.

By Alexandra Carmichael, Co-Founder of CureTogether
In a surprising finding, patients who live with the painful disorder fibromyalgia have reported that commonly prescribed drugs for this condition actually make their symptoms worse. This is according to a new study by CureTogether, a free resource owned by 23andMe that allows people to share information about their health and treatments.

People in the study said they found that lifestyle changes like rest, heat, and various ways of reducing stress offered the most effective relief. In addition many of those surveyed said that the drug Naltrexone at a low dose worked well. Conversely, well-known fibromyalgia drugs such as Lyrica, Savella, Cymbalta, and Effexor, were reported to worsen rather than improve patients’ symptoms, according to the study.

Most Effective Rated Treatments for People with Fibromyalgia
1. Low-dose Naltrexone (LDN)
2. Rest
3. Hot showers/baths
4. Heating pads
5. Getting enough sleep
6. Hydrotherapy
7. Vicodin
8. Reduce stress
9. Meditation
10. Gluten-free diet

Fibromyalgia affects at least 5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The disorder is characterized by musculoskeletal pain, and other symptoms including fatigue, disrupted sleep, as well as depression. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way a patient’s brain processes pain signals. The condition is poorly understood,, so finding accurate recommendations on treatments can be challenging.

In the CureTogether study, researchers asked 1,401 people suffering from fibromyalgia  to rate the effectiveness of 104 different treatments. Participants shared information about their symptoms as well as what treatments worked best for them. We’d like to thank those who participated. And just as they shared their experience with treatments, we’re freely and openly sharing the results of the Fibromyalgia study.

This is part of a regular series of CureTogether research findings. CureTogether’s research findings are different than those made by 23andMe, which look at genetic associations with illness, traits and drug response. But as we continue our work with the CureTogether community, 23andMe hopes to incorporate more of this kind of self-reported information into our own research. CureTogether present its findings just as they are — patient-reported data — to stimulate discussion and generate new insights for further research.

Please tweet, blog, or pass this along to anyone who can benefit or is interested in Fibromyalgia. Thank you!






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  • Levon Baghdassarian

    I shipped my test July 11th 2013. how long would take to recieve a test results?

    • ScottH

      I believe the results should be ready within 4 to 6 weeks. You can also check the status of your sample on your 23andMe profile homepage. Here’s a link to the steps taken to process the sample.

  • Aaron

    Gluten Free Diet
    Interesting :)

    I hope to see more diet related research by CureTogether and 23andMe.

  • Debra

    I started my symptoms after brain surgery that I also got a chemical type meningitis. Seems it was almost over night. The only thing that even let’s me exist is a Fentanyl patch. I am still in pain everyday, some really bad, but the patch has made the most dramatic change than anything else I’ve tried.

  • Heather

    Primal/Paleo fixed my FM. I get flare ups with grains and sugar. I have learned that saturated fat and cholesterol are my friend. I take no medications. Food is my medicine – I do not eat processed frankenfoods – I eat real food (food doesn’t contain ingredients…food is an ingredient…i.e. meat = meat. Blueberries = blueberries. Eggs = eggs). What I kicked out of my diet was grains, PUFA grain/seed oils, refined sugars, legumes and all commercial dairy except heavy whipping cream (though I usually buy local grass-fed low-heat pasteurized). I also cut way back on fruits/veggies (turns out that grain fiber makes IBS MUCH MUCH WORSE – opposite of what all doctors told me). I eat mostly fat (saturated fat since it is the most stable and the body uses it for repair and maintenance) and protein. Best thing I ever did. In fact, it was the FM diagnosis that got me started. Primal Blueprint! 42 years old and in the best shape and health of my life.

  • Heather

    The best nutrients for the brain are saturated fat and cholesterol (stay away from statins!! They will destroy your brain…http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/alzheimers_statins.html – this is about Alzheimer’s and ApoE4 but discusses the important role of fat and cholesterol in the brain)

  • Joe Weaver

    I would like to hear from people who have used Low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibro.

    • Pam Harris

      I have been on low dose naltrexone for over a year and have not had any pain from Fibro in all of that time. My husband takes it for his Multiple Sclerosis and has been on it for 3 1/2 years without any symptoms.

  • phyliss curto

    I have fibro, been on cymbalta good for anxiety and depression but no changes in my pain, well some days worse. I also have lupus and scladaerma, any suggestions for that.with ra? Can take the pain, severe fatigue, rashes, and the other stuff. ……..help. willing to be in study

  • http://HeatherEngler Heather Engler

    I use Thrive by Le-vel. Go check out the Fibro testimonies.

  • Miss M.

    I wish mild yoga and aquatic exercise was on that list,as those two things have helped manage fibromyalgia for me as well

    • Crynsugar

      Hydrotherapy is on there, that is water therapy or aquatic exercise.

  • Leia

    I recently found that long term use of Cymbalta can cause irritability or just straight up anger in some folks, including me. I am almost rid of the Cymbalta now and am trading it for Zoloft which helps so very much for my anger issues. I haven’t noticed much increase of pain since reducing the Cymbalta.

    Things that have helped me include: Epsom salt baths for 30 to 60 min, lots of rest, MMJ with high CBD’S & kow THC’s, Chinese acupuncture, Exalgo, Oxy & CORSETS!!!

    My pain began with a herniated disc in my Thorasic spine and grew to include fibro & vulvar vestibulitis which is best explained as horrible fibro of the lower girly regions. I learned today from my Pelvic Pain PT gal that back injuries & fibro frequently creat this painful and humiliating problem. If anyone out there thinks thry may have vulvar vestibulitis, don’t tolorate this kind of pain by your self any longer!! Call your doctor and request a referral to a Pelvic Pain Specialist ASAP!!!! As usual this can’t be cured but there are things out there to help deal with it!!!!

    Gental hugs to you all,
    Leia

  • Nurse Jon

    Surprised to not see Water Cures Protocol on your list of treatments. I use it for all those I treat and they all say they have improvement.

  • pat

    MTHFR gene mutation of A1298C for fibro..see your raw data and a qualified nutrician.
    The mutations in the MTHFR gene is cause for mmuscle pain, cardio, etc.

  • pat

    MTHFR – inability to process folic acid (folate) needed for all the cell pathway processes.
    Need mythelated folate and B vitamins …. to rebuild stores of folic acid to have the cellls repair and process properly.

    Need help of qualified nutricianist who understands this process….calculating what you need is not a good self help process. Read Dr. Amy Yasko and Dr. Ben Lench

  • Roxy Jones

    I have had fibromyalgia for years now and I recently discovered that chiropractic care really works for me. I read about it and decided to give it a try.

  • DavidEm

    Has anyone tried to Enhance their Mitochondrial, Balance their hormones, or Improve their immune function to help relieve their symptoms? I don’t see anything like that on the chart but I read that these things could vastly help. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    P.S. This chart is awesome, can’t wait to try some of these! I’ll keep you all posted with how it works out for me : )

  • Vandra

    I tried a plant based diet, with a vegan multivitamin. I also make sure I have oily fish and eggs at least once a week, no caffeine and no alcohol. I also find hunger helps, I like being hungry before I eat bizarrely it really helps me. I’m no longer taking any medication and sleep well, although fatigue and cold weather still affect me.

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