A treatment team should be viewed as a partnership in which each member brings unique and important skills, and expertise. Combined treatment approaches are proven to have more effectiveness in the treatment of fibromyalgia, but it takes time and effort to pull together the right group of people.
At minimum, a fibromyalgia patient should have:
1) a primary care physician
2) a complementary medicine professional, and
3) mental health care provider
Healthcare Professionals Who Can Treat Fibromyalgia
- Primary Care Practitioner: In choosing a physician, fibromyalgia patients should seek out an empathetic caregiver who will listen to them and work with them through difficult diagnosis and treatment stages. In addition, it is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable regarding fibromyalgia and is confident in his or her ability to treat patients with this syndrome.
It will be the responsibility of this physician to oversee the overall treatment of the patient. This includes prescribing and monitoring prescribed medication and therapies. This care provider will likely be the first person that you discuss your symptoms with regarding fibromyalgia. He or she will ask you to rate your pain and may perform a tender point test to determine if you meet the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia.
If you are diagnosed with this condition, your primary care physician will likely connect you with further care providers such as a rheumatologist, psychologist, and physical therapist. Complementary medicines such as chiropractic care and acupuncture may have to sought out on an individual basis.
- Rheumatologist: A rheumatologist is a physician who has obtained extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic disorders, such as musculoskeletal diseases and systemic autoimmune conditions, which affect the joints, muscles, and bones.
Diseases commonly treated by Rheumatologists include:
This physician is a specialist and will likely be your main doctor during the treatment of your disorder. He or she will perform tests to rule out other illnesses and conditions, prescribe complementary therapies and will adjust medications as needed.
- Psychologist or Psychiatrist: Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of fibromyalgia. These mental health disorders can be treated and managed through the help of a mental health professional. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who treats mental health disorders and can prescribe medications. A psychologist has a doctorate in psychology and although he or she cannot prescribe medications, he can treat mental health conditions.
A fibromyalgia diagnosis, along with other life-altering symptoms can cause additional stress and despair for an individual. A mental health provider can help you identify and understand your emotions through one-on-one counseling sessions. A psychiatrist may also suggest the use of anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants to treat your symptoms.
- Physical Therapist: Living with fibromyalgia often comes with many challenges and obstacles, such as pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. These symptoms can be managed through a personalized exercise program developed by a physical therapist. A physical therapist is a highly-educated medical professional that provides treatment to individuals who experience a decrease in the ability to move and perform activities of daily living.
A physical therapist can help you learn about and understand your pain and your mobility. Through education, exercise, and strength training a physical therapist can help you manage your fibromyalgia pain and combat other symptoms of the syndrome.
Other health care and complementary medicine providers may also play an important role in the treatment of your fibromyalgia. These may include massage therapists, chiropractors, alternative medicine practitioners, and yoga instructors.