Other Specialists You Might Need
The health-care professionals discussed so far are the most likely ones to serve as your primary fibromyalgia doctors. But for people who have fibromyalgia, the symptoms can affect a variety of body systems, and their needs may require the attention of other specialized physicians.
Endocrinologists specialize in treating the body's endocrine system, which regulates hormones. Hormones are essential substances produced by different glands, and they are involved in everything from reproduction to metabolism. An endocrinologist may be consulted to treat problems such as thyroid disease, diabetes, endometriosis, and infertility.
Anyone who endures inexplicable pain is a candidate for the neurologist's office. Neurologists specialize in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system, which includes pain and pain management. Some neurologists may focus on treating patients with Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's.
Any injury that might require rehabilitation could fall under the scrutiny of a physiatrist. Physiatrists specialize in physical medicine and work to restore function to injured muscles and joints. Some physiatrists may even specialize in fibromyalgia. Physiatrists also treat people who have suffered strokes, neurological disorders, and multiple sclerosis.
Sometimes, the emotional problems caused by fibromyalgia can become serious. That's when you might need a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental illness and emotional problems. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can perform laboratory tests and medical tests that offer a complete picture of your well-being. They can also prescribe medications or offer psychotherapy.
Pain Management Specialist
It's not unusual for the pain of fibromyalgia to become so severe that your other doctors become uncomfortable managing it. In some cases, specialized procedures such as an epidural injection are required to reduce it. Or there may be so many medications involved that it requires the knowledge of someone who specializes in their use. Pain management doctors have extensive training in all the types of procedures and medications that can help relieve pain.
Physical Therapist (PT)
People who are suffering from extreme pain or need help with physical recovery may turn to a physical therapist (PT) for assistance. PTs work with patients to develop a physical treatment plan that addresses their pain in order to improve a patient's independence and self-sufficiency.
A PT may use numerous techniques to reduce your pain, including exercise, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, heat, and cold. After getting an assessment and doing a physical exam, the PT will work with you to devise a program of rest and exercise that improves your function. The exercises are designed to strengthen your muscles, improve your range of motion, and enhance cardiovascular conditioning. They can also provide casting and splinting and educate patients on proper body mechanics.
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Occupational Therapist (OT)
In the midst of fibro pain and fatigue, even the simplest tasks can seem daunting. That's where the occupational therapist (OT) can help. OTs are the most practical of medical professionals. They typically get involved when a patient has trouble getting through the routines of daily life.
OTs work with patients to help them learn how to move through their routine in ways that cause less pain. The OT also helps you find ways to conserve energy so that you never overexert yourself. In addition, an OT can help you find the splints and equipment you need to protect your joints, reduce your pain, and improve your function.
Before you got sick, you probably had few encounters with a pharmacist. But if you have fibromyalgia, you may require more medications than you needed in the past. Having a good relationship with a pharmacist can become important to your health. So choose a pharmacist you like and trust, and use that person for all your prescriptions.
Any medication can have side effects, especially if taken with another food or substance. Calcium-rich foods, for instance, lessen the effectiveness of some antibiotics. Gingko biloba, an herbal remedy, can interfere with blood clotting if you're on aspirin. Decongestants can cause blood pressure to spike in people who take antihypertensive medications. Read all labels carefully, and discuss anything you take with your doctor or pharmacist.
Pharmacists can provide a wealth of information, some of it lifesaving. The pharmacist can alert you to potentially dangerous drug interactions and possible side effects from any medications you're prescribed. He can tell you whether an over-the-counter remedy or herbal supplement will interact with a prescription medication you're taking. He can also advise you on whether drugs require food before they're ingested.
There is also a pharmacy specialist called a pharmacologist. These are pharmacy-trained professionals who specialize in helping patients who must take numerous or unusual medications. The pharmacologist helps them deal with dosing patterns and avoid drug interactions, as well as other challenges. Since some patients with severe fibro might wind up on a number of medications, a pharmacologist may be called on to coordinate their use.
Living with a chronic illness that is potentially disabling can cause a constellation of emotional and psychological symptoms such as anger, depression, fear, and anxiety. Patients may also experience difficulties in their personal relationships, work situations, and families.
A psychologist can help you work through these myriad issues through counseling and therapy. After a thorough discussion and evaluation of your problems, a psychologist can help you devise the coping skills you need to overcome these difficulties. Since stress aggravates FMS, a psychologist can also teach you mind-body techniques that enhance relaxation and bolster your pain management.
Social workers may get involved in a person's life on several levels. They may provide counseling and help locate services in the community that aid in a patient's recovery. They can also identify resources that address a patient's need for financial help, home care, transportation, and support groups.
For the unfortunate people who are unable to work as a result of FMS, a social worker can help them navigate the social services maze in order to secure assistance.