Get answers to your menopause and sexual dysfunction questions.
Fibromyositis; Fibrositis; Myofascial pain syndrome
Studies show that fibromyalgia patients feel better when they deal with the consequences of their disorder on their lives. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) enhances a patient's belief in their own abilities and helps them develop methods for dealing with stressful situations. CBT, also called cognitive therapy, is known to be an effective method for dealing with chronic pain from arthritic conditions. Evidence also suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help some patients with fibromyalgia.
Although the effects of CBT and other non-medication treatments for fibromyalgia do not always last over the long-term, they may help certain groups of people, particularly those with a high level of psychological stress.
CBT may be particularly useful for addressing insomnia, one of the hallmark symptoms of fibromyalgia. In studies, patients who received CBT for insomnia woke up 50% less often at night, and had fewer symptoms of insomnia and improved mood.
The Goals of CBT. The primary goals of CBT are to change any unclear or mistaken ideas and self-defeating behaviors. Using specific tasks and self-observation, patients learn to think of pain as something other than a negative factor that controls their life. Over time, the idea that they are helpless goes away and they learn that they can manage the pain.
Cognitive therapy is particularly helpful for defining and setting limits, which is extremely important for these patients. Many fibromyalgia patients live their lives in extremes. They first become heroes or martyrs, pushing themselves too far until they collapse. This collapse reverses the way they view themselves, and they then think of themselves as complete failures, unable to cope with the simplest task. One important aim of cognitive therapy is to help such patients discover a middle route. Patients learn to prioritize their responsibilities and drop some of the less important tasks or delegate them to others. Learning these coping skills can eventually lead to a more manageable life. Patients learn to view themselves and others with a more flexible attitude.
The Procedure. Cognitive therapy usually does not last long. It typically consists of 6 - 20 one-hour sessions. Patients also receive homework, which usually includes keeping a diary and trying tasks they have avoided in the past because of negative attitudes.
A typical cognitive therapy program may involve the following measures:
Patients should learn to accept that relapses occur, and that over-coping and accomplishing too much too soon can often cause a relapse. Patients should respect these relapses and back off. They should not consider them a sign of failure.
Research also shows that patient education can be effective in treating fibromyalgia, especially when combined with CBT, exercise, and other therapies. Educational programs can take the form of group discussions, lectures, or printed materials, although there isn't any clear evidence on which type of education works best.
Cognitive therapy may be expensive and not covered by insurance. Other effective approaches that are free or less costly include support groups or group psychotherapy. In one study, educational discussion groups were as effective, or even more so, than a cognitive therapy program. Such results are not typical in all centers. Therapeutic success varies widely depending on the skill of the therapist.
Abeles M, Solitar BM, Pillinger MH, Abeles AM. Update on fibromyalgia therapy. Am J Med. 2008;121:555-561.
Arnold LM, Goldenberg DL, Stanford SB, Lalonde JK, Sandhu HS, Keck PE, et al. Gabapentin in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2007;56:1336-1344.
Geisser ME, Glass JM, Rajcevska LD, Clauw DJ, Williams DA, Kileny PR. A psychophysical study of auditory and pressure sensitivity in patients with fibromyalgia and healthy controls. J Pain. 2008;9:417-422.
Guedj E, Cammilleri S, Niboyet J, Dupont P, Vidal E, Dropinski JP, Mundler O. Clinical correlate of brain SPECT perfusion abnormalities in fibromyalgia. J Nucl Med. 2008;49:1798-1803.
Gusi N, Tomas-Carus P. Cost-utility of an 8-month aquatic training for women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10:R24.
Harris RE, Clauw DJ, Scott DJ, McLean SA, Gracely RH, Zubieta JK. Decreased central u-opioid receptor availability in fibromyalgia. J Neurosci. 2007;27:10000-10006.
Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, Arnold LM, Choi H, Deyo RA, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part II. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;58:26-35.
Mannerkorpi K, Henriksson C. Non-pharmacological treatment of chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2007;21:513-534.
Matsushita K, Masuda A, Tei C. Efficacy of Waon therapy for fibromyalgia. Intern Med. 2008;47:1473-1476.
McCabe CS, Cohen H, Blake DR. Somaesthetic disturbances in fibromyalgia are exaggerated by sensory-motor conflict: implications for chronicity of the disease? Rheumatology. 2007;46:1587-1592.
Rooks DS, Gautam S, Romeling M, Cross ML, Stratigakis D, Evans B, et al. Group exercise, education, and combination self-management in women with fibromyalgia. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167;2192-2200.
Schweinhardt P. Fibromyalgia: a disorder of the brain? Neuroscientist. 2008;14:415-421.
Targino RA, Imamura M, Kaziyama HH, Souza LP, Hsing WT, Furlan AD, et al. A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture added to usual treatment for fibromyalgia. J Rehabil Med. 2008;40:582-588.
Van Koulil S, Effting M, Kraaimaat FW, van Lankveld W, van Helmond T, Cats H, et al. Cognitive-behavioural therapies and exercise programmes for patients with fibromyalgia; state of the art and future directions. Ann Rheum Dis. 2007;66:571-581.
Verbunt JA, Pernot DH, Smeets RJ. Disability and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2008;6:8.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885