Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia: Dual Treatments
Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. Additionally, endometriosis can take an average of 4 – 7 years to be diagnosed. The women who have endometriosis are more likely have several other chronic conditions. Some of these conditions include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, asthma, and eczema. Fibromyalgia is a condition involving widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties.
The first wave of treatment options for endometriosis often involves various types of hormone medications. In cases where the endometriosis is not easily controlled by the hormonal options, there are a variety of other treatment options available. These additional treatment options can also be used to treat the comorbid condition of fibromyalgia.
While endometriosis and fibromyalgia are two separate conditions, they do share some similar treatment options. It is still important to make sure the doctors who are treating both conditions are aware of what the other is doing. Some of the similar treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxers.
Anti-inflammatory medications relieve some pain by reducing inflammation in the body. A reduction in the amount of inflammation within the body can be beneficial in both endometriosis and fibromyalgia conditions. In both conditions, anti-inflammatory medications are likely to be used in combination to other treatment options.
I recently had my endometriosis specialist prescribe me Celebrex in addition to my current hormone treatment plan. This makes sense because the endometriosis adhesions and scar tissue can cause inflammation due to attachment and strain on the nerves, ligaments, and other tissue within the body. In the consideration of fibromyalgia, anti-inflammatory medications can lower deep muscle and joint pain.2 The previous mentioned Celebrex does help with the joint pain I have due to fibromyalgia.
Antidepressant medications affect how much of various types of neurotransmitters are active in the brain. These medications can specifically help treat the pain related to endometriosis by affecting any nerve damage or irritation.1 The endometriosis adhesions or related scar tissue can attach to nerves, ligaments, or various other tissue within the body causing pain.
In a broader perspective, due to how antidepressants work, they can affect more than somebody’s mood. They can also affect an individual’s sensitivity to pain and improve their sleep.2 The pain from both endometriosis and fibromyalgia can be improved by a decreased sensitivity to pain.
I have personally tried several different versions of antidepressants throughout my treatment for endometriosis and fibromyalgia. While I did not have success from this medication option lowering my pain, that does not mean somebody will not receive relief from antidepressants. From personal treatment history, I am aware of how this class of medications can be helpful in a different element, since some individuals can experience depression due to being in a state of chronic pain.
Anticonvulsant medications can be used to help with the pain caused by both conditions. These medications help by reducing the signals sent to the brain from overactive nerves, in this case pain signals. This class of medications can also improve sleep. Some examples of anticonvulsants used for endometriosis and fibromyalgia include Lyrica and gabapentin.1 I currently take a high dose of a new extended-release gabapentin called Gralise. I do have to take this medication at bedtime because it does make me very drowsy.
Muscle relaxers are another class of treatments that can assist with the pain from both endometriosis and fibromyalgia. These medications work by “decreasing cramping and pain in the muscles in your pelvis and around your bladder” which can be due to irritation caused by endometriosis.1 Any kind of muscle cramp or spasms can cause significant pain. When treating fibromyalgia, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxers to reduce pain and improve sleep.2
I currently take muscle relaxers myself. In many ways I feel like my fibromyalgia would have a much higher daily pain level if I did not have the prescription muscle relaxers. Since sleep is so hard to come by while in pain from both endometriosis and fibromyalgia, the muscle relaxers help my body relax enough to get some sleep.
While there is no cure for either endometriosis or fibromyalgia, these treatment options can help reduce the pain being endured. Something else that help with both conditions is exercise. It can be understandably hard to exercise when dealing with chronic pain. Despite this, it is still important because it will help strengthen the immune system. My doctors always told me it was better for the muscles to have movement in order not to be too stiff.
Do you have both endometriosis and fibromyalgia? What classes of treatments have you tried?
Do you know someone that has made a difference with endometriosis advocacy?