What’s the Best Treatment for Fibromyalgia Pain?

Dr. Sharon OrrangeDr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.Posted on October 17, 2018

Migraines, sensitivity to touch, fatigue and pain all over…that’s what folks with fibromyalgia deal with. For a long time, patients and doctors were frustrated that there were no definitive solutions for this often unbearable condition.

Well, researchers looked into what people were doing to treat their pain—from meditation and exercise to prescription drugs—and published what they found. Here’s what works (and what doesn’t). What have you tried?

What works for fibromyalgia pain

You might be surprised to know that it’s not medications, but general lifestyle changes and exercise, that are most effective for fibromyalgia pain.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic conditioning and training (preferably supervised by a trainer or physical therapist) is the best possible treatment of fibromyalgia pain. These include exercises that get your heart rate up like walking, hiking, running, swimming, spinning, dancing and kickboxing.

Improving sleep hygiene 

“Sleep hygiene” is the term used to describe good sleep habits, and anything that affects your quality of sleep can affect how your body experiences pain. Many sleep hygiene tips are self-explanatory (like avoiding caffeine at night), but here’s a quick reminder of some things you can do:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night, including weekends.
  • Prep your bedroom. Make sure it’s quiet, dark and relaxing, and leave electronic devices in another room.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol right before bed.
  • Exercise every day. Regular exercise, especially in natural light, can get your body ready to sleep at night.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy used to improve mental health, and can be helpful for those coping with chronic pain. Ask your primary care doctor for a referral or look online at the Psychology Today Therapist Finder to find a therapist near you who takes your insurance.


While the studies for acupuncture and fibromyalgia are somewhat mixed, many suggest that acupuncture has benefits. The downside here is cost as many insurance plans don’t cover acupuncture, but it’s worth calling your plan administrator to check anyway.

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