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Should You Go to the Emergency Room for Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

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Fibromyalgia is a condition largely marked by widespread, chronic pain. I find that sometimes my pain gets so severe that I consider going to the emergency room to find some relief. Unfortunately, going to the emergency room for chronic pain can be difficult. In general, individuals are encouraged to reach out to their primary care doctor or another medical professional on their team when they are experiencing such intense pain before considering going to the emergency room. It has also been advised that all individuals with chronic pain work with a chronic pain specialist. It is important to have this physician on your team if at all possible so that you have someone you can go to when you are experiencing severe pain without having to go to the emergency room.

However, if you do not have a medical professional you can go to when you are experiencing such intense pain, going to the emergency room can be a possibility. However, it is always possible that you will be questioned about the medications you take while in the emergency room to ensure that you are not just a drug-seeking patient. If you are already taking prescribed pain medication, other forms of pain relief may be explored during your time in the emergency room if your pain is still not well managed.

Going to the emergency room with fibromyalgia pain or other symptoms should, however, be seen as a last choice when all others have been exhausted. It is important that you build your team by adding professionals such as a chronic pain specialist so that you have individuals to call when you are struggling with your symptoms.

If you struggle with fibromyalgia symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed, it is important that you see a rheumatologist to explore the possibility of a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Having this diagnosis will help you to begin building your treatment team so that you can begin managing your pain and other negative symptoms. However, if you have yet to receive a diagnosis or build your treatment team and your pain is unbearable, then going to the emergency room might be the best choice to help you find some relief in the moment.

Generally, the emergency room is not the most appropriate way to find relief for your fibromyalgia symptoms. Having a treatment team will help you to explore various treatments to target your symptoms, and they can help you when you are having days with severe symptoms. Your treatment team can also help you prepare for days when you are experiencing severe symptoms so that you can have a backup plan when symptoms begin to severely impact your everyday life.

Living with fibromyalgia can be frustrating. You never know how you are going to feel from day to day, and this can severely impact how you are able to go about your life and your plans. Even with a treatment team, there are days when I still experience severe symptoms and wind up needing extra help. However, I have learned that going to my rheumatologist or chronic pain specialist is the best choice because they best know me and my experience with my fibromyalgia and they can help me to manage my symptoms.

On occasion, I have found the emergency room helpful when I didn’t have any outpatient physicians who could address my pain and other negative symptoms on my more severe days. But I have found that having an outpatient team is by far the best thing I could have ever done for my chronic pain and associated fibromyalgia symptoms.

Overall, fibromyalgia is a complex illness that is often marked by chronic pain. Some days the pain and associated symptoms can become so severe that it is incredibly hard to function. While the emergency room should be the last choice when it comes to experiencing severe pain associated with fibromyalgia, it can be an option should you not have any outpatient doctors. But what matters most is that you are able to find some relief to improve your quality of life, and it should be your choice how you get help for your fibromyalgia.

Getty image by Pablo Hart.

Originally published: July 11, 2022
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