Fibromyalgia is a condition that can cause various symptoms involving pain and fatigue. A rheumatologist may treat this condition alongside a full medical team.

Members of the treatment team may include physical therapists, mental health professionals, and pain management specialists.

This article provides a detailed look at who treats fibromyalgia before discussing the steps toward receiving treatment. It also details the diagnosis, treatment, and outlook for this condition.

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According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a team of medical professionals can treat fibromyalgia. The most significant member of this team is a rheumatologist.

Rheumatologists specialize in diseases of a person’s bones, joints, and muscles. Such conditions include arthritis.

Fibromyalgia is not a kind of arthritis and does not damage bones, joints, or muscles. However, rheumatologists treat fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar to those of arthritis.

Other members of the treatment team might include:

  • Exercise physiologists: Exercise physiologists understand a body’s response to physical activity. They can help people with fibromyalgia exercise in a way that works for them.
  • Mental health professionals: Mental health professionals can help people with mental health conditions that may result from fibromyalgia, such as depression. Some counselors can also use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to teach people pain management skills or techniques.
  • Physical therapists: Physical therapists try to improve people’s quality of life with specialized exercise plans, hands-on care, and education.
  • Primary healthcare professionals: These include family doctors, internists, and pediatricians. These healthcare professionals coordinate between discipline areas that people with fibromyalgia might need. They can also treat new health concerns when they develop.
  • Pain management specialists: These healthcare professionals can evaluate and treat pain.
  • Sleep specialists: Sleep specialists can help people with fibromyalgia improve their sleep and address any sleeping disorders.

People with symptoms of fibromyalgia may wish to consider getting a doctor’s advice. In the first instance, this could be a primary healthcare professional. However, primary healthcare professionals may sometimes be unable to make a diagnosis.

Primary healthcare professionals may recommend a rheumatologist or another health professional specializing in fibromyalgia. This expert can be in the best position to diagnose the condition.

However, second opinions are always an option.

As the NIH explains, no specific tests for fibromyalgia exist. Doctors diagnose this condition by considering a person’s medical history and symptoms.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the following are symptoms of fibromyalgia:

A 2021 research review explained that some doctors may be unable to diagnose many cases of fibromyalgia. This difficulty can occur because the diagnostic guidelines are imperfect, and some doctors may not adequately follow these guidelines.

As the NIH also explains, there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia.

Treatment instead focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life. Treatment might include:

  • exercise
  • mental health therapies, like CBT
  • physical therapy

Several medications can be helpful for fibromyalgia. These include pain-relieving medications. They also include antidepressants, which can help people with fibromyalgia even if depression is not present.

Finally, antiseizure medications can interfere with pain signals traveling to someone’s brain.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, fibromyalgia can cause several complications. These include:

  • more hospitalizations
  • a lower quality of life, which may especially affect women
  • higher rates of major depression
  • decreased suicide survival rates
  • reduced injury survival rates
  • increased rates of rheumatic conditions such as arthritis

All of these complications can affect the outlook for people with fibromyalgia. However, the overall survival rate for people with this condition is roughly the same as that of the larger population.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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This section answers some frequently asked questions about who treats fibromyalgia.

Do you go to a neurologist for fibromyalgia?

No, neurologists will not generally treat fibromyalgia.

However, treatment for fibromyalgia can involve a large team of various healthcare professionals. In some cases, this team might include a neurologist.

Should I see a rheumatologist or neurologist for fibromyalgia?

Many people with fibromyalgia may wish to contact a rheumatologist. These doctors specialize in treating arthritis.

Although fibromyalgia is not an arthritis-like condition, its symptoms are so similar to those conditions that rheumatologists can treat it.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain, tiredness, and several mental health conditions. Because of its complex manifestations, a whole team of healthcare professionals can treat this condition.

The main member of this team is a rheumatologist. Other members include mental health professionals, pain management specialists, and physical therapists. Treatment can involve medication, exercise, and CBT.