Patients Need Patience: How to Evaluate Treatment Options

Posted by Karen Lee Richards

Lord, give me patience and I want it right now!  That is an old joke but it expresses the attitude many of us with fibromyalgia (FM) have as we seek relief from our myriad of symptoms.  We have suffered for weeks, months – often years – and we are desperate for relief.  We have taken dozens of different medicines and tried a variety of alternative therapies...all with little to no positive results.  We want help and we want it now!

It is hard to be patient when you’ve hurt so much for so long.  But did you know that your impatience might actually be depriving you of much-needed symptom relief?  I often hear the complaint, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works.”  While it is doubtful  that anyone has really tried “everything,” a more important question is:  Are you giving what you try a fair shot?

Our high-tech world has conditioned us to expect results in minutes.  With the Internet, 24-hour news and weather stations, cell phones, fax machines, microwaves and fast food restaurants, we have quick access to almost anything we could need or want.  We are even bombarded with commercials promising fast relief from headaches, heartburn and a variety of other physical ailments.  So, it is not surprising that we would expect any new medication or therapy we try to work quickly.  In reality, many treatments can take days, weeks or even months to reach their optimum level of effectiveness.  And too often, we are not told what to expect when the treatment is prescribed. 

There are two major pitfalls you need to be aware of before determining a treatment’s effectiveness:

Pitfall #1:  Unrealistic expectations. 

When you take a new medication, do you quit taking it if you do not see improvement within a few days?  Some medications work quickly and then lose effectiveness after a few hours.  Others need to build up in your body gradually and do not reach full effectiveness for several weeks; however, they maintain that level for a much longer period of time.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist how your prescribed medication is supposed to work and when you should expect to see improvement.    

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