7 Tips for Surgery with Fibromyalgia

Karen Lee Richards | March 30, 2012

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If you have fibromyalgia and are facing a surgical procedure, you may have heard horror stories about post-operative flare-ups and long, painful recovery periods. While it’s true your recuperation period may take longer than the average person, there are steps that can be taken to reduce your pain levels and minimize your chances of a severe flare.

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Pain medication

Ask that you be given pre-operative opioid pain medication about 90 minutes before your surgery to minimize central sensitization.

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Magnesium sulfate

Two to three grams of magnesium sulfate given intravenously over a period of 45 – 60 minutes might also block central sensitization.

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Avoid muscle relaxants

Sometimes increased postoperative pain in fibromyalgia patients is due to the use of a muscle relaxant drug called succinylcholine during surgery. Talk to your anesthesiologist about other options if this drug was to be used.

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Be mindful of intravenous lines

The arm with your intravenous line should be kept near your body, not over your head or otherwise away from your body. It’s best that you not be kept in any one unusual position for any longer than absolutely necessary in order to reduce the potential for pain or discomfort after the surgery.

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Minimize neck hyperextension

If an endotracheal tube is used to help you breathe during the procedure, care should be taken to minimize neck hyperextension. Request that you be given a soft neck collar to wear.

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Local anasthetic use

Request that a long-acting local anesthetic be infiltrated into your incision. Even though you won’t be awake to feel it, if the area is not anesthetized, pain impulses will be sent to the spinal cord and brain, which can trigger central sensitization.

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PCA pump

When you leave surgery, a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump should be in place.  In most cases, opioid medications should be administered during the first few days following surgery.  PCA pumps allow a certain amount of medication to be delivered continuously, with the added feature of letting the patient add extra medication at pre-set intervals as needed.