Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition characterized by widespread pain and fatigue. Other symptoms include sleep disturbances, memory problems, sensitivity to touch, depression, overactive bladder, and irritable bowel syndrome. The pain, chronic tiredness, and other symptoms can have a major impact on an individual’s quality of life.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
Treatment of fibromyalgia can be very difficult to determine because it is difficult to diagnose. Fibromyalgia is known to have a large array of symptoms that are often thought to be other disorders. It is beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia to build a team of medical professional and support members to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
In addition to treatments suggested or prescribed by their healthcare practitioner, such as physical therapy, pain medications, and anti-inflammatory drugs, patients may find it beneficial to identify and seek out alternative therapies.
Alternative Therapies for Fibromyalgia
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the skin at certain areas of the body. Gently twisting or manipulation of the needles may cause the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers and as such individuals with fibromyalgia may experience some pain relief with the practice of acupuncture. In addition, some research has found that acupuncture alters the function of neurotransmitters - the chemicals that help send sensation signals to the brain from the body. This change may cause an individual to have an increase in pain tolerance.
- Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care is a natural treatment of the nervous system which involves the alignment of the spine. This alignment is done through manual manipulation of the body. Fibromyalgia patients may find this therapy useful, as it has been proven to reduce pain.
- In addition, chiropractors may be able to provide ischemic compression - which is applied pressure to the soft tissues of the body. This treatment causes a temporary reduction in blood flow to an area of the body, followed by a rush of blood when the compression is released. The patients who receive this treatment often report a reduction in pain, improved sleep and decreased fatigue.
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is the practice of observing and accepting your thought feeling and sensations. This practice is not about changing your thoughts, but bringing them into the moment. Meditation is practiced in many ways but concentrate on the following: the body, breath, and thoughts. Individuals get relief from stress, anxiety, and depression due to the calming effects of mediation.
- Herbal Supplements: The complementary use of herbal supplements is a somewhat controversial practice, as they may interact with other prescriptions drugs or have unsatisfactory side effects. If you are considering the use of any herbal supplements please discuss with your healthcare provider. However, there is emerging evidence that some herbs can treat symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as anxiety and sleep disturbances.
- Vitamin D: Body aches and pain are often attributed to a Vitamin D deficiency. Fibromyalgia patients may find that adding Vitamin D to their daily regimen may decrease the severity and extent of their pain. This can be accomplished through the natural synthesis of Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, a large glass of milk, or a pill.
- Magnesium: Similarly, a lack of magnesium may also be a cause of muscle pain in fibromyalgia patients. Magnesium levels can be increased through the intake of green vegetables, beans, and whole grains. In addition, it may be taken in pill form.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a supplement commonly used as an alternative to sleep medications. It has been proven to regulate the sleep cycle and result in more restful, restorative sleep. Due to the connection between sleep and pain, it has also been linked to decreased levels of pain in fibromyalgia patients.
- Grape Seed - can be used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce muscle pain
- St. John’s Wort - may be used as an alternative to muscle relaxers to reduce muscle stiffness and pain
- Valerian - can be used to ease insomnia and anxiety