Fibromyalgia is a very common condition that is marked by widespread pain with tenderness and other arthritic type conditions.
The word “fibro” is from Latin and means fibrous tissue and myo is Greek for muscle. Algia or pain refers to the fact that the condition affects the muscles.
While it’s typically considered to be a form of arthritis, it’s actually not a real form of arthritis as it does not cause the inflammation to the joints that arthritis causes.
However, like arthritis, is a rheumatic medical condition that can cause impairment to joints, soft tissues and can cause chronic pain throughout the body.
It can have a sudden onset, or it may be a condition that creeps in slowly and the person gradually becomes aware of it and how it’s affected them.
Others can’t see pain. They can’t see that you’re suffering. All they can see is that you might move more slowly while you’re doing specific tasks. They may see you cringe at times but they really can’t feel what you’re going through.
Fibromyalgia is one of those “invisible illnesses” that many people struggle with. Invisible illnesses are often scorned or looked over.
The truth is, many illnesses are literally invisible. To look at a person you’d never know they were struggling with a deep and painful struggle with their illness.
There are ten main symptoms of fibromyalgia. Patients may have one symptom, a combination of symptoms or all of the symptoms.
- Widespread pain
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Fog (mental)
- Stiff in the mornings
- Knotted muscles
- Serious digestive disorders
- Migraines or headaches
- Balance issues
- Burning and itching skin
The symptoms will vary from patient to patient however, there are some that remain constant regardless of who it is. Most patients struggle with fatigue in the daytime hours and most patients will struggle with some sort of pain.
At present, it is believed that 3 to 5 percent of the population are struggling with fibromyalgia. It can occur in children as well as adults. Men can have the condition as well as women although women are much more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.
The symptoms may ebb and flow throughout the day. Approximately one-quarter of those who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia are unable to work and on some form of disability.
Top 10 natural remedies for treating fibromyalgia
Vitamin D And Magnesium
It’s been discovered that patients suffering from fibromyalgia tend to have lower levels of both Vitamin D and magnesium. While there isn’t any evidence that vitamin D supplements can actually help, those who are trying this as a natural remedy claim that they do tend to feel better.
They state that they have less loss of muscle and nerve function and their outlook on life overall is much better and more positive.
Vitamin D can be found in sunlight as well as vitamin supplements. According to a study done by Pain Medicine, it took approximately 8 weeks for the Vitamin D supplements to really kick in and give any noticeable effect.
It certainly can’t hurt to add this supplement to your diet. Magnesium supplements may also help to reduce the painful effect of fibromyalgia. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for exact dosage recommendations.
Perhaps one of the oldest treatments for chronic pain, acupuncture utilizes an ancient Chinese medical practice of using needles inserted into the skin in specific areas to treat the pain.
These needles are very fine and are said to release the pain from the body by opening the energy channels and allowing the body’s natural energy to freely flow. They may also include a pulse of electricity that helps to relieve the pain as well. This is called electro-acupuncture.
While the results aren’t really long-lasting, they may provide temporary relief from various pain conditions and be helpful in the short term while waiting for a long term pain treatment to take effect.
If a condition is only temporary it may be very beneficial to try acupuncture to get over the worst portions of the pain. Many fibromyalgia patients swear by acupuncture in spite of limited scientific research on the phenomenon.
S-adenosylmethionine Or SAMe
SAMe is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It’s involved in a lot of the processes that the body undergoes on a daily basis and it’s long been known to help relieve pain as well as depression and other chronic issues.
It can help by reducing the fatigue as well as the stiffness and pain that patients with osteoarthritis and other conditions are struggling to get under control.
According to many studies, the benefits are small but more research is being done to see how it works and what the proper dosages should be for this as a remedy for fibromyalgia.
It’s not found in food but it can be found in supplement form as a tablet. Since it works on helping the brain to function properly and as an anti-depressant, it may be that it works on the brain to alter how the person is feeling by improving their mood.
Yoga is a form of exercise that may help to reduce pain levels in patients. According to studies, a 75-minute yoga class taken twice per week for eight weeks is said to help patients lower the stress hormone of cortisol in their bloodstream. By lowering this stress hormone many patients enjoy pain relief.
There are other great benefits to yoga as well. As a gentle form of exercise, it’s great for stretching sore muscles, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress overall. The lower the stress levels the better the person is able to cope with pain.
Keeping the body in motion may be part of the pain reduction as well as helping the person to focus more on concentration and reducing their pain levels.
It’s amazing what a few hours of meditation can do to your health. From changing how we perceive pain to helping reduce our blood pressure, meditation is an amazing remedy for many ailments.
According to Dr. Daniel Lewis, an Australian rheumatologist, it can change how your brain works and reacts to pain.
When considering all that your brain does, it’s a great way to refocus your mind and give your brain a chance to change how it’s perceiving signals. It gives you an opportunity to overcome pain by the simple power of your mind.
This method works well and most patients that utilize this treatment spend about 20 minutes one to three times per day in meditation. It’s a great way to promote deep relaxation and allow the body time to heal from within.
It’s also an ideal stress reducer and everyone knows that stress can make the pain even more intense.
Another great alternative method of treating fibromyalgia is massage therapy. There are many different forms of massage therapy. From deep tissue massage to manual lymph drainage therapy, massage therapy can offer up a lot of benefits to the fibromyalgia patient.
Massage therapy can help to manipulate sore muscles and give them more flexibility. It can promote relaxation and it can help to reduce stress on areas of the body that are hurting.
Manual lymph drainage therapy helps to rid the body of toxins and waste materials that can accumulate in the muscles and the rhythm of the massage can improve blood flow and loosen up lymph blockages that may be causing some of the pain.
Patients who opt for manual lymph drainage therapy typically spend at least one hour five times per week in therapy.
There are many creams and ointments that can be used to help treat fibromyalgia. One of these is capsaicin. Capsaicin is derived from the pepper plant. It’s long been considered a natural pain reliever.
It can be found in over the counter medications in the forms of sprays, ointments, lotions, and creams. When massaged into the muscles it can be very relieving for pain and aches that seem to come along with fibromyalgia.
Capsaicin has often been used to treat cancer, arthritis, pain from diabetes, cluster headaches and more. Simply massage it into the sore muscle groups just as you would any other ointment or cream. Within just a few minutes you’ll feel the tingling sensation and it will begin to warm the muscles.
This can be very soothing and most of the creams or ointments can be reapplied frequently throughout the day. Many patients keep a bottle or tube of such an ointment in their purse or car to use as needed throughout the day. In most cases, the capsaicin can be applied as often as required throughout the day.
5-HTP is an all-natural amino acid. It works by improving the serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a chemical that works in the brain to help us feel better. Per the University of Maryland Medical Center, it may also help to improve mood, fatigue, stiffness in muscles, pain, and anxiety.
By improving how a person feels the serotonin can help the patient to feel better, less anxious and pain-free.
Scientists believe that it works as an anti-depressant and helps to not only improve levels of serotonin but also by helping to balance out the brain to a more normal functioning pattern. Once the brain is functioning at its optimum most patients begin to feel a change in their mood and their general health.
Learning to manipulate the mind connection is called biofeedback. Patients will learn how to control pain with the power of their minds. There are many ways to learn this technique including measuring skin temperature and brain waves. It can work by teaching the patient to use mind over matter when it comes to pain.
To begin with, a patient will undergo some therapy in which they will learn how to manage the biofeedback. With time and understanding of the process, they will find more ways to deal with the pain and use the biofeedback.
While the jury is still out on this method, many patients have reported a great reduction in pain by simply learning how to use their mind over their pain. Focusing on relaxing specific muscle groups can reduce tension and help them to reduce the pain that tightening these muscle groups up can cause.
Once a person catches on to how this method works it’s often a very viable useful method in treating the painful condition of fibromyalgia.
This ancient Chinese practice is a form of gentle exercise. It works by moving the limbs and muscles slowly, gently and deliberately in several pre-planned movements. Similar in some ways to Yoga, it helps to improve the motion and the blood flow in the muscles and the limbs.
One study was done in 2012 using a one hour class in tai chi for 12 weeks. Patients found that they had improved pain relief and better quality of sleep after learning tai chi.
Those who were also suffering from depression found that they weren’t as depressed and they had an improved quality of life. The patients still felt better 24 weeks later. By practicing this gentle form of exercise daily they found that they were free from pain much more quickly than had they been on medications for pain.
Chiropractic manipulation has long been known as a great method of alternative pain treatment. It uses the art of spinal manipulation and realigns the back to help improve movement, reduce pain and promote healing from within.
Most studies find that it is an effective means from which a patient can reduce back pain as well as head and neck pain. In fibromyalgia, it may help to improve movement and realign the spine to reduce pain.
Although science has no evidence to prove that it helps relieve pain for fibromyalgia patients, ask any patient who uses it and you’re likely to hear that they couldn’t live without the chiropractor in their life.
They may visit once per week, more often if things are out of alignment or they may visit as little as once per month. Regardless of how often they visit, they will tout that it helps reduce their pain and improve their mobility.
Once the spine is in alignment, patients will find that they tend to stand taller and hold themselves more upright. This can in turn help to relieve pain from organs pressing on other organs or nerves and thus causing pain.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can’t seem to keep itself out of the news these days and with good reason. It appears that it can help to alleviate many symptoms that go along with such conditions as fibromyalgia.
These symptoms include fatigue (both brought on by stress as well as from the physical and emotional trauma of living with a pain condition) as well as helping to lower and reduce joint pain and inflammation.
In addition to ingesting apple cider vinegar, patients may also find relief by rubbing it into areas that are swollen. It can help to improve digestion which can also cause painful stomach cramps and constipation. All of which can affect a patient with fibromyalgia.
Since apple cider vinegar is readily available at your local grocer it can be found readily and utilized in treating patients. It’s all-natural and very inexpensive so patients on a budget don’t have to stress about being able to afford something that will work for their specific conditions.
An additional benefit is that the apple cider vinegar may also help in promoting healing by increasing the flow of oxygen to the muscles. This, in turn, will help the muscles to relax and heal more quickly.
It’s suggested that patients choose the unfiltered versions of apple cider vinegar and try to avoid the ones that may have been over-processed.
There are many colds pressed raw forms of apple cider vinegar on the market today. The cold-pressed raw forms of the apple cider vinegar will have the right beneficial raw enzymes in it that promote healing from within the body.
It is suggested that patients take one to two tablespoons of the unfiltered, raw, cold-pressed, organic apple cider vinegar each day. They can work upwards from one teaspoon to two tablespoons.
It’s important to check with a doctor prior to starting any alternative treatment for any medical condition as many of the drugs that the doctor might prescribe could interact with the alternative treatment therapy.
Clearly, treatment is still in the early stages of relief for treating patients who are suffering from fibromyalgia. Doctors will suggest alternative treatments in most cases, especially if medications don’t seem to be doing the trick.
Keeping regular massage appointments as well as attending yoga or tai chi classes may be the ideal therapy for treating your medical condition and helping you to find relief from the pain of fibromyalgia.