Easing the Pain of Fibromyalgia Naturally
Fibromyalgia treatment doesn't always have to be in the form of a prescription drug. These natural approaches may help ease your chronic pain.
Medically Reviewed by Justin Laube, MD
Fibromyalgia and You
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, no one needs to tell you about the almost daily widespread muscle pain you live with, along with constant fatigue, sleeplessness, fibro fog , and low-grade depression.
The chronic muscle pain of fibromyalgia affects about 1 in 50 Americans — mostly women. Because there is no cure for fibromyalgia and the cause is not understood, the quest to find the best fibromyalgia pain relief is ongoing.
Research shows fibromyalgia may start as young as childhood or the teenage years, particularly in adolescent girls, and it gradually worsens with age. Some findings show that because of the common symptoms, fibromyalgia may be misdiagnosed in mature adults, who often view the mysterious pain in their bodies as just another sign of getting older. Fibromyalgia is not a sign of aging.
Though it's a commonly underdiagnosed syndrome, fibromyalgia is the most common arthritis-related disease next to osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear arthritis. Fibromyalgia syndrome is characterized by the following:
Concentration problems (fibro fog)
Additionally, some research indicates that fibromyalgia pain may be the result of lower levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that sends messages from one brain cell to another. Lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are linked to poor sleep and a lower pain threshold.
The good news is that the different symptoms of fibromyalgia can be managed. Many people find natural remedies for fibromyalgia helpful: About 90 percent of those with fibromyalgia have tried some form of them. There is a growing body of research in support of many nonpharmacologic therapies such as the ones listed below, and many have been shown to be safe. More research is needed though to confirm for which populations it is effective in. Talk to your doctor about what might be most appropriate for you.
Vitamin D as Fibromyalgia Treatment?
Both vitamin D and magnesium levels have been found to be low in people with fibromyalgia, but as yet there is limited evidence that taking these natural remedies for fibromyalgia is effective. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, does have some effects on nerve and muscle function, and some studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D may be associated with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. In a small clinical study published online in the January 2012 issue of Pain Medicine, fibromyalgia symptoms improved in 30 women after eight weeks of vitamin D supplementation. This is a relatively safe intervention and could be started after a discussion with your physician and possibly a measurement of your vitamin D level.
Get Fibromyalgia Pain Relief From Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of treatment for chronic pain and is based on ancient Chinese medical practices. There have been several studies on the usefulness of acupuncture as a natural remedy for fibromyalgia symptoms. A study published in July 2016 in BMJ Acupuncture in Medicine supported the use of acupuncture combined with a pulsed electric current, a treatment called electroacupuncture. Although this fibromyalgia treatment seems to offer fibromyalgia pain relief, the results are not long-lasting.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) May Offer Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
Because SAMe is a substance that occurs naturally throughout the body and is involved in many of the body’s processes, its role as a pain reliever has been studied. SAMe is not a medicine for fibromyalgia, but this over-the-counter (OTC) natural dietary supplement has been shown to help treat depression and the chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis. Some studies show that taking SAMe may offer fibromyalgia pain relief, as well as help with fatigue and stiffness. But a review of studies on the use of SAMe published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in June 2017 concluded that the studies have been small and not all of them found a benefit. More research is needed. SAMe is not found in food, but can be taken as a supplement in the form of a tablet.
Massage Therapy Is Commonly Used for Fibromyalgia
Massage therapy is another alternative pain treatment that is commonly tried for fibromyalgia. The benefits of massage are hard to demonstrate in a clinical study , according to a review published in PLoS One in February 2014 , but it does seem to be helpful for many types of muscle pain, including fibromyalgia. Massage is generally safe. It may certainly relieve tightness and promote relaxation, but it is not likely to provide any long-term fibromyalgia help.
Capsaicin Application for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
Capsaicin comes from pepper plants and may be a natural remedy for fibromyalgia pain relief. It’s the active ingredient in a variety of over-the-counter sprays and lotions. When applied to a painful area of the body, capsaicin stimulates the release of a body chemical called substance P. As substance P is depleted, the pain sensation seems to decrease. Capsaicin has been used for chronic pain in diabetes , cancer, and cluster headaches . It may also temporarily be used for fibromyalgia pain relief.
Biofeedback for Fibromyalgia Pain
Biofeedback is an alternative therapy that uses the mind-body connection to help you learn to control your chronic pain with the power of your mind. The feedback may come in the form of muscle tension, skin temperature, or brain-wave measurements. Biofeedback is helpful for many painful conditions when it is used along with other therapies. There are not enough high-quality long-term studies to say for sure whether biofeedback is an effective fibromyalgia treatment yet, according to an article published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in September 2013 .
Chiropractic Manipulation for Fibromyalgia Pain
Chiropractic medicine is an alternative form of treatment that uses spinal manipulation and realignment to give fibromyalgia pain relief, improve function, and promote natural healing. Chiropractic has been studied in many chronic pain conditions. Most studies suggest it may be effective for relief of back, neck, or headache pain . As far as fibromyalgia help, the National Institutes of Health state there is insufficient evidence to recommend chiropractic, although some people with fibromyalgia find it helpful.
Melatonin Hormone Help for Fibromyalgia
Melatonin is a natural hormone found in the body, thought to be involved in promoting sleep . Melatonin in pill form is often used as a sleep aid, but it has also been used for depression, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Again, research published in June 2016 in the journal Pain and Therapy found there is not enough evidence to support its use for the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. However, many people do get fibromyalgia help from natural and alternative treatments despite the lack of research support. If you want to try one of these natural remedies for fibromyalgia pain relief, always check with your doctor first.
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