Fibromyalgia affects approximately one in every 50 Americans. Though the pain is intense at times and it feels like relief may never come, there are more ways to achieve pain management and relief than through the use of prescription drugs. In fact, a cure does not yet exist because doctors are not exactly sure of the cause of the condition. This means that prescription drugs treat the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause of the issue.
As a result, about 90% of the population affected by fibromyalgia has attempted at least one, if not more, of the natural remedies for fibromyalgia listed here. The only way to find out which ones will work for you is to try them.
1) Soak Up the Sun: Get Vitamin D
One thing that patients with fibromyalgia seem to have in common is vitamin D and magnesium deficiency. Some studies indicate these issues are major contributors to pain and fatigue those with fibromyalgia experience. Even still, there is no clinical evidence available to support the claim that using supplements will help treat the condition. However, because vitamin D is pulled from sunlight, and vitamin D does play a role in muscle and nerve function, spending a bit more time in the sun may help improve your muscle and nerve function, thereby mitigating pain in a flare up.
Magnesium deficiency may cause muscle cramps and spasms. If possible, try to increase your intake naturally through adding more green leafy vegetables, meat and milk to your diet. If you cannot get enough through your natural diet, adding a multi-vitamin with magnesium may help.
2) S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
SAMe is a naturally occurring substance in the body, playing a role in many of its processes. As such, it is has been studied for its pain relief qualities. It has been shown to help relieve depression, as well as the pain associated with osteoarthritis. The substance is not found in food but is available in supplement form as a tablet. Though a few studies have been conducted in terms of how SAMe may be able to help fibromyalgia, the studies are small, and not all of them have found a connection between the supplement and the relief of pain, stiffness and fatigue associated with the condition.
3) Capsaicin Application
Capsaicin is the naturally occurring chemical in peppers that make them hot. It is used in a variety of products—in weight loss products it is designed to boost the metabolism to help you burn more fat because it raises your body temperature. It is also considered a natural pain reliever and as such is used in many sprays and creams you can get over the counter. It has been used to help treat the pain associated with diabetes, cancer, and headaches. It may also provide temporary pain relief of fibromyalgia pain.
4) Chiropractic Manipulation
Chiropractic medicine uses spinal manipulation and realignment to help relieve pain, promote natural healing, and improve body function. The medicine has been studied for the treatment of many chronic pain conditions. Studies have shown it may be an effective treatment for back, headache, and neck pain. It may provide help with fibromyalgia pain, though the National Institutes of Health say there is not enough evidence to recommend it as a viable treatment option.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health ailments. Studies show that when acupuncture is combined with electrical pulses, in a practice known as electroacupuncture, that pain relief can be achieved. Though effective in the short term, the pain relief does not last long.
6) Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is perhaps the most common form of alternative pain treatment patients with fibromyalgia use to treat the condition. The benefits are hard to demonstrate effectively in clinical studies, but it is helpful for many types of muscle pain, including that as a result of fibromyalgia. It is also generally safe, even recommended during pregnancy. While massage may promote relaxation and relieve muscle tightness, it will not likely provide any long term pain relief.
This form of alternative medicine uses the mind-body connection to help you learn to use the power of your mind to control the pain you feel. You will receive biofeedback through changes in skin temperature, muscle tension, or through measurement of brain waves. Though not particularly effective for fibromyalgia on its own, it has shown promise when used in conjunction with other treatments.
8) Melatonin Supplementation
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the body, thought to play a role in promoting sleep. In supplement form, it is most commonly used as a sleep aid. However, it is also useful in treating chronic fatigue and depression. As such, it may also help with the pain associated with fibromyalgia, though experts claim there is not enough evidence to support it as an effective treatment.
In a small study, women with fibromyalgia who went to a two hour Yoga class once a week, and practiced at home for 20 to 40 minutes a day reported a 31% decrease in pain and fatigue symptoms. It’s thought the breathing techniques and poses trigger a relaxation response, which alters the body’s pain signals.
10) Tai Chi
The controlled breathing and movements in this exercise help to relax the body into a restful state, which may alter the body’s pain cycle.
11) Weight Loss
Weight loss can also help play a critical role in reducing your symptoms, and even preventing you from developing the condition in the first place. Norweigian research studies indicate women who were overweight or obese had a 60% to 70% higher risk of developing the condition compared to women who had a normal BMI. Though they are not sure why this is the case, it is thought to be the elevated level of cytokines, or inflammatory hormones in the body, that are common in both obese people and those with fibromyalgia.
Losing weight will reduce this substance in the body, while also helping to alleviate pain in the muscles, bones, and joints because the body is bearing less weight. If you can change your diet and lifestyle to help you lose just 4.4% of your body weight, you could see a dramatic reduction in your symptoms. For instance, if you weigh 175 pounds, you would only need to lose 7.7 pounds to see a difference in how your body feels.
Through these natural treatment options for fibromyalgia, one thing is clear; even though it is hard to move when you are in pain, movement is a key way to help ease or even stop the pain. Being active and making dietary changes to keep your weight and nutrition in check can help change your fibromyalgia from a bother into a thing of the past. Talk to your doctor to learn more about these treatment options and to discuss what may work best for you. Be careful to follow your doctor’s orders to avoid injury or causing a flare up.