Posted on Jul 24, 2020, 4 p.m.
Treatment for pain doesn’t always have to be in the form of a prescription drug, whether the pain be from fibromyalgia or something else there are natural approaches that may help to ease your chronic pain.
Fibromyalgia affects about 1 in every 50 Americans with its almost daily widespread muscle pain, constant fatigue, sleeplessness, fibro brain fog, and low grade depression. There is no known cure for this condition which is most likely because it is not understood very well, thus the search for the best way to treat fibromyalgia is ongoing.
Studies suggest that fibromyalgia may begin as young as in childhood or in the teenage years, particularly in adolescent girls, and it gradually progresses with age. Because of the common symptoms fibromyalgia may be misdiagnosed in mature adults who can view the mysterious pain they are experiencing as being just another sign of getting older.
Fibromyalgia is not a sign of aging, this commonly underdiagnosed syndrome is the most common arthritis related disease next to osteoarthritis, and it is characterized by concentration problems, decreased pain threshold, higher levels of stress/anxiety, incapacitating fatigue, increased sensitivities to environmental stimuli, irritable bowel syndrome, low moods, tension headaches, migraines, TMJ disorder, and widespread pain.
Although women are about 10 times more likely to experience this syndrome, men can still have fibromyalgia. Currently there are no specific laboratory testing or abnormal X-ray findings that can lead to diagnosis. Research suggests that fibromyalgia may be related to hormones, genetic predisposition, elevated substance P levels, hypersensitivity to pain, malfunction of pain processing in the spinal cord, nervous system trauma, stress, obesity/overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Some research indicates that the pain from this syndrome may be the result of lower levels of serotonin brain chemicals that send messages from one brain cell to another, as lower levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to poor sleep and a decreased pain threshold.
Different symptoms of fibromyalgia can be managed with many patients finding natural remedies helpful, and 90% of those with this syndrome have tried some form of alternative relief. Many nonpharmacologic therapies have been shown in a growing body of evidence to support pain relief, many of these have been shown to be safe. However, more research is needed to confirm which populations the specific therapy will be most effective in, thus it is recommended to consult with your physician or certified medical professional to find out what is most appropriate for your needs.
Those with fibromyalgia have been found to typically have low levels of both vitamin D and magnesium. Though there is little evidence that supports these relatively safe natural remedy interventions as effective treatment for this syndrome, research does indicate that they do have some effects on nerve and muscle function, and some studies suggest that low levels may be associated with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.
Ancient Chinese traditional medical practices use acupuncture to treat chronic pain, and there are several studies that suggest this alternative approach may be useful as a natural remedy for the symptoms of fibromyalgia. But while this treatment appears to offer some relief the results are not very long lasting.
S-adenosylmethionine occurs naturally within the body and it is involved in many processes, and its role as a pain reliever has been studied. While SAMe is not a medicine for fibromyalgia this over the counter dietary supplement has been shown to help with depression and chronic pain that is associated with osteoarthritis. Although more research is needed some studies suggest that this supplement may also help with the fatigue stiffness and pain experienced in those with fibromyalgia.
Another alternative pain treatment that is commonly used to help treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia that are hard to demonstrate in clinical trials are the benefits of massage therapy. Massage therapy is typically safe, it may relieve tightness and promote relaxation, and it may help to relieve muscle pain, but these benefits may not provide any long term help and results vary from person to person.
Some use capsaicin topical application as a natural remedy to help with pain relief. When applied topically to an area of pain capsaicin stimulates the release of substance P, and as this chemical is depleted the pain sensations appear to decrease. This approach is used to treat chronic pain in diabetes, cancer, as well as cluster headaches, and it may help to provide some temporary relief of fibromyalgia pain.
An alternative approach that is getting popular is called biofeedback, this therapy uses the mind-body connection to help you learn how to better control chronic pain with the power of your mind. This therapy may be helpful for various conditions when used along with other therapies, and it may be used in the form of muscle tension, skin temperature, or brain wave measurements. However, more long term studies are required to determine if biofeedback therapy is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia.
Chiropractic medicine is another form of alternative treatment which uses spinal manipulation and realignment to provide pain relief, improve function, and promote natural healing. This alternative approach has been studied in many chronic pain conditions with most suggesting that it may be effective for relief of back, neck or headache pain, and although some fibromyalgia patients report finding it to be helpful the National Institutes of Health state that more research is required to determine if it is effective.
Although most commonly associated with sleep, the natural hormone melatonin has been found to be useful with the depression and chronic fatigue of fibromyalgia. As far as pain goes, like most options, although patients report usefulness, more research is required to determine if it is effective.
As with most natural and alternative treatments despite the lack of research to support it many do find them to be useful. If you are considering trying any alternative medicine or approach it is recommended to first consult with your primary care provider or certified medical professional to come up with a plan suited to your needs to avoid the possibility of any unwanted side effects and benefit from the best possible results.
Materials provided by:
Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.