ALTERNATIVE FYBROMYALGIA TREATMENTS
Although there are many drugs and other medications for fybromyalgia (FMS), about 90 percent of the people with this debilitating syndrome use alternative treatments to help with their situation. Even though research is mixed on the effectiveness of many of these practices, the National Fibromyalgia Association says alternative treatments can play an important role in the treatment of FMS. The group urges patients to consult a medical professional to establish a multifaceted and individualized approach that works for them. Here are some of the alternative treatments that patients use to help with FMS symptoms.
Exercise is an important complement to conventional medical treatment of fibromyalgia and has been found to improve outcomes for people with fibromyalgia, especially using low-impact regular or warm-water exercise. If you use exercise as a treatment for your fybromyalgia, it is important that you begin slowly. You may start with just a few minutes of slow, gentle stretches and gradually, over time, work up to 20-30 minutes. Water aerobics is another favorite because you are practically weightless in the water which allows your body to easily adjust to stretching and gentle movements.
People with fibromyalgia often have trouble sleeping so they sometimes turn to supplements that have a reputation for helping people sleep. Among these, melatonin has drawn perhaps the most attention; preliminary results found it not only improves sleep patterns, it actually might help fibromyalgia pain.
Other sleep-aid supplements include lavender, chamomile, valerian, hops, and skullcap. However, research is mixed on their effectiveness for insomnia, and there’s no evidence that any work for fibromyalgia. You would have to try them for yourself to see if these herbs do help with your sleep issues.
Other supplements like SAMe has shown mixed results in clinical tests. However, SAMe and others like St. John’s Wort, and MSM have their own cheer leaders who say these supplements work for them in relieving joint pain or depression. Of course, always consult your doctors before beginning any supplements as some of these can interfere with other medications you may be taking.
Massage therapy shows promise for fibromyalgia. At least two studies have reported a benefit, but others have found only fleeting benefit or no improvement. However, there are many people who say the practice of massage helped in their relief of muscle pain and stiffness symptoms. Personally, I believe massage, if done properly, can really help relieve pain, improve circulation, and help relax tense muscles. A good massage therapist would be the professional to see in this case.
Recent research found the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi had benefits for musculoskeletal pain, depression, and quality of life in fibromyalgia patients. It’s unclear why it might work, and more study is needed, but tai chi is sometimes called “moving meditation” and meditation is thought to bring health benefits through stress reduction and physical relaxation.
Whether acupuncture is beneficial to fybromyalgia is still up for debate. More research has to be made. However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggest acupuncture has some benefits for FMS. With acupuncture, a practitioner inserts one or more dry needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific points. Gently twisting or otherwise manipulating the needles causes a measurable release of endorphins into the bloodstream and energy blocks are removed. Practitioners say removing them is said to restore the flow of energy along the meridians, which are specific energy channels.
Studies show that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry. It appears to do this by changing the release of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in the brain that relay information about external stimuli and sensations such as pain. This way, a patient’s pain tolerance is increased. One acupuncture treatment in some patients may last weeks to help alleviate chronic pain.
Chiropractic treatments are very common for fybromyalgia patients and based on the principle that the body is a self-healing organism. People use it to treat pain of pressure points, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and pain from musculoskeletal injuries. Chiropractic treatment may be effective for fibromyalgia because it helps improve pain levels and increase cervical and lumbar ranges of motion. To reduce pain and increase healing, the doctor of chiropractic uses spinal adjustments. The goal is to increase the mobility between spinal vertebrae, which have become restricted, locked, or slightly out of proper position.
Alternative treatments for fybromyalgia are varied and not all of them work for everyone. To achieve the best results, it is advisable to use them along with any treatments your doctor prescribes for your symptoms. With a varied treatment plan, you and your doctor can establish a system that will work for you.