Fybromyalgia: A Quest for Natural Relief
Fybromyalgia is a syndrome more than a disease. A syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to happen together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause. A disease, however, has a specific cause and identifiable signs and symptoms. But for the many people who suffer from this debilitating condition, whether or not a disease, life becomes a battle. Besides the inflammation and pain, this condition can be combined with headaches, fatigue, sleeplessness, irritable bowel syndrome, memory or concentration problem, the list goes on. The word, itself, comes from a Latin and Greek word combination, the Latin, fybro, meaning fibrous tissue and the Greek words myo for muscle and algia for pain.
Fybromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, although it is not actually a form of arthritis. It causes no inflammation to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. However, like arthritis, fibromyalgia causes significant pain and can interfere with or debilitate a person’s daily life. Also, like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes continuous pain.
Natural Approaches to Help With Chronic Pain
While there is no cure yet, there are several natural remedies that may help relieve the pain. About 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients use some form of these. However, since there are no clinical studies for most of these procedures, the only way to see which one works for you is to try each one.
Vitamin D Treatment
According to studies on fibromyalgia patients, both vitamin D and magnesium are low in people suffering from fibromyalgia. Of course, that doesn’t mean that taking vitamin D and magnesium supplements will cure the condition. It is interesting to note, however, that vitamin D does have some effect on nerve and muscle function. Some studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D may be associated with the pain of fibromyalgia, but no conclusive evidence has been found thus far.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest treatments for pain and is founded on ancient Chinese medical practices. There have been several studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture and fibromyalgia. Three of them support use of combined acupuncture along with a pulsed electric current called electroacupuncture. This combination seems to relieve the pain, but the results do not last long.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for Fybromyalgia
Since SAMe occurs naturally throughout the body and is involved in the body’s many processes, its role as a pain reliever has been studied. It has been shown to reduce chronic pain and relieve depression associated with osteoarthritis. Some studies have shown that SAMe may reduce the pain, fatigue, and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia. However, the studies supporting this naturally occurring substance are small and not all have found a benefit. More research is needed. On the other hand, it is worth a try. SAMe is not found in food but it can be purchased as a supplement and taken in tablet form.
Message therapy is another treatment for fibromyalgia. It is the most commonly tried treatment by patients. The benefits of message are hard to demonstrate in clinical studies but it does seem to work for many types of muscle pain, including fibromyalgia. Being a generally safe procedure, message would be a good way to relieve the tightness and promote relaxation to those poor muscles. However, as with many of the other treatments, the results are not long-lasting.
Capsaicin is a substance that is found in pepper plants and is considered a natural pain reliever. In fact, it is the active ingredient found in many over-the-counter pain relief lotions and sprays. When applied to a painful area, capsaicin triggers the release of a body chemical called substance P. As substance P is depleted, the pain in that area deceases. Capsaicin has been used to treat diabetes, cancer, and cluster headaches. It may also cause the temporary relief of fibromyalgia pain.
Our minds are very powerful things and the mind can have interesting effects on the body. Biofeedback is an alternative treatment that uses the mind-body connection to help control chronic pain with the power of the mind. The feedback may come in the form of temperature, brain wave, or muscle tension measurements. It is helpful with many types of painful conditions when used along with other treatments. However, as with some of the other treatments, there is not enough good evidence that this therapy is helpful with fibromyalgia pain.
Chiropractic manipulation uses spinal manipulation and realignment to relieve many different chronic pains associated with back, neck, and/or headache. Chiropractic treatments have been well-documented for many types of pain but for fibromyalgia, this alternative treatment has not had enough evidence to warrant its use. However, it is definitely worth trying.
Melatonin Hormone for Fybromyalgia
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body thought to be involved in promoting sleep. In pill form, this hormone is used as a sleep aid, but is also used to treat depression, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Again, as with the other treatments, experts say there is not enough evidence to support its use for treating chronic pain from fibromyalgia.
Although there is a lack of research reports supporting the use of most natural alternative treatments, there are many people who get relief. As with any alternative, always consult your doctor first before beginning treatment.