Fighting Fibromyalgia

Researching this article the first description to appear on the search engine was “Fibromyalgia is a fairly common long-term (chronic) condition that causes widespread muscular pain. It is not inflammatory or degenerative so it won’t cause permanent damage to your muscles, bones or joints. It is not life threatening or progressive”.

This may well be factually correct but the people I have seen in my clinic suffering with Fibromyalgia will tell you it is so much more than that. I find that although this is a common condition it is shockingly undiagnosed and the extent of suffering caused is not, generally, fully acknowledged.

Fibromyalgia is debilitating and frustrating. Although musculo-skeletal pain is often seen as the main ‘symptom’, it can also cause chronic, disabling fatigue; tender spots on the neck, shoulders, back and hips; constant aches; general stiffness; sleep disturbances; depression; allergic rhinitis, and occasionally cardiovascular problems.
Research has shown that the painful muscle characteristics of fibromyalgia are due to lowered energy production and a reduction in the ability of muscles to relax.

Orthodox treatments may include pain killers, low level antidepressants which relieve muscle pain, sleeping tablets and muscle relaxants. However there are some natural methods you can try to reduce your symptoms. As is usually the case with holistic help there have been studies into these methods showing positive results, but not conclusive or widespread enough to be accepted by orthodox practitioners. I have found the results in clinic encouraging and balancing hormones, adrenal glands and the thyroid can greatly decrease the unpleasant symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Try the tips below (not all at once!) and see what works for you. I recommend keeping a journal to document methods you try and the impact on your symptoms.

Magnesium - encourages muscles to relax.

Vitamin D - levels have found to be low in people experiencing fibromyalgia and may be responsible for some chronic pain.

Omega 3s - to improve mood.

Selenium - for optimum immune function.

A good quality multivitamin.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) - SAMe is a naturally occurring substance throughout the body and has been shown to relieve depression and chronic pain. Some studies show that taking SAMe may reduce fibromyalgia symptoms of pain, fatigue, and stiffness.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) - the supplement 5-HTP is thought to work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. There is preliminary evidence that it may reduce the number of tender points in people with fibromyalgia, possibly by effecting pain-modulating systems in the brainstem.

Vitamin B12 - a Swedish study demonstrated low levels of vitamin B12 in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Take to increase your energy levels.

Topical Remedies
Topically apply Capsaicin (a natural pain reliever found in chilli peppers). When applied to a painful area of the body, it stimulates the release of a body chemical called substance P. As substance P is depleted, the pain sensation seems to decrease.

Try Chamomile or Valerian tea before bed to aid your sleep.

Eat plenty of magnesium rich foods such as green vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Keep foods as natural and unprocessed as possible. Eat in season and keep your diet varied.

There have been numerous small studies showing improvements in fibromyalgia patients’ pain levels, sleep and flexibility following a raw food diet. Eating raw means the heat hasn’t destroyed the nutrients in the food and the body has to process less food to gain essential nutrients.

Eliminate food intolerances
There are foods such as the Nightshade Family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine), wheat, dairy, MSG and artificial sweetners that are thought to be linked to fibromyalgia flare ups. Try getting tested for intolerances (through a lab or kinesiologist) or eliminating foods (one at a time) and documenting any change to your symptoms in your journal. Radical changes of diet are best carried out with the supervision of a qualified nutritional therapist.

Holistic Therapies
There are numerous therapies that may help manage your symptoms including acupuncture, massage, kinesiology and reflexology. Try asking fellow sufferers via on-line groups what has worked for them.

Relax and reduce stress
Physical symptoms can be caused and aggravated by our emotional states although we may not be consciously aware of any such factors. Therapies such as TFT, Mind Detox Method, NLP and CBT may be helpful in eliminating any negative beliefs or emotions which may be contributing to your condition.

Daily meditation is essential and proven to calm the pain experiencing areas of the brain and boost the coping areas.

Although this can be tough when experiencing severe fatigue, certain types of gentle exercise within your means can be beneficial.

Psycholcalisthenics exercises involving precise breathing patterns are effective in improving health without exacerbating the fatigue felt in this condition.

Qi Gong and yoga, both body awareness forms of exercise, are gentle, will encourage you to breathe correctly and calm the mental chatter.

The above is not intended to replace medical advice.

Author's Bio: 

Louise Jensen is an award winning Kinesiologist and is certified in many therapies, including the Mind Detox Method (as featured on Discovery Health) where she graduated from the Mind Detox Academy in record time. A regular writer, Louise has overcome living with a disability and has 12 years’ experience in helping others to heal. In 2012 Louise co-created The Happy Starfish, an online community dedicated to celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living.