What Exactly is Fibromyalgia?
The literal translation of the word “fibromyalgia” is “pain in the muscles.”
Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain disorder that may cause pain in a specific area of the body. The pain may also become widespread and migrate to other areas of the body.
About 10 million Americans are affected by fibromyalgia. Most fibromyalgia patients are women, though men do get diagnosed with the disorder as well. Fibromyalgia can occur in people of all ages.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary from person to person. Some general symptoms include:
- Pain throughout the body
- Stiffness in limbs and joints
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Pain in the jaw area or the face
- Anxiety and depression
- Cloudy thinking, memory problems, or difficulty focusing
- Sleep issues
- Abdominal pain, bloating, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
What are the Causes and Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia affects people of all ages. However, for most people, diagnosis usually occurs during middle age.
Fibromyalgia also has been linked to autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. People with PTSD, anxiety, or depression also have a higher risk of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
Doctors may find fibromyalgia a challenge to diagnose. Because there’s no definitive test or scan that can diagnose fibromyalgia immediately, other disorders have to be ruled out before a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made.
Often, patients seek multiple medical opinions and have to rule out different disorders to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
You should know that pain management is possible, even though fibromyalgia doesn’t have a cure. Pain management of fibromyalgia can be achieved through a variety of chronic pain management interventions, with a mix of traditional and alternative treatments.
There are many natural and holistic pain management methods that work to reduce the pain.
Unfortunately, chronic pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia. The chronic pain can manifest as muscle tenderness or sensitivity, joint pain or stiffness, or even as full-body aches and pains. Treatment needs to include some form of daily chronic pain management.
The Institute for Chronic Pain endorses interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation as the “gold standard for treatment” of fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that multidisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation was effective at reducing chronic pain and increasing quality of life among fibromyalgia sufferers.
Interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation consists of mild aerobic exercise and other types of physical therapy as needed, and non-narcotic pain medication. This can also include non-traditional, alternative forms of treatment.
Interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation utilizes a variety of treatments from various disciplines, specially tailored to each individual patient. Interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation addresses the individualized nature of fibromyalgia, and can lead to an improved quality of life.
The National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA)
promotes a combination of traditional and alternative treatments stating, “Alternative treatments, nutrition, relaxation techniques, and exercise play an important role in fibromyalgia treatment as well. Each patient should, with the input of a healthcare practitioner, establish a multifaceted and individualized approach that works for them.”
Chronic Pain Management Options for Fibromyalgia
There are various methods fibromyalgia sufferers can use to manage their pain. Many fibromyalgia patients use more than one pain management method. These pain-reducing methods include, but are not limited to:
Although fibromyalgia causes chronic pain, it’s still important for patients to exercise as much as can be tolerated. Exercise can help alleviate stress and distract the mind. Simple stretching exercises can assist individuals with fibromyalgia to loosen tight muscles, providing affected areas with increased blood circulation and decreasing pain. Even just going for a 30 minute walk is helpful to get the blood circulating.
Chronic pain medication for fibromyalgia may initially include some trial-and-error when attempting to find the right medication. Because the pain symptoms of fibromyalgia differ from person to person, what is useful for one individual may not be effective for another.
Many pain medications have uncomfortable side effects, which is why many fibromyalgia sufferers seek out natural pain management techniques instead.
Traditional Medication: Analgesics and Nerve Pain Medication
The traditional prescription medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia are pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella).
Non-narcotic pain relievers (e.g. tramadol) or lidocaine injections may also be prescribed to reduce stiffness and pain.
Traditional Medication: Antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s)
Although antidepressants like tricyclics are known to be the most effective against fibromyalgia, the Institute for Chronic Pain Management does state they are “also known to have the most side effects.”
Never start any medication without first getting your doctor or pharmacist to explain the medication’s side effects to you.
Alternative / Natural Medication: St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is typically used as a natural treatment for depression. However, a 2010 study
showed St. John’s Wort as an effective nerve pain medication. St. John’s Wort also helps to relieve the stress induced by fibromyalgia pain. St. Johns’s Wart can have a calming effect on nerves. In the case of fibromyalgia, John’s Wort can help to alleviate sharp or shooting nerve pain. Fibromyalgia patients who are already taking any medication for depression should consult their physicians before taking St. John’s Wort due to any additive effects.
Alternative / Natural Medication: Ginseng
In a 2013 study
, ginseng was shown to naturally “reduce the number of tender points and increase the quality of life” in patients with fibromyalgia. Ginseng can have a caffeine-like effect, providing fibromyalgia patients with a boost of energy.
Alternative / Natural Medication: Melatonin
In a 2014 study in BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology
, research on melatonin demonstrated it to be an effective pain analgesic for fibromyalgia. Melatonin can also assist fibromyalgia patients with insomnia by performing as a sleep aid.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Many fibromyalgia patients state that symptoms worsen during periods of stress, making stress reduction a priority for fibromyalgia patients. Stress reduction techniques help to loosen the muscles and relieve the tension resulting from fibromyalgia.
Stress reduction and relaxation exercises include deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and journaling or drawing. Positive self-soothing skills are beneficial for every fibromyalgia patient.
Many alternative therapies are beneficial for fibromyalgia and qualify as part of interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation. These therapies include, but are not limited to:
In a 2011 study in the Journal of Pain Research
, yoga demonstrated effectiveness at providing people with chronic pain some relief. Yoga stretches the muscles and combines breathing techniques, which could help fibromyalgia patients control their stress and manage their body pains.
Small, thin needles inserted into the skin on strategic areas of the body can be used to treat fibromyalgia. Mainly used for treating pain, acupuncture is a traditional Chinese alternative therapy. Studies
have shown acupuncture to be an effective alternative therapy for fibromyalgia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can teach patients with fibromyalgia how to manage chronic pain. Studies have shown that CBT can be just as effective as pain medication in the treatment of chronic pain. By changing negative thought patterns, people with chronic pain can decrease their pain and internalize their pain in a different context. CBT aims to train the mind to use better coping strategies and reframe situations that can cause stress or trigger pain. CBT is also beneficial in addressing the psychological concerns that could make chronic pain worse.
Since a large component of pain is mindset, learning to develop a more positive mindset surrounding one’s pain can actually help them manage their pain more effectively.
Frequency Energy Therapy
Frequency energy therapy is a lesser-known method of pain management, but recent clinical studies have shown that this alternative method produces impressively effective pain-reducing results.
This type of pain management technique is non-invasive, non-chemical, and all-natural.
Frequency therapy is the practice of introducing a mild electrical current into an area of damaged tissue where the injury or strain took place.
When it comes to frequency therapy, Vitalfield Technologies
has just introduced a wearable patch called the Energy Cell
to safely and naturally reduce pain.
The Energy Cell was recently made possible due to major scientific breakthroughs, and this alternative pain management technique is based on over thirty years of research and development.
To help you understand how this all-natural pain-relieving technique works, you need to know about Vital Fields. You see, in life, organic and inorganic matter manifest subtle energy fields that help regulate our body chemistry and cellular life. We refer to these life-promoting frequencies as Vital Fields.
Vital Fields (and Vitalfield’s Energy Cell) are advanced forms of frequency therapy for pain management.
For the very first time in history, Vital Field pain-relieving techniques are available to anyone and everyone via wearable devices and the Vitalfield Energy Cell.
Vitalfield’s Energy Cell is made possible by recent scientific breakthroughs, a patented EMF material that can retain and emit Vital Fields, and a composite cell material that stores the Vital Field therapy in a wearable patch that you place on your body.
The Energy Cell patch influences cell activity in the body, enhancing cell communication and expediting cell regeneration. The Energy Cell therefore possesses the ability to naturally heal the chronic pain you’re experiencing.
Vitalfield’s clinical studies have reported zero negative side-effects of the Energy Cell method, and significant reduction in pain – sometimes a complete elimination of pain.
Testimonials That Advocate for Holistic Pain Management
The American College of Health Sciences
provided a two part series on fibromyalgia, a fibromyalgia patient’s journey with holistic therapy. Upon being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, patient Penny P. tried conventional therapies, which did not work for her as she had hoped. Upon incorporating alternative therapies such as yoga and diet changes, she stated, “The results are promising and the future is bright. While my journey through conventional medicine has done wonders to inform and shed light on my condition, many of the treatments I find effective are not commonly suggested by physicians, and the pharmaceutical solutions offered by classical physicians just didn’t mesh with my sensitive biology. I learned from my expedition into alternative medicine for the treatment of my condition, and share how complementary and classical medicine are not mutually exclusive.”
Just like Penny, many fibromyalgia patients have to try many different pain management techniques before they find one that works for them. It’s quite common to find that natural or alternative methods work better than traditional methods.
The best thing you can do is try out a variety of pain management methods, both traditional and alternative.