Fibromyalgia is a complex and poorly understood disease. People with fibromyalgia experience fatigue and muscle pain. The goal of fibromyalgia treatment is to:
- reduce muscle pain and stiffness
- improve sleep
- teach people to recognize and reduce stress
Alternative treatments for fibromyalgia show promise, but results of studies are mixed. More research is necessary. Before trying any alternative treatments, check with your doctor to be sure they’re safe and right for you.
Acupuncture is a practice of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into points on the body. The purpose is to balance the flow of energy, or "qi," through the body. Acupressure is similar, but it involves applying pressure rather than using needles at the same points along the body. Acupressure can be self-administered.
Acupuncture and acupressure have become more popular and are more available in Western cultures today. People use acupuncture to manage pain and treat many conditions, including fibromyalgia. According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies show these methods to be effective in pain treatment, but other studies show no benefit. Acupuncture and acupressure may be able to reduce pain and improve sleep for some people, but their effectiveness is unclear.
These two practices use both the mind and the body. These practices use meditation, slow movement, and relaxation to help reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. This can help lead to a better quality of life. One study showed that an eight-week yoga program greatly reduced fibromyalgia symptoms in the study participants.
Chiropractic care uses various techniques to correct a misalignment of the spine and other joints, and to relieve pain and other symptoms. Chiropractors may also incorporate stretching and massage techniques, which also reduce stress.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that teaches you to focus on the present moment. It often involves:
- relaxation techniques
- deep breathing
- yoga-style stretching
The aim is to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression by focusing on the present moment. One study suggests that mindfulness meditation can possibly reduce pain for women with fibromyalgia and help them better cope with anxiety and depression associated with the disorder.
Several over-the-counter herbs and natural supplements can help reduce stress and promote sleep. Some may have side effects and can interact with prescription drugs. You should always talk to your doctor before adding any herbs or supplements to your treatment plan.
Magnesium is a mineral in many foods. A lack of magnesium can disrupt nerve function and make pain worse. Taking magnesium supplements may help restore nerve function for people with fibromyalgia. Research on magnesium’s benefits for fibromyalgia has mixed results.
Melatonin is a hormone the body uses to regulate sleep cycles. Your body produces it after exposure to light and releases it during the dark evening hours. Melatonin may help people with jet lag and insomnia, but evidence for its ability to improve sleep in people with fibromyalgia is unclear.
Melatonin can cause a number of side effects, including:
- a low sex drive
You shouldn’t take melatonin if you have an autoimmune disorder because it may stimulate inflammation.
Valerian is an herb that can improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and relax muscles. Researchers haven’t studied the use of valerian for fibromyalgia, but it has shown promise for other diseases. It may help people by aiding in relaxation, leading to better sleep and more relaxed muscles.
If standard medical practice isn’t working to help treat your fibromyalgia symptoms, then many alternative therapies are available to help. Scientific studies on some of the alternatives have mixed results. However, certain alternative therapies have relieved fibromyalgia symptoms for some people.
Whatever treatment you choose, talk to your doctor about it first. Alternative medicines are often marketed as risk-free, but herbs and supplements can have side effects. Talk about treatment options with your doctor. They can help you make a healthy choice.
Medically Reviewed by: William A Morrison MD
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.