Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a complex and poorly understood disease. People
with fibromyalgia experience fatigue and muscle pain. The goals of treatment
for fibromyalgia are to reduce muscle pain and stiffness, improve sleep, and
teach patients to recognize and reduce stress. There are alternative treatments
that show promise, but the results of studies are mixed and there is still a
need for high-quality research to be done.
However, many people have had success in using alternative
treatments for many conditions, including fibromyalgia. Before trying any
alternative treatments, you should check with your doctor to be sure that the methods
are safe and right for you.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture is a practice of traditional Chinese medicine that
involves inserting thin needles into points on the body. The purpose, according
to the traditional practitioners of this technique, is to balance the flow of a
form of energy called “chi” through the body. Acupressure
is similar, but applies pressure to the same points rather than using needles
and can be self-administered.
Acupuncture and acupressure have gained greater popularity and availability
in Western cultures for many years now. Modern scientific analysis of the
practice suggests that in acupuncture, the thin needles inserted into
particular areas of the skin somehow leads to the release of chemicals in the
body that may have beneficial effects on numerous conditions including various
painful conditions including fibromyalgia. According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies show these methods
to be effective in pain treatment. However, other studies show no benefit. They
may be able to reduce pain and improve sleep for some people, but effectiveness
of acupuncture and acupressure is unclear.
Chiropractic care uses various techniques to correct
misalignment of the spine and other joints in order to relieve pain and other
symptoms. Chiropractors may also incorporate stretching and massage techniques.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that teaches you to focus on
the present moment. It often incorporates relaxation techniques, deep
breathing, and yoga-style stretching. By focusing on the present moment, some
patients can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study
published in the journal Psychotherapy and
Psychosomatics suggested that this type of meditation could possibly reduce
pain for women with fibromyalgia and help them better cope with the anxiety and
depression associated with the disorder.
Several over-the-counter herbs and natural supplements have
shown promise for reducing stress and promoting sleep. However, these options
often have side effects and could interact with other prescription drugs you
are taking. Always speak with your doctor before adding a supplement to your
Magnesium is a mineral found in many foods. It is suggested that
fibromyalgia patients tend to lack the right amount of magnesium. A lack of
magnesium can also disrupt nerve function, exacerbating pain.
The findings on fibromyalgia and magnesium are mixed. Some
studies suggest that magnesium supplements help alleviate some symptoms of
fibromyalgia, while other research indicates that it doesn’t.
Melatonin is a hormone the body uses to regulate sleep cycles.
It’s produced after exposure to light and released during the dark evening
hours. Melatonin may help
people with jet lag and insomnia, but evidence for its ability to improve sleep
in fibromyalgia patients is unclear. According to the National
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA), some have
reported it helping with sleep. However, melatonin can cause a number of side
effects, including grogginess, low sex drive, depression, and headaches.
Additionally, melatonin should not be taken by anyone with an accompanying
autoimmune disorder, as it may stimulate inflammation in these people.
Valerian is an herb that can improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and
relax muscles. There have been no studies of valerian use for fibromyalgia, but
it has shown promise for other diseases. It may help people by aiding in relaxation,
leading to better sleep and less tense muscles.
No matter what type of treatment you choose,
discuss it with your doctor first. Though alternative medicines are often
marketed as risk-free, even herbs have side effects. Discussing your options
with your doctor will help ensure you are making a healthy choice.