Life can be tough when you’re living with fibromyalgia. In fact, it usually is. This puzzling chronic pain disorder affects every part of your day. You’re exhausted, you can’t think clearly, and your body aches. You’re frustrated and wish it would just go away. But it never does.
To make things worse, the pain that you experience hurts not only your body but also your personal relationships and your professional life, affecting your physical and emotional well-being. The good news is that there are ways to improve your condition. Sure, there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, but when you know how to deal with the pain and symptoms, living with the disorder becomes a whole lot easier.
Here are 13 treatments that can effectively relieve fibromyalgia pain…
Pain Relief Drugs
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief drugs can be very useful in reducing inflammation and managing fibromyalgia pain and aches. In some cases, however, prescription medications are needed.
Painkillers that are commonly used to treat pain from fibromyalgia include acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, and opioid painkillers such as tramadol.
Many people living with fibromyalgia benefit from taking antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
These drugs reduce pain by raising serotonin and norepinephrine levels, which may also relieve other symptoms. Duloxetine and milnacipran are two SNRI antidepressants that are often prescribed.
Some anticonvulsant drugs designed to treat epilepsy seizures can relieve fibromyalgia pain. They do so by preventing excess pain signals from being sent from sensitive nerves to the brain.
The two main anti-seizure medications prescribed for treating pain from fibromyalgia are pregabalin (approved for use by the FDA in 2004) and gabapentin, which works in a similar way to pregabalin.
Because fibromyalgia is associated with chronic inflammation, following an anti-inflammatory diet can often reduce fibro pain. Even just avoiding foods known to cause inflammation can be helpful.
Known dietary triggers of inflammation include sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Experts also recommend avoiding MSG, lactose, and aspartame, as they excite the nervous system and interrupt serotonin.
Deficiencies in certain nutrients can worsen and may even trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, one of which is pain. By effectively reversing these deficiencies with supplements, one can find symptomatic relief.
Nutritional deficiencies that have been linked to fibromyalgia include iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, and magnesium deficiency. Low levels of manganese and calcium may also worsen the condition.
Exercise is one of the best natural methods of relieving fibromyalgia pain and tenderness, particularly aerobic exercises such as running, bicycling, and swimming. Walking is good, too.
While it may seem counterproductive to go for a jog when you’re hurting all over, research has shown that exercises for fibromyalgia can relieve pain during flare-ups. Regular exercise can prevent flare-ups.
According to researchers, fibromyalgia sufferers who regularly engage in yoga that incorporates breathing exercises, gentle poses, and meditation experience less pain than those who don’t.
In addition, sufferers also experience reduced fatigue and improved mood. Are fibromyalgia symptoms getting you down? Take up yoga. Just be sure to inform your instructors about your condition.
Tai chi, like yoga, incorporates controlled movements, meditation, and deep breathing. This can alleviate pain associated with fibromyalgia while improving balance, strength, and stamina.
When you have fibromyalgia, tai chi can be very beneficial. In studies, tai chi was shown to be effective at relieving FM symptoms. One US trial even found it to be more effective than aerobic exercise.
Fibromyalgia tends to cause pain throughout the body, as well as tenderness in the joints, muscles, and tendons. Thus, massage can be an effective way to practice pain management.
Massage improves circulation, relaxes muscles, and reduces stress and anxiety. It also releases endorphins (pain-killing hormones), boosting dopamine and serotonin levels in the body.
Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that encourages blood flow changes and alters neurotransmitter activity in the brain. This can reduce the intensity and frequency of fibromyalgia pain.
In a recent study, sufferers who underwent acupuncture experienced less pain for up to two years. Needles aren’t for everybody, though. For those who can’t tolerate them, acupressure may be beneficial.
Some of the active ingredients in medical marijuana can reduce pain and stiffness with fibromyalgia. They can also enhance relaxation, induce sleepiness, and produce feelings of well-being.
Although further research is needed on how medical marijuana may affect people living with fibromyalgia, a large percentage of those who use it report that it is effective at relieving symptoms.
Biofeedback therapy involves being connected to electrical sensors to learn about your body functions in order to be able to control them better. It can aid in reducing fibromyalgia pain and muscle tension.
Therapeutic biofeedback may work for some sufferers and not for others. That being said, there aren’t any side effects or safety issues associated with the technique, so it’s an FM treatment worth trying.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and teaching techniques to manage them. These techniques can help to minimize fibromyalgia pain.
How a person perceives their condition can affect how they experience their symptoms. A lack of social support and stress are other influencing factors. CBT addresses these issues.