Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome where pain and tenderness are present on various points of the body. Though there are 18 specific “tender points”, many fibromyalgia sufferers also experience general muscle aches, stiffness, chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and poor digestion. Doctors do not fully understand what causes fibromyalgia or how to relieve fibromyalgia pain. However, in recent years, more and more clues are coming to light that are leading us towards not only on the understanding of what is fibromyalgia, but also in treating it. Discuss treatment options with your doctor or other health care professionals and find out what is the best course of action for you as an individual.
7 Easy Tips To Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain
Tips #1: Exercise
Exercise improves mood, balances hormones, increases energy and gets oxygen moving into the tissues throughout the body. The American Pain Society (APS) rates aerobic exercises as the #1 treatment for symptoms of fibromyalgia, over and above medication and pain killers. But when you are stiff, tired and in pain, you may not want to hear that you should be doing more exercise. But pushing through the mental and physical blocks is an important part of recovery, less fibromyalgia stops you from living your life and improving your symptoms.
The good news is that it is not just the fact-paced aerobic exercises which will benefit fibromyalgia. In fact, slower and gentle forms of exercise are supported by many research studies that it helps in pain and tenderness relief. Placebo-controlled studies on Qi Qong, Tai Chi, and Yoga have concluded that these exercise-based practices not only support mood, energy and overall quality of life. On top of that, it is also effective in controlling the specific symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some manual therapies, such as massage, though have been well researched for their benefits in treating fibromyalgia, the resulting benefits do not last as long as compare with exercise-based therapies.
Tips #2: Balance Serotonin
There is something that a lot of fibromyalgia patients have in common. Besides the fact that they have muscle pain, their level of serotonin is also very low. In a 1989 study, I.J. Russel Et Al discovered that the spinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients were much lower in serotonin than the rest of the population. But what does this mean? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which effects pain intensity, mood balance, energy levels, libido, and sleep quality. Serotonin is made from dietary tryptophan, but less than 1% of tryptophan is used for serotonin production. The other 99% of the tryptophan you eat each day from turkey, soy, chicken, pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, dairy and spirulina is used for other chemical processes.
Because of this, researchers have become very interested in a chemical called 5-HTP, a chemical half-way between tryptophan and serotonin which cannot be used for any purpose other than serotonin production. It is present in some foods, such as griffonia beans and is used as a supplement to boost serotonin production naturally. At least three clinical trials on fibromyalgia patients have determined that 5-HTP supplements reduce pain, anxiety, depression, morning stiffness and fatigue. Compared to prescription drugs, 5-HTP has been shown to be just as effective or more effective with fewer side effects. Talk to your doctor about taking 5-HTP products and find out whether if it is safe to combine with your current medication.
Tips #3: Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most popular supplements for fibromyalgia patients and it is no surprise why. While calcium has received a high level of media attention for decades now, researchers are now beginning to understand the important role of magnesium not only for bones, but also muscle health. Magnesium is a mineral commonly found in dark green leafy vegetables, fish with edible bones (salmon, tuna, sardines etc), nuts and seeds. When a dietary deficiency of magnesium begins, common symptoms include twitchy eyes, poor coordination, muscular cramps, insomnia, low bone density and increased anxiety.
In 2013, researchers from the Acibadem University Medical School in Turkey studied the effects of magnesium citrate (a highly absorbable form of magnesium) in patients with fibromyalgia. Magnesium significantly reduced pain intensity and the number of tender points in those who used it. In addition, the combination of magnesium and amitriptyline works better than amitriptyline by itself. As well as increasing magnesium-rich foods in the diet, a supplement of between 200mg to 600mg of magnesium per day would be highly beneficial for natural symptoms control.
Tips #4: Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a system of holistic medicine that uses extremely diluted extracts to achieve physiological changes. While often approached with a healthy sense of scepticism from both medical practitioners and patients, many studies on homeopathy have found homeopathic remedies to be more effective than placebo in treating a number of conditions including fibromyalgia. In a double-blind placebo controlled study published in the British Medical Journal in 1989, doctors found that a homeopathic preparation of Rhus toxicodenron (Poison Oak) was significantly more effective than placebo in relieving fibromyalgia pain in 30 patients, especially reducing pain and tenderness.
More recently, the University of Arizona funded a clinical study in 2003 that investigated the effectiveness of individualized homeopathic prescriptions in treating 62 fibromyalgia patients. Once again, homeopathy was more effective than placebo in relieving pain, tenderness and improving quality of life. While we may not yet understand just how homeopathy works yet, it is a safe and affordable treatment option for patients with fibromyalgia.
Tips #5: Malic acid
If you want to live a more pain-free life, maybe you should eat more fruits. Many types of fruit, especially grapes and apples are rich in a chemical called malic acid. It is thought that malic acid is responsible for the tartness of many fruit such as green apples, and is often added to candies as a fruity flavoring. While malic acid might makes the fruits to taste good, it also has a number of medicinal benefits that fibromyalgia patients may be interested in. In 1995 the University of Texas Health Science Center studied the effects of high-dose malic acid and low-dose magnesium in patients with fibromyalgia.
The combination was effective in reducing tenderness and muscle pain in the majority of participants over a 2 month period. Why this is so is still unclear even though there are a range of theories. In an article published by The American Chiropractor Magazine in February, 2007, Dr. Daniel J. Murphey states that malic acid plays an important role in the production of cellular energy, a process called ATP synthesis and a deficiency in malic acid may lead to fibromyalgia symptoms.
Tips #6: Sleep Well
When you are in pain, you don’t sleep well. That is a fact. But researchers are now wondering if it is a case of the chicken or the egg. Sleep disturbances may be not just a symptom of fibromyalgia but probably a cause. According to one study published in “Pain Research & Treatment” in 2012, fibromyalgia patients are known to have problems with sleep quality and duration, particularly during the 4th stage of sleep. It is during this time when the body releases two important chemicals, that is Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). These are hormones responsible for the growth, healing and repair of muscle tissues at a microscopic level.
Typically, low levels of HGH and IGF-1 may explain the tenderness and muscle pain that fibromyalgia patients experience. In order to improve your sleep, there are a number of things you can do. Other than sleeping medication, there are a range of natural medicines that are non-addictive and non-drowsy that you can try. Tart cherry extract as a natural source of melatonin, valerian root as a natural sedative and muscle relaxant, withania somnifera as a sedative and anti-anxiety herb are just a few that have been successful in clinical trials. Magnesium citrate, 5-HTP and lavender oil may also aid sleep quality and duration.
Tips #7: Support Immune Function
There is a lot of evidence that acute and chronic infections as well as vaccinations, play a role in fibromyalgia. HIV, Lyme disease, Hepatitis C, Helicobacter pylori and other infections are all known to trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia, sometimes for short periods, and other times chronically. There are also connections between chronic fatigue syndrome or post-viral syndrome and fibromyalgia, both of which are thought to be caused by severe viral infections. While this may not be the case in 100% of fibromyalgia patients, it is an important step to cover, as an option of resolving the underlying infection which may helps to relieve fibromyalgia pain.
Support the immune system with nutrients such as zinc, selenium, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Herbal medicines with a proven capacity to boost white blood cells may help to resolve infections as well. Echinacea root, garlic, andrographis, astragalus, elderberry, pau d’arco, withania and ginseng are known to increase white blood cell production, including T lymphocytes, antibodies and natural kill cells. For viral infections, some botanicals have shown in studies to act against a wide spectrum of viruses. Olive leaf, echinacea root, elderberry, aloe vera, propolis and cat’s claw are examples of herbal medicines that are clinically proven to treat viral infections.