Fibromyalgia, also known as chronic widespread pain (CWP), is a condition in which one experiences widespread muscle and joint pains with fatigue. It is quite common in older people, especially in women. Fibromyalgia still isn’t very well understood, so there is no cure yet. However, alternative therapies have been found to help in relieving the symptoms and managing the condition. Here are 7 alternative methods for treating fibromyalgia.
Yoga, the ancient Indian practice of promoting mental and physical well-being, is great for relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. Due to excess pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia patients usually loathe taking up any physical activity. However, because yoga does not always involve highly intense movement, it works quite well for the condition. It helps by making the muscles more flexible through its stretching poses, reducing stiffness, fatigue, and pain. Yoga also helps in reducing a significant contributing factor – stress.1
Ayurveda, the traditional Indian treatment system involving herbs, can also help in the management of fibromyalgia. A range of full body herbal oil massages and herbal steam baths in combination with streaming oil on the forehead and meditation has been found to reduce muscle stiffness and improve circulation, relieving pain in fibromyalgia patients over time.2
Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that involves stimulating certain points on the body with fine needles, which results in the release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals).3 This therapy has been found to help with many severe conditions, including fibromyalgia. While the role of acupuncture in the long-term treatment of fibromyalgia needs more research, it has been proven to be beneficial for pain relief and an improved quality of life after the end of the treatment.4
Another alternative therapy that can be considered for treating fibromyalgia patients is homeopathy. It involves administering very small doses of natural substances. Research suggests that homeopathy can significantly reduce tenderness as well as improve the overall quality of life and health of fibromyalgia patients. 5
Conventional physiotherapy is often suggested for the treatment of fibromyalgia. However, a study that compared the effectiveness of hydrotherapy against conventional physiotherapy for fibromyalgia found that hydrotherapy was more effective.6 Hydrotherapy is the use of water in any of its forms (water, ice, steam) at various temperatures, pressures, and durations for pain relief. The warmth of the water is said to relax muscles and reduce pain in joints, while the various exercises done in water improve muscle strength.
6. Medical Marijuana
The use of medical marijuana (cannabis) for pain relief is one of the most debated topics in public health spheres. However, research suggests that it can alleviate the pain associated with fibromyalgia.7 Certain compounds called cannabinoids in marijuana bind to nerve receptors in the body and block nerve pain, providing relief.8
7. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy involves sharing and finding constructive ways to combat self-destructive behaviors, thoughts, and feelings with a therapist’s help. Using it to educate patients about fibromyalgia, mindful meditation, and movement therapy is likely to reduce pain, fatigue, and sleeplessness significantly. Not just that, it can also improve functioning, mood, and general health.9
Since fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with not many conventional treatment options, alternative therapies can actually work wonders. Exploring them with a doctor’s guidance can relieve and enhance the quality of life.
|↑1||Silva, Gerson D., and Lais V. Lage. “Yoga and fibromyalgia.” Revista Brasileira de Reumatologia 46, no. 1 (2006): 37-39.|
|↑2||Rasmussen, L. B., K. Mikkelsen, M. Haugen, A. H. Pripp, and Ø. T. Førre. “Treatment of fibromyalgia at the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre in Norway. A six-month follow-up study.” Clinical & Experimental Rheumatology 27, no. 5 (2009): S46.|
|↑3||Relieving pain with acupuncture. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑4||Targino, Rosa Alves, Marta Imamura, Helena HS Kaziyama, Luiz PM Souza, Wu Tu Hsing, Andréa D. Furlan, Satiko Tomikawa Imamura, and Raymundo Soares Azevedo Neto. “A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture added to usual treatment for fibromyalgia.” Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 40, no. 7 (2008): 582-588.|
|↑5||Bell, I. R., D. A. Lewis, A. J. Brooks, G. E. Schwartz, S. E. Lewis, B. T. Walsh, and C. M. Baldwin. “Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo.” Rheumatology 43, no. 5 (2004): 577-582.|
|↑6||de Melo Vitorino, Debora Fernandes, Luciane Bizari Coin de Carvalho, and Gilmar Fernandes do Prado. “Hydrotherapy and conventional physiotherapy improve total sleep time and quality of life of fibromyalgia patients: randomized clinical trial.” Sleep Medicine 7, no. 3 (2006): 293-296.|
|↑7||Fiz, Jimena, Marta Durán, Dolors Capellà, Jordi Carbonell, and Magí Farré. “Cannabis use in patients with fibromyalgia: effect on symptoms relief and health-related quality of life.” PLoS One 6, no. 4 (2011): e18440.|
|↑8||Joy, Janet, and Alison Mack. Marijuana as medicine?: the science beyond the controversy. National Academies Press, 2000.|
|↑9||Singh, B. B., B. M. Berman, V. A. Hadhazy, and P. Creamer. “A pilot study of cognitive behavioral therapy in fibromyalgia.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine 4, no. 2 (1998): 67-70.|