May 30, 2012
Fighting Fibromyalgia Naturally
Fibromyalgia causes symptoms that include aching muscles, tender skin, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and mental fogginess that leaves sufferers unable to function normally in everyday life. Fortunately, for those who don't want to resort to experimenting with medication to find a solution, there are a few natural remedies and lifestyle changes that may offer relief to fibromyalgia sufferers.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, about five million Americans aged 18 or older are affected by fibromyalgia. For many, symptoms come and go, making diagnosis difficult and finding an effective treatment option complicated. Because it isn't a disease with easy-to-identify symptoms and a single effective treatment method, coping with fibromyalgia can be challenging.
Self-Management of Fibromyalgia
The most important aspect of developing a plan to self-manage fibromyalgia is receiving an accurate diagnosis and starting treatment as early as possible. To diagnose this condition, a doctor must first rule out other diseases that could be behind the symptoms. After diagnosis, keeping a diary of symptoms and activities can help a fibromyalgia sufferer determine which things cause a flare up so that these activities can be avoided in the future. Keeping track of specific treatment attempts and their results can also help an individual narrow down which techniques or lifestyle changes work best.
Exercise as Treatment
While exercise may feel like the last thing someone with fibromyalgia wants to do, it can be one of the most helpful solutions for easing the pain and fatigue caused by this condition. Physical activity helps keep the body's natural rhythms in sync, preventing sleep problems that may leave someone with fibromyalgia more tired. Exercise also keeps the muscles conditioned, so normal everyday activities are less likely to cause pain. Someone with fibromyalgia should ease into an exercise program instead of jumping into intensive training. Low-impact exercises like water aerobics or walking are good choices for people with fibromyalgia. Yoga and tai chi are other popular options.
Opting for foods with a low inflammation potential can help a fibromyalgia sufferer control and prevent symptoms. Fish and vegetables tend to fall into this category, so they make a good base for a low-inflammation diet. Inflammatory foods like sugar, baked goods and refined grains should be avoided. Vegetarian diets and raw food diets that include seeds, nuts, fresh vegetables, vegetable juice, tubers, whole grains and barley juice may help some people with fibromyalgia. Some people with fibromyalgia also develop an irritable bowel, so sufferers who notice digestive problems when eating certain foods should avoid them because they might also be triggers for pain. Fibromyalgia sufferers should also avoid foods that are high in preservatives and artificial additives.
Physical fibromyalgia treatments may help ease muscle pain and tenderness. A professional massage can relax the muscles, easing pain and making it easier to participate in exercise that can further reduce symptoms. A massage therapist versed in myofascial release may be able to offer even more relief. Acupressure and acupuncture can target specific areas that are particularly painful or tender. Osteopathic manipulation and neuro-muscular adjustment performed by professionals trained in these techniques may also be useful for some people.
Herbal Remedies and Supplements
There is little information on the effectiveness of herbal remedies and dietary supplements to treat fibromyalgia. However, a few supplements have shown promise in the small studies conducted to date. Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and ease pain. Melatonin, valerian root, acetyl L-carnitine, ribose and mucuna pruriens are potential solutions for some fibromyalgia sufferers. A combination of magnesium, vitamin B complex and malic acid may also be useful for reducing muscle pain.
Because of the complex nature of fibromyalgia, not every solution works for every person with this condition. Many people have to experiment with many different remedies before finding a solution or a combination of solutions that effectively ease the pain. Working with a doctor or natural health practitioner can help a fibromyalgia sufferer develop an individual treatment plan focused on natural remedies for fibromyalgia, making it possible to lead a normal, pain-free life once again.
Melissa Crossman is a freelance writer who enjoys covering health, wellness, cancer and cancer prevention. She lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs.