Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat. Not all doctors are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment, so it is important to find a doctor who is. Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues) can treat fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach, with your doctor, a physical therapist, possibly other health professionals, and most importantly, yourself, all playing an active role. It can be hard to assemble this team, and you may struggle to find the right professionals to treat you. When you do, however, the combined expertise of these various professionals can help you improve your quality of life.

You may find several members of the treatment team you need at a clinic. There are pain clinics that specialize in pain and rheumatology clinics that specialize in arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, including fibromyalgia.

Only three medications, duloxetine, milnacipran, and pregabalin are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Duloxetine was originally developed for and is still used to treat depression. Milnacipran is similar to a drug used to treat depression but is FDA approved only for fibromyalgia. Pregaballin is a medication developed to treat neuropathic pain (chronic pain caused by damage to the nervous system).

Doctors also treat fibromyalgia with a variety of other medications such as Gabapentin developed and approved for other purposes.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Many people with fibromyalgia also report varying degrees of success with complementary and alternative therapies, including massage, movement therapies (such as Pilates and the Feldenkrais method), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and various herbs and dietary supplements for different fibromyalgia symptoms. (For more information on complementary and alternative therapies, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Although some of these supplements are being studied for fibromyalgia, there is little, if any, scientific proof yet that they help. FDA does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, so information about side effects, proper dosage, and the amount of a preparation’s active ingredients may not be well known. If you are using or would like to try a complementary or alternative therapy, you should first speak with your doctor, who may know more about the therapy’s effectiveness, as well as whether it is safe to try in combination with your medications.

Besides taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, there are many things you can do to minimize the impact of fibromyalgia on your life.

These include:

  •  Getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. Even so, many people with fibromyalgia have problems such as pain, restless legs syndrome, or brainwave irregularities that interfere with restful sleep. It is important to discuss any sleep problems with your doctor, who can prescribe or recommend treatment for them.
  • Exercising. Although pain and fatigue may make exercise and daily activities difficult, it is crucial to be as physically active as possible. Research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. People who have too much pain or fatigue to do vigorous exercise should begin with walking or other gentle exercise and build their endurance and intensity slowly.
  • Making changes at work. Most people with fibromyalgia continue to work, but they may have to make big changes to do so. For example, some people cut down the number of hours they work, switch to a less demanding job, or adapt a current job. If you face obstacles at work, such as an uncomfortable desk chair that leaves your back aching or difficulty lifting heavy boxes or files, your employer may make adaptations that will enable you to keep your job. An occupational therapist can help you design a more comfortable workstation or find more efficient and less painful ways to lift.
  •  Eating well. Although some people with fibromyalgia report feeling better when they eat or avoid certain foods, no specific diet has been proven to influence fibromyalgia. Of course, it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will proper nutrition give you more energy and make you generally feel better, it will also help you avoid other health problems.
  • Take Nu Skin Products especially Nu skin lifepak nano for balanced nutrition.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts a long time, possibly a lifetime. However, it may be comforting to know that fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease. It is never fatal, and it will not cause damage to the joints, muscles, or internal organs. In many people, the condition does improve over time.

 

Foods Said to Cause Fibromyaligia Flares

A sudden attack of intense pain and stiffness in the muscles is known as Fibromyalgia Flares. There are certain foods that you need to avoid because these 6 foods are said to cause Fibromyalgia Flares.

  • Nightshade Vegetables  A class of vegetables known as nightshades are known to cause aching and pain in the joints and muscles as well as weakness and fatigue for people who are sensitive, Ygoy.com reports. The nightshades contain a compound called solanine that is responsible for this reaction. Anecdotal evidence points to these items being the culprits: peppers, tomatoes, paprika, eggplant, white potatoes and tobacco. The reaction can happen quickly or within days. Some people become completely crippled during a reaction to nightshades. Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products, even when they are not ingested, may produce symptoms.
  • Gluten-containing Grains Gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats have been shown to produce a myriad of symptoms in those who are sensitive, The Savvy Celiac website explains. For people who have gluten allergies and are gluten intolerant, the entire body can react immediately or within several hours or days. Some of the symptoms experienced may be severe inflammation, swelling, headaches, respiratory problems, weakness, fatigue, and extreme body pain. There is also an issue of cross-contamination for those who are sensitive, and close attention must be paid to reading labels and eating foods that have not been in contact with other foods containing gluten. By eliminating all gluten-containing foods, starting with processed white flour, you will likely see a difference in your pain level and other symptoms.
  • Artificial Sweeteners and Food Additives Certain food additives and artificial sweeteners may create serious side effects, worsening fibromyalgia in those who are sensitive. All artificial sweeteners should be eliminated as well as foods containing them, such as sodas and other diet foods.  Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the most common food additive, Laura A. Coleman and R. Roubenoff explain in their book, “Nutrition and Rheumatic Disease (Nutrition and Health).” Used as a preservative and flavor enhancer, MSG is found in one form or another in just about every packaged or canned food on the market unless labeled otherwise. An wide range of symptoms have been reported that mimic or aggravate fibromyalgia such as dizziness, headaches, stomach upsets, nausea, body aches and joint pain especially in arms and hands, difficulty thinking, mood changes and more. Unless the label on the package says “MSG free,” assume what you are buying includes MSG. Most Asian restaurants also include MSG in their preparations, so ask for it to be eliminated or don’t eat at that restaurant.
  • Foods Containing MSG Keep a list of these common foods available so you recognize which are the culprits. Anything with soy sauce, soy protein, bouillon, broths and soup stock, foods labeled with “natural flavoring,” textured protein, TVP, barley malt or whey protein are on the “avoid” list.
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Pseudonyms MSG is a chemical and known by many names. Here is a list of most of those names to keep with you so you recognize them when you shop. They include sodium caseinate, yeast nutrient, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, yeast food, hydrolyzed corn gluten, natrium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, carrageenan, maltodextrin,  citric acid, soy protein isolate, malt extract, whey protein protease, malt flavoring. Foods labeled “enzyme modified” has MSG. Food labeled as protein fortified, whey protein isolate and protease enzymes, should be avoided. Beware of flavorings and fermented foods, enzymes, natural flavor and seasonings.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine intake can trigger headaches and also interfere with sleep patterns. It stays in your system for several hours which can further result to fatigue. It can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Refined Sugar: Sugar can increase blood sugar swings associated with adrenal fatigue. Too much sugar can also leaving fibro patients in even more pain and drops in blood sugar can cause flaring of muscle tightening and anxiety.
  • Aspartame (Also Known as NutraSweet): This could increase or stimulate pain receptor of the nervous system that can lead to pain. This can also turn to chronic pain from acute pain.
  • Saturated Fats: It inhibits circulation and increase the sensitivity of nerve endings to pain.
  • Red Meat: Red meats are high in saturated fats. It interferes with proper circulation of blood and thus leads to fatigue and pain.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol promotes inflammation, which increases pain because the toxins produced from alcohol don’t process well by Fibromyalgia patients.

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What Causes Fibromyalgia and what may be the reasons of Fibromyalgia

The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.

Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain.

Some scientists speculate that a person’s genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. There have already been several genes identified that occur more commonly in fibromyalgia patients, and NIAMS-supported researchers are currently looking at other possibilities.

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Fibromyalgia can run in families. It’s likely that there is an unidentified genetic abnormality that makes certain people more at risk for fibromyalgia. The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) states that certain genes may regulate the way that the body regulates pain responses. Scientists speculate that people with fibromyalgia may carry one or more genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that another person may not perceive as painful.

Fibromyalgia Triggers

For many patients, symptoms begin after emotional or physical trauma or a bout with an infectious disease. These do not likely cause fibromyalgia by themselves, but may trigger the onset in people who are already at risk for it.

Sleep Disturbances

Problems with getting enough sleep, or spending enough time in the deepest stages of sleep, are common in this disorder. However, doctors are not sure if this is a symptom or a cause of the disorder. Improper sleep patterns can affect the levels of some of the brain chemicals listed above.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that indicate an increased risk of fibromyalgia. However, their presence doesn’t mean one will certainly be diagnosed with the syndrome.

Gender

According to the NIAMS, Women are eight to nine times more likely than men to have fibromyalgia.  Scientists believe female reproductive hormones may play a role in the pain disorder.

Age

According to the NIAMS, the most common age to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia is early to middle adulthood, between 20 and 50 years old.

Family History

If you have a close family member with fibromyalgia, you are more likely to be diagnosed yourself.

Sleep Disorders

It is not known if sleep problems are a symptom or a cause of fibromyalgia. However, people who have disorders affecting sleep such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are more likely to have the pain disorder.

Other Rheumatic Diseases

Rheumatic diseases affect the joints, muscles, and bones. People who have another rheumatic disease are more likely to have fibromyalgia as well. These diseases include:

 

Who Gets Fibromyalgia? How Can You Tell if You Have Fibromyalgia?

overview tenderpoint diagram for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an often-misunderstood form of rheumatoid disease. It’s usually classified alongside other forms of rheumatic disorders, such as arthritis, but the exact cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown.

Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans age 18 or older. For unknown reasons, between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women While anyone can get fibromyalgia, hormones are thought to be a possible explanation for this gender bias; however, men and children also can be affected. Most people are diagnosed during middle age, although the symptoms often become present earlier in life.

How Can You Tell if You Have Fibromyalgia?
Your doctor will ask about your pain symptoms and then press on a series of anatomically-defined soft tissue body sites called “tender points.” There are 18 tender points on the body that will usually be highly sensitive to pressure in people with fibromyalgia as specified by the American College of Rheumatology criteria. People who do not have fibromyalgia are much less tender to pressure applied at these tender points.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimates that about five million adults in the United States have fibromyalgia. It can technically develop in anyone at any age, but fibromyalgia most typically develops in middle-aged adults. The disorder primarily occurs in women, so being female is a risk factor.

Other risk factors also increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia. These risk factors include:

  • a personal or family history of fibromyalgia or other rheumatoid disease
  • recurring injuries in the same part of the body
  • anxiety or long-term stress
  • neurological disorders
  • going through a major physical event, such as a car accident
  • history of serious infections

Having a history of any of the above factors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop fibromyalgia. You should still be aware of these risks and discuss them with your doctor if you’re concerned.

 


1Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, Arnold LM, Choi H, Deyo RA, Gabriel S, Hirsch R, Hochberg MC, Hunder GG, Jordan JM, Katz JN, Kremers HM, Wolfe F; National Arthritis Data Workgroup. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part II. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Jan;58(1):26-35.

People with certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus), or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) may be more likely to have fibromyalgia, too.

Several studies indicate that women who have a family member with fibromyalgia are more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves, but the exact reason for this—whether it is heredity, shared environmental factors, or both—is unknown. Researchers are trying to determine whether variations in certain genes cause some people to be more sensitive to stimuli, which lead to pain syndromes.

 

Neurontin can be used to prevent Migraine, treat Nerve Pain and control the pain of fibromyalgia.

Neurontin is the trade name for the generic drug gabapentin. It is useful as an anti-epileptic drug and as an analgesic, particularly for pain of the neuropathic or neurogenic type. (pain from irritation or inflammation of nerves). When used for controlling epilepsy, it is usually used in conjunction with another anti-epileptic drug. It is used much more extensively in the medical field to treat pain than it is to treat epilepsy.

You can also buy Neurontin to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcohol withdrawal, chronic neuropathic pain, cocaine addiction, diabetic peripheral neuropathy,generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), fibromyalgia, menopause, migraine prevention, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobia, trigeminal neuralgia.

The chemical structure of gabapentin is related that of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. The exact mechanism as to how gabapentin controls epilepsy and relieves pain is unknown, but it probably acts like the neurotransmitter GABA.

Animal studies show that gabapentin prevents the development of allodynia (a normally non painful stimulus which is perceived as painful) and hyperalgesia (an exaggerated response to a painful stimulus).

Gabapentin 800 mg Tab-IVAInternational and domestic studies that have evaluated Neurontin for migraine prevention suggest that it is effective. In a study of 63 patients with migraine (with or without aura), gabapentin significantly reduced migraine frequency and intensity among 30 patients who received it. In this study, adverse events were mild to moderate in severity.

Similarly, in a large study, 143 people with migraine received daily doses of Neurontin or placebo for 12 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, the migraine rate had declined from 4.2 migraines before treatment to 2.7 migraines after treatment in those who received this drug. This decrease was significantly greater than the decrease from 4.1 migraines to 3.5 migraines among those who received placebo. Of the 56 gabapentin recipients, 46% had at least a 50% reduction in the four-week migraine rate. Drug-related adverse events (sleepiness and dizziness) led to drug withdrawal in 13% of patients in the gabapentin group compared with 7% in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that this medication is an effective and well-tolerated preventive for migraine.

Gabapentin can be very helpful in controlling the pain of trigeminal neuralgia (tic doloreaux), post herpetic neuralgia (the lingering pain after a bout of shingles), the pain of diabetic neuropathy and other neuritic pains such as pain from nerve irritation due spinal arthritis or disc disease and occipital neuralgia. Occasionally it seems to be helpful in controlling migraine and other headaches. It has also been reported to be helpful in controlling the pain of fibromyalgia.

Gabapentin is generally well tolerated. The main side effects are dizziness and drowsiness. Occasionally there maybe some fluid retention, unsteadiness or G.I upset, mainly diarrhea.

The effective dose of gabapentin varies greatly. Some persons need only 200-300 mg a day whereas others may need 3000 mg or more a day. It may take several weeks to become effective, so it is important to stay on it for an adequate length of time.

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