The goals of alternative treatments for fibromyalgia are to reduce muscle pain and stiffness, improve sleep, and teach patients to recognize and reduce stress. As is the case with many alternative treatments for any disease or condition, opinions are often mixed as to the efficacy of some treatment methods, and research is often minimal in comparison to traditional medicine treatments.
However, many people have had success in using alternative treatments in the management of many diseases and conditions, including fibromyalgia. Before trying any fibromyalgia alternative treatments, you should always check with your doctor to be sure that the methods are safe and right for you.
Acupuncture is a practice of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body in order to balance the flow of energy. Acupressure is similar, but applies pressure to the same points rather than using needles and can be self-administered. Both techniques have had mixed results in studies. They may be able to reduce pain and improve sleep for some people, but their level of effectiveness is not clear.
Chiropractic care uses various techniques to correct misalignment of the spine and other joints in order to relieve pain and other symptoms. Chiropractors may also incorporate stretching and massage techniques.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation practice that teaches you to concentrate on the present moment. It often incorporates relaxation techniques, deep breathing, and yoga-style stretching. Studies have shown mindfulness meditation can significantly reduce fibromyalgia pain.
Herbs and Supplements
Several over-the-counter herbs and natural supplements have shown promise for fibromyalgia patients:
Magnesium is a mineral found in many foods. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia patients tend to be deficient in magnesium and that taking a magnesium supplement can reduce pain.
Capsaicin is a chemical found in spicy peppers. It is available in a cream that is applied directly to painful areas of the body. Studies have found that capsaicin can reduce fibromyalgia pain and that it reduces levels of substance P, a chemical involved in the body’s pain response.
Melatonin is a hormone the body uses to regulate sleep cycles. It has been found to improve sleep in people with jetlag and insomnia, but evidence for its effectiveness in improving sleep in fibromyalgia patients is unclear.
Valerian is an herb that can improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and relax muscles. There have been no studies of valerian use for fibromyalgia, but it has shown promise for other diseases.