Standard treatments for fibromyalgia include painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. These can help reduce symptoms like pain, fatigue, and insomnia.
For some people, though, these medications may not provide the perfect solution. A research report by the Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation stated that sometimes medication treatments are ineffective. They also may cause side effects that make them difficult to maintain.
The authors concluded that the best approach is to combine drug treatments with other types of non-drug or “complementary” therapies. Here’s a look at a few of the possibilities.
Several studies suggest that yoga may help ease symptoms of fibromyalgia. Researchers in the journal Pain linked yoga to lower levels of fibromyalgia-related pain among participants.
Another study published in the Journal of Pain Research found similar results. Women with fibromyalgia who took a 75-minute yoga class twice a week for eight weeks reported less pain at the end of the study. They also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood.
Can meditation change the way your brain processes pain signals? Australian rheumatologist Dr. Daniel Lewis thinks so. He suggests meditation may change the way your brain functions, helping improve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A research review published in Current Pain and Headache Reports also found evidence that meditation can relieve fibromyalgia-related pain. It may help calm your mind and ease your body, promoting deep rest and relaxation. In turn, this may help your body heal itself.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a natural amino acid. It helps your body produce serotonin. This chemical helps regulate your mood.
According to a review published in Rheumatology International, studies suggest 5-HTP may help improve fibromyalgia symptoms. It may help relieve pain, morning stiffness, fatigue, and anxiety. More research is needed, but scientists believe it works similarly to anti-depressants.
S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe) is a molecule that your body produces naturally. It’s also available as a dietary supplement.
SAMe may help relieve some symptoms of fibromyalgia, report researchers in Rheumatology. For example, it may help relieve pain, morning stiffness, and fatigue. Research participants have also reported some mild side effects, such as stomachache and dizziness.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine. Very thin needles are inserted into your skin at different points of your body. It’s used to treat a variety of conditions.
An article published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews suggests it may help treat fibromyalgia. The authors reviewed nine studies with a total of 395 participants. They found some evidence that acupuncture may help improve pain and stiffness.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice. It involves moving your body slowly and gently through a series of poses. It has shown some potential for easting fibromyalgia symptoms.
A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found promising results. Participants with fibromyalgia took part in a 60-minute tai chi class or a wellness education and stretching class. They attended these classes twice a week for 12 weeks. Those who did tai chi experienced improvements in their pain, sleep quality, depression, and quality of life. The benefits were still noticeable 24 weeks later.
Manual lymph drainage therapy (MLDT) is a type of massage. It helps move lymph fluid through your body. Your lymph system helps rid your body of waste and toxins.
In research reported in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies, scientists tested MLDT on a group of women with fibromyalgia. They did MLDT five times a week for three weeks. It appeared to be more effective than regular massage for reducing morning tiredness and anxiety. Both MLDT and regular massage were linked to reduced pain and improved quality of life.
Research on fibromyalgia is still in its early stages. Experts continue to make new discoveries and advancements. Some complementary therapies have shown promise for relieving symptoms of this disease.
If standard medications aren’t giving you the relief you need, talk to your doctor about complementary therapies. Massage therapy, yoga, meditation, or other options may help you feel better. Your doctor can help you understood the potential benefits and risks of adding them to your treatment plan.