Previously I have gone over what fibromyalgia is and some potential warning signs and preventative behaviors. This information will focus on ways to treat fibromyalgia. Therapies that have been successful in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia include manual therapies (chiropractic, massage, osteopathy, physical therapy), cognitive therapy, acupuncture, exercise (aerobic, tai-chi, yoga), medications, supplementations, diet, etc. For the main purpose of this article we will focus on the more convservative/natural methods.
There is no single “best” treatment, so trying a balanced approach of therapies seems to be the best method of finding out which treatments don’t work. There is more evidence out right now pointing to physical exertion as an effective way to help alleviate some pain and fatigue. The exact reason this works, isn’t currently known, but many studies show that walking, light aerobic exercise, swimming, tai-chi, yoga, pilates, resistance training, etc has a significant effect for the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Acupuncture has also gotten more research to help show its benefits to the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Studies show that acupuncture helps alleviate pain, fatigue, and “fibro fog.” In this area acupressure can also get some credit as it is similar and gets similar results. Acupuncture is getting more and more attention for its health applications in modern medicine.
Massage/soft tissue therapy has also been shown to help with regulating the symptoms of fibromyalgia in is the sense of lowering pain levels, increased sleep, decreasing fatigue, and helping break the “fibro fog.”
Supplementation is getting more research done on its benefit for pain syndromes and depression. Recently SAM-e, an amino acid, has gotten more attention for helping with depression which is often associated with fibro sufferers. Other supplementations include magnesium, 5-HTP (precursor to seretonin), and melatonin have gotten some attention, but the research is lacking, but again it may work for certain patients so these are worth a try if other solutions are lacking. Omega-3’s and acetyl L-carnitine have both been shown to assist in symptom control as well.
Since there is a direct link between depression and fibromyalgia, cognitive therapy with a licensed pyschologist is another method of treatment, that has been shown to give great relief for the symptoms of fibro. This gets back the “chicken or the egg” discussion of the cause of fibromyalgia, but staying on track this type of treatment is very beneficial too many who suffer.
Chiropratic/osteopathic manipulation is another therapy that has garnered attention through research and patient response. The effect behind the manipulation is still up for debate, but the results are there and many people will benefit from this type of care. Generally relief of pain, decreased number of tender points, increased levels of energy and quality of life, increased sleep, lower feelings of anxiety and depression are benefits seen from those who find successful treatment with manipulation.
Generally the best approach is to test the waters and find what works best for the individual. Some will benefit from the use of medication, but there is still a high percentage that do not find satisfactory results from pills. As a practicing chiropractor the best advice for those who are looking for an alternative or more natural approach to treatment would be to include a balanced approach. Include a combination to increase results : chiropractic manipulation, exercise, supplementation, massage, and/or acupuncture. If depression is a part of the equation seeking a mental health care professional is another important avenue to seek.
Hopefully in the future the causes of fibromyalgia will be better understood so an optimal approach can be established for treatment. Until then searching out the best treatments is combining a balanced approach is the best approach.
Circle City Chiropractic
Indianapolis, IN 46250