Alternative Fibromyalgia Treatment Options That Can Relieve Pain, Increase Sleep And Make You Feel Better About Yourself

Written by SIMONE RAVICZ, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Complementary And Integrative Approaches To Treating Fibromyalgia

The majority of us are truly tired of visiting doctors, going over and over the same fibromyalgia symptoms, trying (with fluctuations from hope to cynicism) yet another medical approach , and receiving little or no benefit to our health or well-being. Because of the complex nature of both the etiology and symptomatology of fibromyalgia , there remains significant confusion among medical practitioners about how best to treat it.

As a reaction to the fact that most strictly pharmacological approaches prove insufficient, fibromyalgia sufferers have increasingly begun to search outside the Western medical community for relief. Indeed it is our responsibility along our healing path to seek out the best offered by both Western and Eastern interventions. Fortunately, Western medical professionals are increasingly accepting integration of complementary approaches and a mind-body conceptualization of fibromyalgia.

As discussed in the previous article on the importance of selecting a quality, caring, open doctor knowledgeable about fibromyalgia, it is also our job to locate complementary professionals who are experienced in FMS and who have proper certification and experience. Stay in touch with how you feel physically and emotionally when you are seeking integrative methods so you are empowered to make wise decisions. Always check with your medical professional(s) prior to commencing any alternative approaches.

Just what are some of these interventions? Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, aquatic and physical therapy are just some among the many methods available for you to combine with Western treatment to design your holistic self-healing journey. Mind-body interventions include Feldenkrais, Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates.

Massage, like the following techniques, must be pursued with the assistance of a trained professional who respects your own start level and pace of progress. Massage involves manipulating surface and deep muscle and connective tissue layers to increase relaxation, functioning and well-being. There are more than 80 types of massage. Massage is beneficial for pain, anxiety, stress relief and certain types stimulate the immune system. Different fibromyalgia patients often prefer different types of massage so do not hesitate to try various approaches.

Acupuncture is an ancient means of treating patients by the insertion and manipulation of needles into the skin at specific points though to lie along paths guiding the flow of qi or "life energy". A blockage of qi is thought to underlie disease and practitioners believe acupuncture treats pain, improves well-being, and prevents and treats disease. Treatment has been shown to reduce pain for some with fibromyalgia but not all.

Chiropractic interventions focus on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It is believed that misalignment of the spine causes disorders which can be treated by manual manipulation. The stretching component seems to add to its efficacy although overall results in treating fibromyalgia are mixed.

Aquatic treatment allows fibromyalgia patients to perform warm water aerobic exercises they would otherwise not be able to tolerate due to the gravity imposed joint compression and weight bearing impact. Flexibility, balance, endurance and strength can all be improved.

Physical therapy is a powerful modality typically considered a primary intervention. Restoring function, reducing pain, boosting flexibility and movement, and restoring independence are all goals. Manual therapy, posture and stretching training, specific strength and gentle aerobic movements are prescribed. Sleep hygiene and self-help home therapies to reduce flare-ups are also instructed. When physical therapy consists of an individually tailored program, it can prove very effective.

Mind-body interventions include forms such as Feldenkrais, Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates. They aid in the increase in strength, overall mental and physical well-being, balance, flexibility and decreased pain by uniting mind and body through visualization, meditation, breathing, repetition and the like.

Throughout the field of medicine, there is a greater openness to alternative and integrative methods of treatment. When it comes to FMS, where traditional Western medicine has proven to still require significant progress, this fact is a welcome change. Make sure to do your research, talk to fellow fibromyalgia sufferers, and consult with your healthcare professionals about these options.

These alternative fibromyalgia treatment options have worked for others and we are in hopes they provide relief for you.

Dr. Simone Ravicz

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