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Exploring a different path: complementary therapies for fibromyalgia

Complementary therapies are off the beaten medical path
Complementary therapies are off the beaten medical pathD. L. Manzella

Fibromyalgia is a medical mystery, although studies are coming closer to figuring out the causes and ways to manage it. Anyone who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia knows that it is a frustrating and sometimes hopeless quest for relief from pain. Opioid pain medications have been shown to be ineffective in treating fibromyalgia pain, so the accepted treatments at the moment are neuropathic medications such as Lyrica (pregabalin) and Neurontin (gabapentin), possibly combined with muscle relaxers, and something to help with sleep.

Fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, insomnia, concentration problems, and fatigue can be extremely debilitating, especially during an exacerbation. Many people who have fibromyalgia look to alternative and complementary therapies simply because the current medication protocol often isn't enough to manage the symptoms.

Although there aren't a lot of scientific studies out there that test holistic approaches to managing fibromyalgia, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there that makes pursuing some of these therapies worthwhile.

My personal sixteen year experience with fibromyalgia has led me to embrace many different modalities over the course of the years. It's not a perfect science, but for me it helps to move even when the pain is severe. Inactivity seems to inflame the pain even more. So, yoga, for me, is one way to give my aching muscles, joints and tendons some relief through gentle, thorough stretching. It doesn't happen overnight. One session on a yoga mat isn't going to do it. Consistency over time gives me better results.

Nutritional counseling also has been shown to help some sufferers, working on the theory that food sensitivities may lead to chronic inflammatory diseases like fibromyalgia. Elimination diets designed to heal the digestive system and decrease inflammation in the body do give relief of pain and fatigue for many people. It's better not to attempt this without the help of a certified nutritionist or a doctor knowledgeable in nutritional healing, but eliminating gluten and dairy products for a short period of time can help determine if this approach will help with symptoms. Even changing to a more clean diet with little or no processed foods, and more emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats and whole grains, makes a difference in symptoms for some people.

Meditation, acupuncture, talk therapy, massage, and reiki are some other modalities that can be explored to help manage symptoms. A mind, body and spirit approach seems to help on many levels.

Ongoing research into the mystery of fibromyalgia is important for successful management of it, and for now it's far from a perfect science. The important thing to remember is that we are each ultimately in control of our bodies and the more we get to know our bodies and our minds, the more empowered we become, and that seems to help most of all.

Holistic therapies to explore around the Buffalo area:

Area Yoga Studios and Classes

The Buffalo Wellness Center

Shen Dao Acupuncture-Elmwood
334 Bryant St Buffalo, NY 14222
(716) 883-3166

*Do not stop or change any medical treatments without first consulting your healthcare provider.