Fibromyalgia

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    Sana Health’s Largest Non-Drug Clinical Trial To Manage Fibro Symptoms

    For nearly 10 million Americans, the pain and discomfort from Fibromyalgia symptoms can significantly impact quality of life. Now, Colorado-based Sana Health, Inc hopes to offer relief to those living with Fibromyalgia symptoms through their audiovisual Sana Device. The company will soon launch a 1,000-person study for use of the Device in Fibromyalgia, the largest non-drug study ever conducted. This user study is being completed in tandem with several clinical trials. Fibromyalgia causes pain and a range of symptoms throughout the body. Current treatments include a combination of medications, physical and occupational therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle management. This is often ineffective, and new research and treatment is needed. Briony, from The Mighty’s Fibromyalgia community, shared her experience with treatment, “I have tried everything under the sun to have even the tiniest bit of relief from the pain, but nothing works, so I suffer every second of every day in excruciating pain and there’s nothing I can do about this.” The Mighty is assisting Sana Health in recruitment for their user study for individuals in the U.S. diagnosed with Fibromyalgia who are seeking new options for symptom management. See if you’re eligible to try their device here. explore the sana device now The device is a comfortable eye mask and earbud combination which gently uses audiovisual stimulation (AVS) to guide the wearer into a state of relaxation. Clinical data from Sana device treatments show that targeted AVS impact the central nervous system. In a 16-minute session, the Sana device provides a patented series of light and sound pulses, alternating eye-to-eye and ear-to-ear. These sessions can be done at home through an app paired to the device. As the algorithm moves through three phases the user relaxes into a deeper meditative state. At the conclusion, individuals feel very relaxed and some fall asleep. Richard Hanbury, founder and CEO of Sana developed the Sana device after a Jeep accident in 1992 in Yemen left him with a spinal cord injury and chronic pain. After 14 months in the hospital, he was given a life expectancy of just five years. To address his own pain, he began to experiment with biometric sensors and neuromodulation patterns, hoping to recalibrate how his brain processed pain signals. The earliest prototype of the Sana device helped relieve his symptoms, and he went on to test it with the British and U.S. military services, Richard Branson’s Virgin Challenger flights, and the first Solar Impulse Flights. In 2016 he founded Sana Health to bring the technology to others who need it. “The therapeutic program provided in the 16-minute Sana session was refined over more than 25 years of trial and error by founder and inventor Richard Hanbury, in collaboration with neuroscientist Jeffrey Bower, PhD, who used EEG readings to validate the findings,” Sana Health told The Mighty. Users of the Sana device are finding relief for a range of symptoms, including pain, mood, and sleep disturbances. The device is breakthrough technology for anyone seeking non-drug treatment for symptoms related to Fibromyalgia. In fact, Sana has been awarded the status of Breakthrough Device Designation for the Sana device, for use in Fibromyalgia, from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This indicates that early testing shows that the device provides clinically meaningful improvement in symptom management for Fibromyalgia. With this status, Sana will receive priority when they submit Fibromyalgia studies for FDA approval. Users of the device speak well of its results. Jessica is a 44-year-old mother with Fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, and cancer. Her conditions left her fatigued and stressed, sleeping up to 16 hours a day at times. Regular use of the Sana device has helped her get better rest and left her with more energy. “With Sana, I am able to participate in life,” she said. “Something is centering me and something is grounding me. I can be in the moment.” The Mighty is excited to be able to assist Sana Health in recruiting patients into this landmark user study, and in the promise of this technology to help those managing Fibromyalgia. If you’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and would like to learn more about how to participate in the study with Sana, see if you qualify here .

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    Steph Cullen

    To My Friends and Family Who Don’t Have Fibromyalgia

    Hey, Thanks for being you, for listening, watching, reading and learning about my condition whilst riding this wave with me. I know it’s been years now. I know it gets old, boring even, to hear me talk about it All. The. Time. Part of me is sorry, though I’m not sure I’ll ever stop, because the thing is, I’ll always have this condition. A few people have dropped off along the way, stopped asking, stopped listening, stopped sympathizing, I’m learning to be OK with that. I have to be. Yes, it hurts my feelings, even when I don’t tell you it does, and again when I do. It hurts my feelings when you ignore the honesty of my illness-related posts, and only engage in the cute pictures of my kid. It hurts when you ask me how I am and I’m honest about how I’ve been feeling and you don’t reply. But, I do think about how hard it is to be around me sometimes, how difficult it can be to know what to say. With that in mind, I’m grateful if you’re still here, even when it might seem like I’m not grateful for anything. You see, this illness makes me irritable. I get angry with my body, often. On some days, better days I might seem totally “normal.” I might even resemble “the old me,” but please know that I am never not thinking about how this illness impacts my life. I am never not considering how activities like having fun with you today might affect me tomorrow or for days, sometimes weeks after the event. I still want to do all of the fun things you suggest and sometimes I’m able to, but there will be days when I need to cancel last minute. There will be times when we are out together that you might roll your eyes because I can’t walk back up the hill we just descended, or I can’t come and dance with you when our song comes on. I’m rolling my eyes at me too. I’m annoyed at my body too. What I can promise you I’m not doing is faking it. There is never a time that I want sympathy more than I want to have fun. Believe me when I tell you that, because it’s important you understand, this illness is real. It’s also interchangeable, it’s sporadic. It could be down to the last minute that I am living it up and having the best time then crashing in bed for days afterward. This is partly why I’ve pulled back from making plans. Pulled back from committing to things. This is why I’ve not reached out to ask if you want to do anything for ages, because I fear that if I do, and then I become suddenly unable, you will think I’m flakey. You might start to resent me, and drop off the radar with the rest of the people that couldn’t fix me. I am not broken, I’m just bent, learning to live again (almost a quote from a P!nk song there). Please know that I still want to be included in your plans and I still want to include you in mine. I just can’t assure you that I’ll always be able to fulfill them. Just know, when I make them, it’s always with the best intentions. I’m trying new ways to manage this condition all the time. I’m always trying, to be better, to do better, to make better choices that will benefit me and ultimately our relationship in the long run, even when you might not think I am. I wish I could go back in time and do more things with you before I got sick, but sadly time traveling isn’t a side effect of chronic illness. Though it’s hard for you to see me like this, though I’m hard to be around sometimes, I am a better, more compassionate and caring friend because of my illness. Of that, I am certain. If in the past I’ve rolled my eyes at your struggles, I’m truly sorry. If I seem lacking or caught up in my own life, I’m sorry for that too, because I do care. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have all the solutions – but I still care. More compassionately and with more integrity than I’ve ever cared before. If you’re still here – thank you and if you’re not, I understand. Letting go is something I’ve had to get used to, and it’s something I’m trying to do without resentment. We all have to look after ourselves and sometimes that includes making changes and protecting ourselves from negativity, including negative people, and whilst I do feel like I am a good and loyal friend, I’m fully aware I’m not always a positive one.

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    Notes on Being #Fine

    <p>Notes on Being <a class="tm-topic-link ugc-topic" title="Fine" href="/topic/fine/" data-id="5c1a5f4118e78d00f5a1259e" data-name="Fine" aria-label="hashtag Fine">#Fine</a> </p>
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    5 Tips for Better Sleep With Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and sleep often becomes a challenge. I have been officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia for about two years, but I have struggled with insomnia for most of my life. One of the main causes of sleep troubles in individuals with fibromyalgia is because as the brain begins to rest, it starts focusing on bodily pain. By focusing on the pain caused by fibromyalgia, we can become agitated, and, in turn, our sleep suffers. It has taken me a long time to create a nighttime routine that is beneficial for my sleep, and it takes patience and perseverance. The following tips are the five most helpful things that I have found beneficial for my sleep as someone with fibromyalgia, and I hope they will bring you some relief! 1) Consider the help of medication to sleep better with fibromyalgia. I know that medication is often a controversial topic, but working with a psychiatrist familiar with fibromyalgia (as well as my various mental illnesses) I have found that medication is a lifesaver for me. There are many medications available to help assist your sleep, and some of them even help fibromyalgia pain; however, there are also natural herbal options available if you would rather go that route. Working with a professional who specializes in either traditional or herbal medications or supplements will help you to determine which option is ideal for you. The links below also discuss the diverse options that are best for individuals with fibromyalgia, so if you can, take the time to do some research and consider what the best option is for you. Herbal teas such as sleepy time tea can also be a soothing part of your nighttime ritual. Traditional Medication Herbal Supplements 2) To fall asleep with less pain from fibromyalgia, try taking a shower or bath before going to bed. Apart from sleep and fibromyalgia pain management through medication, I have found that taking a shower before I go to bed is incredibly helpful. The warm water soothes my pain and putting on lotion afterward makes me feel soothed and calm. Pampering your body in this way may help to ease your pain and prepare your body for rest. Following my shower, I also drink some hot tea to help soothe my body on the inside. This routine helps me to feel soothed from the inside out. 3) Listen to soft music and/or read before bedtime. After I take my shower and pamper my body with lotion, I turn on smooth jazz and read for an hour or so before bed. I put my phone away and don’t look at it until the next morning. Taking this step away from technology while comforting my mind with a book and absorbing the healing power of soft music helps to slow down my mind. It also allows me to become more in tune with my body. I have found that when I am experiencing fibromyalgia pain, taking this time to calm my body assists me in finding comfort as I prepare for bed. 4) Try some light stretching or yoga to reduce fibromyalgia pain and improve sleep. Soft movement has been found to be beneficial for those living with fibromyalgia, and I find that when I am experiencing a lot of pain, yoga and careful stretches bring me some relief. However, movement is different for everybody, and if this form of movement makes you feel more pain, then please do listen to your body and discontinue whatever may be hurting you. The most important thing to remember when trying simple movements is that your bodily experience is your own, and you must listen to the signals your body is giving you. It can take some time to discover which movements bring you comfort – if any – so please be kind to yourself. 5) Sleep in a darkened room and/or wear a sleep mask. Calming the senses is a crucial step when preparing for sleep. If we become too overwhelmed by our senses, our brain will not be able to rest, and insomnia can become problematic. I personally enjoy leaving string lights on in my room because it helps me with my schizoaffective disorder, but I do wear a sleep mask to help comfort my eyes. After I have my mask on, I try to focus on my breathing by counting an inhale for four counts followed by an exhale for four counts and continuing this method until I fall asleep. Focusing on my breathing and counting also helps me to take my focus away from my pain. Sleep is such an essential aspect of managing fibromyalgia, and while it is frustrating to work through insomnia and determine what bedtime routine is best, relief is possible. Not all of the above tips may work for you, but the only way you can know what works and what doesn’t is through trial and error. Perseverance is key, and I have the strongest faith in you. You deserve rest and recovery, and I am sending love and healing your way.

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    Ashley Nestler
    My mission is to help you embrace your true identity and improve your relationships with others.

    Dating With Fibromyalgia: Finding Someone Who Understands

    In my experience, being single and sick in your 20s sucks. Dating while you’re chronically ill sucks even worse. Although I’m closer to 30, life circumstances such as chronic illness, trauma, and growing up isolated translated into me dating later rather than sooner. I often joke and say I’m living my teens more than a decade too late. I laugh about it, but sometimes, honestly, I cry about it too. After having what I consider a pretty successful and good go at a long-term relationship, I’m trying to heal and move on. There’s grieving there to be done, but I’m also trying to keep my forward momentum in the growth department and embrace this thing called living. Trying to live a “normal” life isn’t easy with chronic pain and chronic PTSD. My brain and body feel far from normal. I’m feeling both the physical pain, the emotional pain, and now I’m on my own to face it again. Although easy to do, I never took for granted having a partner on my chronic illness journey. I was always aware that the support helped and that my sickness wouldn’t simply disappear because I was in love. I still had my bad days and I had to learn to be vulnerable in front of a person to whom I only ever wanted to appear attractive. But, growth looked like acceptance and not being embarrassed that I’m chronically ill. Now, I’m back to square one. I’m single and I’m not entirely ready to mingle, because I have to communicate all over again that I have these things called fibromyalgia and trauma-induced post-traumatic stress disorder. I don’t want to do this part all over again. I’ve already felt the sting of hearing that “everyone needs love” in response to a potential “almost date” hearing about my chronic illness. Needles to say, I didn’t put the effort into showing up for that date; I declined it altogether and never looked back. Then come all the questions like, when do I tell this (hopefully) great guy I’m chronically ill? How much do I tell? Do I let him know I’m not going to get better, but there may be better days? That I’m far beyond my chronic pain and I bring wonderful things to the table even on the days I won’t leave bed or have to cancel our plans? I think everyone puts their best face forward while dating. It’s only natural that we want to make a good first impression, right? But describing your likes and interests and then adding little “hints” here and there that you can’t always enjoy them is tiring. For example, I love the outdoors. Nature brings me peace and joy when I’m surrounded by it. But, when asked out on a date that includes hiking and not knowing if you’re going to be able to walk when that day comes is, well, frustrating to say the least. It also causes me to feel self-conscious and vulnerable. I’d rather go with a family member who’s acquainted with my conditions and who will understand if I need to pull out my cane to make it back to the car after ending our outing. Maybe I should stick with simple coffee dates…. Except I hate coffee, hmm. I also like to go out and conquer life. In spite of the pain and regardless of whether I have tough days mentally, I want to live life in the moment and as fully as possible. I want to experience things like awkward first dates and embarrassing kisses and nervous laughter while falling in love. I want passionate love-making and the mundane little things like watching movies while in bed. I want a partner to share in my good days and bad. Someone who helps me grow and challenges me in all the right ways. I love discovering who I am and what I want out of life and having that cheerleader cheering me on. I want to be held. I want to be given space during PTSD attacks. I want understanding when I’m stuck in bad memories. I want romance, companionship, a lover, a best friend, and a partner that reminds me of the best things in life. Since I’ve experienced this, oh, how I want it even more. It’s just the process that’s difficult. The vulnerability and learning to trust again. The accepting someone may walk away or you might find you’re better on your own. Better off without that person walking this journey with you. It’s understanding relationships aren’t always forever, but it’s perfectly OK to try for forever. Enjoying the present is so important, even more so if you have a history of trauma and constant daily health challenges. I want to try for love. For happiness. For living my best life even with my health problems. Maybe that offensive “almost date” wasn’t completely wrong. Everyone deserves love. I have chronic pain and an incurable illness. And I am everyone.

    Fibro is tough, but you are tougher. 💪

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    Fibromyalgia Guide: Fibromyalgia Treatment

    Learn More About Fibromyalgia: Overview | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Resources | Related Conditions Medically reviewed by Emma Guymer, MBBS, FRACP Specialists Who May Be Able to Help | Medication Treatments | Less Effective Treatments | Standard Treatment Options | Functional Medicine Approaches | Treating Other Fibromyalgia Complications Understanding Fibromyalgia: Treatment Options Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes chronic pain you might feel all over your body; fatigue; and trouble with cognitive functions like thinking clearly and long-term memory. It’s believed to be caused when your nervous system gets stuck in “alarm” mode. Because there’s no cure, treating fibromyalgia is better envisioned as a journey instead of a one-size-fits-all treatment plan. You can try many therapies, including medications, graded exercise, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and functional medicine approaches. There isn’t one single treatment that helps the majority of all people with fibro — treatment will be individualized to what works for you. 12 Keep in mind while there are a lot of treatment options available, they might not work for you. In addition, sometimes treatment won’t completely stop your symptoms, but could help you feel at least a little better. Finding the right treatment approach might be a long journey while you and your doctors find a plan that reduces your symptoms and addresses comorbid conditions. 13 Specialists Who May Be Able to Help Many doctors, including your primary care physician, may be equipped to find a fibromyalgia treatment plan that works. Sometimes, you might want to call a specialist. Specialist fibro doctors are more familiar with the full range of treatment options and resources for fibromyalgia. Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find even one of these specialists. Rheumatologists Fibromyalgia is officially classified under the rheumatology banner. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) writes the official criteria used to diagnose fibromyalgia, for example. Rheumatologists also have specialized training in musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and lupus. 2 Pain Management Clinics Not a particular type of doctor per se, but pain management clinics specialize in the challenges of living with a chronic pain condition. There are two types of pain clinics. The first offers comprehensive services that cover everything from medications to physical and occupational therapy, nutrition and psychological strategies to manage your pain. Other pain clinics offer treatments designed to shrink your pain level using injections and nerve blocks. 23 Integrative/Functional Medicine Doctors Integrative or functional medicine doctors often take a whole-body perspective to health. Overseen by the Institute for Functional Medicine, functional medicine doctors combine traditional treatments from the Western world, like medication, with research-backed alternative practices like acupuncture or myofascial release therapy and lifestyle changes. 14 Other Health Care Professionals Who Can Help Other medical professionals could offer additional treatment perspectives. Physical therapists can develop an appropriate graded exercise program to keep your muscles moving but reduce the pain of exercise. Medication Treatments Medications are one avenue of treatment for fibromyalgia that should be used as part of a larger treatment plan that also includes psychological and physical strategies. There are three medications officially approved as fibromyalgia treatment options: duloxetine (brand name Cymbalta), pregabalin (brand name Lyrica) and milnacipran (brand name Savella). Your doctor may also try other drugs off-label, meaning they will prescribe a drug that’s FDA-approved to treat conditions with symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. Most fibro-approved prescription medications are only helpful to 30 to 50 percent of patients who use them. 12 When designing a medication treatment plan with your doctor, you will likely explore several different methods. If you have a doctor who tells you there’s nothing else you can do after trying only one or two meds, look for another doctors or specialist. 14 You may need to try six or more medications to find one that works. Often doctors who don’t specialize in fibromyalgia are unaware of other options to try off-label. 13 As with any medication, your doctor should explain what the drug does, how to take it and what it’s for. They should let you know how long until you might feel a difference, as well as what side effects you might experience. You may not need medication for life, but pain-reducing drugs can calm the overactive parts of your nervous system related to fibromyalgia pain. 13 Bring up any questions or concerns about your medication with your doctor. Duloxetine Duloxetine (brand name Cymbalta) is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that’s commonly used to treat depression and anxiety. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved duloxetine for fibromyalgia pain because of its effectiveness and safety. 24 Common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia and nausea. Like all antidepressants, duloxetine includes a black box warning because it may increase suicidal ideation. Other serious possible side effects include liver damage, abnormal bleeding and severe skin reactions. 7 Pregabalin Pregabalin (brand name Lyrica) was the first drug approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia and other nerve pain-related conditions. It’s believed to help calm down your nervous system and reduce your pain and help you sleep better. 3 The most common side effects are dizziness and sleepiness, though you may also experience, blurry vision, weight gain,  trouble concentrating, swelling in your hands and feet, dry mouth and feeling “high” or euphoric. Pregabalin can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and may cause serious allergic reactions like any drug. 15 However, overall pregabalin is considered a safe medication. 3 Milnacipran Milnacipran (brand name Savella) was the third FDA-approved drug for fibromyalgia. It’s formulated as an SNRI, so it works like an antidepressant and increases neurotransmitters like norepinephrine. Research has shown it can help reduce fibromyalgia pain, fatigue and cognitive issues. Because it works like an antidepressant, it can also be helpful if you have symptoms of depression as well. 19 The most common side effects are nausea, headaches, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, hot flush, excessive sweating, vomiting, palpitations and increased heart rate, dry mouth and increased blood pressure. It may also increase your risk of suicidal thinking and other serious complications, though these are rare. 1 Gabapentin Gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) was approved by the FDA in 1993 as a seizure medication. Its use was later expanded for postherpetic neuralgia, the nerve pain caused by shingles. Beyond these two uses, gabapentin is commonly prescribed off-label for fibromyalgia. The drug works by reducing the amount of chemicals nerve cells release that communicate pain. Gabapentin’s most common side effects include feeling dizzy or drowsy. It may also increase your risk for suicidal thoughts and cause a lack of coordination, nausea and vomiting, swelling in your legs and feet, vision problems and tremors. 21 Other Prescription Drugs Your Doctor May Try If you’ve tried the three FDA-approved drugs for fibromyalgia without any relief, consult a specialist about additional medication options. There are about 10 to 15 other medications your doctor may recommend off-label, especially if you don’t respond to the common fibromyalgia drugs. 9 These might include: 9, 10, 24 Amitriptyline (brand name Elavil, an older type of tricyclic antidepressant) Bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin, an antidepressant) Cyclobenzaprine (brand name Flexeril, tricyclic antidepressant also used as a muscle relaxer) Fluoxetine (brand name Prozac, an antidepressant) Memantine 18 (brand name Namenda, used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia) Paroxetine (brand name Paxil, an antidepressant) Sertraline (brand name Zoloft, an antidepressant) Sodium oxybate (brand name Xyrem, used to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy) Tizanidine (brand name Zanaflex, a muscle relaxant) Tramadol (brand name Ultram or ConZip, narcotic for pain relief) Venlafaxine (brand name Effexor, an antidepressant) Low-dose naltrexone (brand name Revia), a medication used for those who have an opioid or alcohol dependence, has been shown in studies to help with fibromyalgia symptoms. 14 The Future of Fibromyalgia Drug Treatments Scientists and drug companies are researching other medication-based treatment options to find more options for fibromyalgia treatment in the future. For example, biomedical company EpicGenetics plans on conducting a clinical trial using the generic tuberculosis (TB) vaccine bacillus calmette-guerin (BCG). The vaccine has been used safely for TB since 1921 and now researchers will explore if it has potential for treating fibromyalgia. 17 The trial hasn’t been conducted yet and how or if the BCG vaccine will be effective in treating fibromyalgia remains to be seen. Other approaches are likely also on the horizon. Less Effective Treatments Because one of your major symptoms of fibromyalgia is likely chronic pain, it seems only natural you might reach for over-the-counter painkillers, be prescribed opioids or try pain injections. These options may help some people, but because fibromyalgia impacts how your nervous system and brain processes pain, there is evidence these methods of pain reduction are less effective. Over-The-Counter Painkillers You might have noticed that over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) don’t usually help. Over-the-counter painkillers belong to a class of drugs called analgesics that reduce a chemical in the brain called prostaglandins, responsible for inflammation and swelling. Essentially these medications raise your pain threshold so you don’t feel as much pain. The chemicals and processes that cause pain and inflammation in fibromyalgia are different, so over-the-counter painkillers are generally not effective. Opioid Painkillers A doctor might recommend opioid painkillers like oxycodone (brand name OxyContin) or hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin) to reduce fibromyalgia pain. Fibromyalgia experts typically recommend against using opioids because long-term opioid use increases the risk of addiction. 12 In addition, preliminary research shows that opioids aren’t effective for fibromyalgia pain. When you have fibromyalgia, your endogenous opioid system — your natural pain relief system — doesn’t work quite right because your mu opioid receptor system may be impaired. Taking opioid painkillers likely won’t have the desired pain relief effect. 22 Pain Injections In some cases, your pain doctor may consider local steroid or anesthetic, trigger point or botox injections to reduce chronic pain. Most doctors use these treatments with caution and only if they believe they’ll be effective at shrinking your pain level. 13 It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where your pain may be coming from because the area of the body where you feel the pain may not be the source because of how your nervous system processes pain. 5 Standard Treatment Options Medication is only one treatment option for fibromyalgia, and medication alone is rarely enough to manage the condition. It’s best to use medication in combination with other standard treatment options such as movement exercises and cognitive behavioral therapy. Using these other treatment options can support a medication regimen and may be more effective than medication in many cases. 12 Exercise and Mobility Programs When you’re in a lot of pain, the last thing you want to do is move, but low-impact exercise and mobility treatments are crucial in managing fibromyalgia. Exercise is the most effective fibromyalgia treatment, with a 50 percent success rate among patients. 2, 12 It should be a part of most fibromyalgia treatment plans. Exercise here doesn’t usually mean running a marathon but rather taking the body through its full range of motion with light stretching, mobility exercises, strength training and graded exercises. 5 Keeping the body moving reduces pain and may prevent worsening pain in the future. Some doctors may even encourage you to set a long-term physical goal. So for example, signing up for a charity walk or bicycle ride depending on your ability as a motivation to make exercise a priority in your treatment plan and provide a sense of accomplishment. 13 Water therapy or hydrotherapy — performing physical exercises in a pool — reduce strain and impact on the body while allowing for a full range of movement. Mobility assistance devices, like canes or walkers, can also facilitate movement. Your fibromyalgia doctor or a physical therapist familiar with the condition can determine an exercise program that’s both manageable and helpful for you. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Fibromyalgia isn’t a mental illness, but traditional mental health therapy can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you skills to psychologically deal with chronic pain. A CBT program can help you cope with pain and reframe negative perceptions of having a chronic condition. It focuses on developing your strengths, and over time it has been shown to positively impact about 50 percent of fibromyalgia patients. 12 CBT therapy also calms your nervous system over time through strategies to reduce your anxiety, stress and hypervigilance. CBT practices that have a calming effect may include mindfulness practices like deep breathing, guided imagery, meditation or yoga. A calmer nervous system generally means less fibromyalgia pain. 5 Functional Medicine Approaches Because so little is known about the exact cause of fibromyalgia, it calls for a creative treatment approach that combines the best of Western medicine with other evidence-based practices that are often considered “alternative.” This could include various therapies, lifestyle changes and natural supplements your doctor may suggest. Alternative Therapies for Pain Reduction You can try a variety of available pain reduction techniques and therapies to manage chronic fibromyalgia pain. This could mean applying heat or ice to painful areas of your body. You may choose to see a chiropractor or therapeutic massage therapist who specializes in fibromyalgia to reduce pain. Acupressure or acupuncture, which are designed to reduce pain and promote wellness, may also provide relief. Myofascial Release Therapy Myofascial Release Therapy was developed by a physical therapist to address fascia, a system of connective tissue in your body tied into your autonomic nervous system. 14 Applying gentle, sustained pressure to the fascia slowly rehydrates these tissues to improve movement and reduce pain. Licensed practitioners know that where you feel fibromyalgia pain may come from another area in the body, and they work to apply pressure to those areas and loosen them up so you feel better. Relaxation Techniques Not only are relaxation techniques good for your psyche — and the stress of dealing with a chronic illness — they have a calming effect on your nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, which may provide some symptom relief. Try activities like meditation, relaxation exercises, yoga, breathing techniques and even aromatherapy. Biofeedback, a therapy where sensors are attached to your body as a way to gain more control over your body’s automatic responses to stress, may also be worth looking into. 11 Natural Supplements A wide variety of natural supplements on the market are advertised for fibromyalgia or chronic pain but consult with your doctor before trying any of these. Some supplements are useless, and others prevent your prescription medications from working or cause dangerous interactions. One natural product your doctor might recommend is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP). 5 This chemical occurs naturally in your body and is a precursor to serotonin. Supplementing 5HTP may help your body naturally increase its serotonin production, which might reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. You also have a significant amount of serotonin in your gut, so increasing your overall serotonin levels improves common fibro complications like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 5 Though there aren’t as many (or sometimes any studies) showing their effectiveness, some doctors might recommend alternative supplements to help your symptoms. This could include somnolin, which can help you sleep better. 5 Ashwagandha, also referred to as Indian ginseng, may reduce stress, pain and fatigue, according to at least one study. 5, 6 Chamomile may calm the nervous system without the “zombie” effect of some traditional medications. 5, 16 An increase in inositol — aka vitamin B8 — also has some research showing it can help with depression or anxiety, and therefore maybe also fibromyalgia symptoms. 5,20 Check with your doctor about additional options for managing your condition and before starting a supplement because sometimes they can interact with your other medications. CBD Products Cannabidiol (CBD) — a part of the cannabis plant that will not get you high — may benefit many painful conditions, including fibromyalgia. 4 Your body actually produces cannabinoids on its own. Though more research is needed, it’s believed that CBD interacts with your cannabinoid receptors or encourages the body to make more of its own cannabinoids. Many find CBD products relieve pain and have other healing properties. 14 CBD from hemp is legal in most U.S. states now, even if recreational marijuana is not. It’s not FDA-approved for fibromyalgia use, and there is still no convincing scientific evidence that its use benefits fibromyalgia symptoms. It did, however, receive approval to treat epilepsy in 2018, so its acceptance as a viable medical treatment is expanding in other areas. 4 Diet Changes Making lifestyle changes to your diet helps some people with fibromyalgia. These changes could include reducing your dairy intake, avoiding inflammatory foods and consuming more protein to boost your energy. Your doctor and several self-help resources suggest diets that might work, which will be different for everyone with fibromyalgia. Related: Here are some ways people describe what it’s like living with fibromyalgia. “23 Truths People With Fibromyalgia Wish Others Understood“ “25 ‘Habits’ of People With Fibromyalgia“ Treating Other Fibromyalgia Complications Fibromyalgia is way more than chronic pain and two of the most challenging parts of living with the condition are fatigue and mental health issues. In addition to managing your pain, finding a treatment that might help clear out some of your brain fog and taking care of any body function issues like constipation and diarrhea, make sure your doctor takes into account these other complications of fibromyalgia. Fatigue Fatigue is a major component of fibromyalgia, making it important to work on getting restorative sleep. Addressing sleep issues has a preventative and protective function in addition to helping you function better. Because your sympathetic nervous system stays in high-alert mode, you rarely get to a place of deep, restorative sleep with fibromyalgia. This leads to that constant fatigue, and it can make any brain fog or memory problems you’re experiencing worse. You might consider a sleep disorder specialist to learn insight into your sleep issues and address other comorbid sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Regular sleep medications likely won’t be helpful because they don’t impact your deep sleep needs. Go back to basics with your sleep hygiene to set yourself up for sleep success. 13 Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before you go to sleep. Reduce your screen time and shut down the bright electronics before bed. Turn off stimulating movies and videos games before going to bed. Take a bath or engage in other soothing practices right before bedtime to calm down. Make sure your sleep space is comfortable and inviting, from the feel of the sheets on your body to the temperature in the room. Stick with a sleep schedule so your body gets used to a routine. All of these simple techniques can be helpful. Mental Health Fibromyalgia is not a mental health condition, but when you live with fibromyalgia it’s common to have a comorbid mental illness. People with fibromyalgia are three times as likely to be diagnosed with depression. 8 Anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also common. Mental health symptoms sometimes overlap with fibromyalgia symptoms, so talk to your doctor or mental health professional. In addition to CBT practices for pain management, consider adjunct mental health therapy to address mental illness and build your emotional support system. Learn More About Fibromyalgia: Overview | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Resources | Related Conditions Sources Allergan. (2016). Medication Guide: Savella. Retrieved from https://www.savella.com/SavellaMedicationGuide.pdf Bhana, S. (2017). Fibromyalgia. 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