"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them -- every day begin the task anew."
Saint Francis de Sales
Odds are if you have fibromyalgia, you have heard about alternative treatments that may help you feel better. In fact, 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients have reported trying such alternative therapies as massage, acupuncture, dietary supplements or chiropractic treatment to ease their symptoms.
While research has yet to prove that all alternative therapies work in treating fibromyalgia, there is a lot of evidence that supports acupuncture as a successful treatment. Using super-thin needles, acupuncturists stimulate various pressure points to provide pain relief. Some studies show that electroacupuncture, in which an electric current is pulsed through a needle, is more effective than the traditional method.
Many people with fibromyalgia find different alternative methods effective. And like mainstream fibromyalgia treatments, what works for one person might have no effect on another. Bottom line: You have to shop around to see what is best for you.
Here are some other options:
Massage: Massage therapists work on the muscles and soft tissue of the body to alleviate pain, muscle spasms and stress. However, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reviewed research about the effectiveness of treating fibromyalgia with massage and found that the benefits are only short-term.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: Often called CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be among the most effective non-medication treatments for fibromyalgia. CBT helps change the way you think about pain with the goal of changing the way your body responds to pain, thus making the pain less severe. It may also help improve sleep.
Though studies on the following methods have been deemed insufficient by some medical experts, they are still widely used by people with fibromyalgia, with varying degrees of success.
Myofascial release therapy works to stretch, soften, lengthen and realign connective tissue to ease pain.
Chiropractic treatment manipulates the spine into proper alignment, helping to boost immune system function and reduce pain.
Dietary supplements magnesium and SAM-e are often used to treat fibromyalgia. SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound in our bodies that helps in the production of dopamine and serotonin, which regulate mood and control the pain response. Preliminary research has shown evidence that SAM-e supplements may work to keep symptoms in check, but further study is needed. Magnesium is helpful in hundreds of ways, like converting food into energy, strengthening the immune system, and maintaining normal nerve and muscle function. Some researchers believe that a deficiency of this mineral contributes to fibromyalgia symptoms, though research into its efficacy has been inconclusive.
Finding the alternative treatment that works for you will require some experimentation. Ask your doctor for recommendations and be sure to tell him or her which treatments you already are using. This is especially important with dietary and herbal supplements since they can interact with other medications and possibly cause side effects.
If you have the flu, spend a few days in bed, and you’ll likely feel better. Fibromyalgia is different. Symptoms are eased, never cured, and there is no one “remedy” that works for everyone. For these reasons, fibromyalgia patients should develop a personalized treatment plan to minimize flare-ups and the severity of symptoms.
Identify your symptoms
Widespread, chronic pain is a hallmark of fibromyalgia. It’s diagnosed by the presence of tenderness in 18 specific points of the body, with at least 11 of those 18 spots being abnormally tender, even when mildly touched. Fatigue, sleep, and memory and concentration problems (often called “fibro fog”) also are common symptoms of fibromyalgia. You might also experience restless legs syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, painful menstruation, depression, dry eyes, anxiety or headaches. Make sure you work with your doctor to treat all of your ailments.
Find the right medications
To date, pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) are the only medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia pain. Tricyclic antidepressants often have been found to be the most efficacious medications for fibromyalgia, especially since sleep and fatigue problems respond well to some antidepressants. But other painkillers, from over-the-counter ibuprofen to prescription-only narcotics, also are prescribed.
Talk to your doctor about what will give you the greatest relief with the fewest side effects. Because there are so many medications to choose from, you may need to use trial and error to help determine which is best for you. If antidepressants don’t work, you may need to incorporate sleep aids or muscle relaxants into your treatment plan.
Explore alternative treatments
For many people, massage and acupuncture, as well as Pilates, tai chi, chiropractic treatment, and various dietary supplements, can provide relief. You also may find it helpful to work with a physician who incorporates complementary medicine into his or her practice.
Make healthy changes
Stress reduction, a healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce fibromyalgia flare-ups, so lifestyle changes should be a part of your treatment plan. Sleep also is crucial for managing symptoms. Devising a treatment plan will require coordinating with your primary care doctor and/or a rheumatologist, physical therapist, naturopathic physician (if you use one) and other health professionals. Make sure everyone on your health care team is aware of your plan, and consult your doctor before making adjustments.
Keep an open mind when traveling and you can have a fantastic time. Just because you have a medical condition, you don't have to miss out on the fun and adventures of traveling. Give yourself extra time, know the information about your destination, and utilize any assistive devices to make your journey easier. Don't be hard on yourself and expect perfection because even those who are in "perfect health" sometimes need assistance. Lastly, enjoy!Read more: "Traveling with a Medical Condition: Helpful Tricks for Healthy Travel | Suite101.com" -http://neurologicalillness.suite101.com/article.cfm/traveling_with_a_medical_condition#ixzz0G0IecwS5&A
While there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, better ways to diagnose and treat the chronic pain disorder continue to be developed. Since June 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three medications for the treatment of fibromyalgia and other FM medications are currently in development. Research efforts have expanded as well. In 1990 there were approximately 200 published research papers on fibromyalgia studies. Today there are more than 4,000 published reports.
While many strides have been made in the last decade, fibromyalgia remains a challenging condition. However, clinical studies have demonstrated that fibromyalgia patients can reduce their symptoms through a variety of treatment options. Working in conjunction with knowledgeable healthcare professions, motivated and informed patients can experience significant improvement in their symptoms and quality of life. Developing an individualize self-management plan, from identifying effective treatments approaches to making necessary lifestyle changes, will further improve one’s health.
There is no magic formula for meditating. Unlike running a race, there is no finish line or world record to break. Getting the hang of it requires an investment of time and patience. Don’t have much of either? You can still meditate.
Try these four meditation techniques to get started:
Keep it brief: You might not have an hour a day to set aside for meditation, so take five- or 10-minute meditation breaks throughout the day.
“Aim to meditate for a total of one hour per day,” says Mark Thornton, a New York City-based meditation teacher and author of Meditation in a New York Minute: Super Calm for the Super Busy (Sounds True, Inc., 2006). “Meditating for a few minutes throughout the day to add up to one hour is just as effective as meditating for a full hour.”
Be consistent: Meditating is a lot like working out at the gym: You need to keep doing it to get results. According to Thornton, a daily practice is best. If the idea of meditating daily feels too overwhelming, aim to meditate every other day. The goal is to set a schedule that you can maintain long-term.
Try active meditation: Meditation doesn’t have to be done in a dark room while seated in the lotus position. You can meditate in the shower, standing in line at the supermarket or even washing the dishes.
To begin an active meditation, take slow, deep breaths and tune into your surroundings – feel the warmth of the dishwater as it covers your hands, watch the bubbles fill the sink, smell the fresh lemon scent of the dish detergent and hear the sound of the dishes clanking together – and continue that mindfulness throughout the meditation.
Adjust your focus. In order to reap the rewards of meditation, it’s important to follow one simple guideline for doing it right: Focus your attention. It’s meditating and not just a series of thoughts when you’re controlling your focus on something specific – a flickering candle flame, a simple mantra – and not your to-do list.
“You’ll know you’re doing it right if you continually notice when your attention has wandered and gently guide your focus back,” Hanley says. “It doesn’t matter how many times you have to redirect yourself, only that you do. It’s learning to steer your attention away from the endless stream of thoughts that quiets the mind and promotes relaxation.”
By Jodi Helmer
While the underlying cause or causes of FM still remain a mystery, new research findings continue to bring us closer to understanding the basic mechanisms of fibromyalgia. Most researchers agree that FM is a disorder of central processing with neuroendocrine/neurotransmitter dysregulation. The FM patient experiences pain amplification due to abnormal sensory processing in the central nervous system. An increasing number of scientific studies now show multiple physiological abnormalities in the FM patient, including: increased levels of substance P in the spinal cord, low levels of blood flow to the thalamus region of the brain, HPA axis hypofunction, low levels of serotonin and tryptophan and abnormalities in cytokine function.
Recent studies show that genetic factors may predispose individuals to a genetic susceptibility to FM. For some, the onset of FM is slow; however, in a large percentage of patients the onset is triggered by an illness or injury that causes trauma to the body. These events may act to incite an undetected physiological problem already present.
Exciting new research has also begun in the areas of brain imaging and neurosurgery. Ongoing research will test the hypothesis that FM is caused by an interpretative defect in the central nervous system that brings about abnormal pain perception. Medical researchers have just begun to untangle the truths about this life-altering disease.
Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Doctors must rely on patient histories, self-reported symptoms, a physical examination and an accurate manual tender point examination. This exam is based on the standardized American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Proper implementation of the exam determines the presence of multiple tender points at characteristic locations.
It is estimated that it takes an average of five years for an FM patient to get an accurate diagnosis. Many doctors are still not adequately informed or educated about FM. Laboratory tests often prove negative and many FM symptoms overlap with those of other conditions, thus leading to extensive investigative costs and frustration for both the doctor and patient. Another essential point that must be considered is that the presence of other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, does not rule out an FM diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion and must be diagnosed by its own characteristic features.
To receive a diagnosis of FM, the patient must meet the following diagnostic criteria:
Chronic widespread body pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia. Most people with fibromyalgia also experience moderate to extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to touch, light, and sound, and cognitive difficulties. Many individuals also experience a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, lupus and arthritis.
Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.
Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis andfibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.
Whether you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or suffer from its symptoms, or have a family member or friend with the disorder, this section is designed to provide you with a better understanding of this chronic pain disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.