Fibromyalgia syndrome is a condition thought to affect up to 400 million people worldwide, or 5% of the population, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. It is characterized by widespread pain and fatigue, with 18 key trigger points in the body. There are also a myriad of other symptoms, and I would venture to guess that none of us have the same symptoms, the same level of pain, or achieve pain relief from the same things. Fibromyalgia is still somewhat of a medical mystery with no silver bullets or miracle cures on the horizon.
For years I have considered myself a “high-functioning fibrowarrior” because despite my flares, I somehow manage to push on. I have my share of pain, flares, and exhaustion. Let’s just say there is much less jumping and much more creaking when I get out of bed in the morning. And yes, I spend time in bed curled up with a heating pad. My flares seem to last longer the older I get. But the flares are fewer and far between.I am one of those people that avoids medications at all costs because I am sensitive to the side effects. I have adopted many lifestyle changes over the years that I truly believe has lessened the impact fibromyalgia has on my life. I don’t follow a completely homeopathic or naturopathic treatment method, as I do believe in modern medicine as needed. But my first stop is always to look at my lifestyle choices, and if there is a food or healthy option to help. Look to nature first.
“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein
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Here are my top six tips for achieving natural pain relief:
- Magnesium Malate (affiliate link) – I have written about this many times. And I won’t be without it. After spending thousands of dollars on MRIs, scans, tests and a myriad of doctors for some very troubling shoulder/arm pain, I started taking this supplement (pictured here) and the pain was gone within days. Days! I take one 1250 mg pill per night before bed. This formula doesn’t create issues with diarrhea, as is common with magnesium citrate. It supports muscles and energy production. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to fibromyalgia, so I highly recommend adding it as a supplement to your routine.
- Epson Salt Baths – Again this is high in magnesium that is easily absorbed through the skin, and it starts working faster. It relaxes you and calms those stressors that are firing. Perfect as part of your bedtime routine. My favorites are: Dr. Teal’s Lavender for an extra relaxing bath to help you sleep and Dr. Teal’s Pink Himalayan Salt to ease muscle pains (affiliate links). I have not tried any of the magnesium lotions yet, but that is next on my try list.
- Essential Oils – I have been using lavender on the soles of my feet at bedtime for awhile now and I use Eucalyptus for muscle pain relief (mixed in with body lotion or oil in the area of pain). I am a fan of the Aura Cacia brand, but there are many others available, as well as blends you can use. I have an old bottle of HerbalWorks MigraWorks that I have had for many years and I can’t find anymore. It “aids in the relief of headaches, muscle pain, tension, and inflammation.” It is a grapeseed oil base with spearmint and eucalyptus essential oils, and just a little bit goes a long way.
- Clean Eating – Truly by cleaning up and “unprocessing” my diet, I have been able to get a lot of pain relief. I mostly avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, peanuts, and GMOs. I wrote about this here and here.
- Exercise – My new favorite way to get exercise and pain relief is yoga. I wrote about the tops benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia here and recently completed a 30 Day Challenge which included a month of yoga. There are so many varieties of yoga to try with very gentle movements. Tai Chi is also another great alternative for fibromyalgia due to the slow fluid movements involved. “Yoga is a practice that incorporates self-care measures, such as relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing. It is a meditative movement practice that involves engaging in a series of coordinated movements while focusing on breathing, relaxation, meditation, or a combination. Similar practices include Tai chi and qi gong.” Read more here.
- Massage or Physical Therapy – There are times when it hurts to even be touched, so this isn’t always the best option for everyone. But there are massage therapists who specialize in fibromyalgia patients. And a doctor I see uses coconut oil with deep tissue release and manual adjustments, combined with physical therapy and at home exercises. This short treatment cycle (2-3 sessions) has gotten me much needed pain relief when my hip locks up and causes pain in my lower back and down my legs.
Above and beyond this, I rest and use either ice (if there’s inflammation and a true injury) or heat (if it’s just muscle aches or pain from fibromyalgia).
Change What You’re Doing
If you’re not getting better what you’re doing, you need to examine your strategies and try something else. “You life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
I hope you have learned some new things to try. What are your natural healing strategies for dealing with chronic pain or fibromyalgia flares?