Updated: Jul 8, 2021
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterized by multiple tender points throughout the entire body that persists for more than three months. The condition's cause is unknown, but theories suggest that an alteration of neurotransmitters, serotonin, and catecholamines, are present and lead to decreased pain threshold and elevated pain ratings. This change causes nonpainful stimuli to become painful; a sensation called allodynia. The increased presence of pain can lead to poor sleep, chronic fatigue, and a decreased quality of life.
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Current fibromyalgia treatment plans follow an individualistic approach that caters to each patient's unique needs. The most effective strategies involve movement therapy, meditation, and nutritional changes. Many treatment plans involve a pharmaceutical component, all of which are safe but only proven successful in short-term studies.
What Can I do at Home To Help My Fibromyalgia?
Movement therapy includes participation in Tai Chi, Yoga, and a cardiovascular fitness training program. The goal of movement therapy is to address the cognitive and emotional components of chronic pain and the physical phenomenon of pain. By participating at least twice a week in one of these movement therapies, patients reported a decrease in anxiety, depression, and functional impairment and an increase in quality of sleep, physical performance, and quality of life. With the challenges COVID-19 brought the world, there is greater access to these classes from home. Many are free with ads on YouTube or available for purchase through other streaming platforms.
Meditation and mindfulness training is often not considered when addressing fibromyalgia and other long-suffering conditions. Still, they are powerful tools for managing the cognitive aspect of chronic pain. By regularly participating in each, one can learn to change their response to pain and stress positively. A two-month follow-up study on the effects of meditation on fibromyalgia symptoms indicates that patients who practice meditation decrease their perceived stress, fatigue, and symptom severity. Meditation is one of the longest-lasting therapies available in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Nutritional intervention can also impact symptom severity in patients with fibromyalgia. It is also one of the most variable factors in treatment, as every patient is different, and they must find what works for them. Recent literature supports several avenues of nutritional supplementation or change in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Vitamin D supplementation, CoQ10, acetyl-L-carnitine, and changes to a vegetarian/vegan or low FODMAP diet (see chart below) may reduce pain in fibromyalgia patients. Nutrition and diet changes can be challenging, but patients need not worry about taking an 'all or nothing' approach. Small, sustainable alterations are enough to make a difference in symptoms, leaving no need to make sudden drastic changes.
Interested in learning more ways to lead a more physically comfortable life? Check out these other blog posts by Comprehensive Chiropractic:
Bourgaize, S., Newton, G., Kumbhare, D., & Srbely, J. (2018). A comparison of the clinical manifestation and pathophysiology of myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia: implications for differential diagnosis and management. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 62(1), 26–41.
Lee, C., MA, Crawford, C., BA, Schoomaker, E., MD, PhD, Active Self-Care Therapies for Pain (PACT) Working Group, Movement Therapies for the Self-Management of Chronic Pain Symptoms, Pain Medicine, Volume 15, Issue S1, April 2014, Pages S40–S53, https://doi.org/10.1111/pme.12411
Lowry, E., Marley, J., McVeigh, J. G., McSorley, E., Allsopp, P., & Kerr, D. (2020). Dietary Interventions in the Management of Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Best-Evidence Synthesis. Nutrients, 12(9), 2664. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092664
Prabhakar, A., Kaiser, J.M., Novitch, M.B. et al. The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments in Fibromyalgia: a Comprehensive Review. Curr Rheumatol Rep 21, 14 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11926-019-0814-0
Comprehensive Chiropractic & Sports Performance is your Complete Wellness Center. St. Louis turns to us for chronic pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and treatment for many other conditions. We believe that our health is our greatest asset. Any effort we make towards taking care of ourselves is valuable and necessary. 636.938.9310 Main Office: 113 West 5th Street, Eureka, MO