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The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines fibromyalgia as, “a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms.” This disorder affects up to 2-4% of the population, with women being among the most likely to struggle with the symptoms. Fibromyalgia symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of arthritis; in fact, the Arthritis Foundation classifies fibromyalgia as a form of arthritis. Because the pain of fibromyalgia is chronic and fatiguing, it is often difficult to discern and diagnose.
The disease itself is largely considered to be a mystery; scientists have been unable to pinpoint what specifically causes fibromyalgia. Some research suggests that it is caused by an accident or injury, while certain experts think it could be related to illness or even occur randomly without warning. Because of its remarkable similarity to arthritis, Fibromyalgia can often be mistaken for other diseases. Regardless of the cause, there is hope to alleviate the pain of fibromyalgia.
There are several natural ways to combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
When you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is move around and potentially exacerbate the already aching areas. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that consistent physical activity can greatly improve symptoms of pain, increase your function and overall improve the quality of your life.
Exercise can be daunting, especially when you feel ill prepared or disheartened with your physical capabilities. Perhaps begin with a few minutes of walking per day, whether that be in the comfort of your own home, or outside on a nice morning or afternoon. Little by little, you can begin to walk for longer amounts of time and farther distances.
It is important, however, to not overdo it, giving your body an adequate amount of rest, relaxation, and rehydration in between exercise sessions to avoid stressing the body.
Several studies have been conducted on fibromyalgia and yoga. In fact, there’s even been a book written about it! Yoga has many significant health benefits to those who suffer from the pain of fibromyalgia, specifically its emphasis on relaxation. Fibromyalgia can often cause incapacitating pain, and the relaxation and deep breathing techniques of yoga could potentially assist with pain management. Further study is needed to determine its true effectiveness, but the studies conducted thus far are considered “promising” according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health. Medical News Today quoted an analysis saying, “According to an analysis in Health Psychology Review, participation in yoga appears to reduce the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress response in the body. Other psychological benefits can include a more positive affect and increased mindfulness.”
Another alternative to Yoga is Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a calming, movement-based activity that emphasizes health, meditation and martial arts. Mayo Clinic proposes that Tai Chi can be a gentle way to fight stress and anxiety, which can occur in correlation with fibromyalgia. Tai Chi is performed in a series of slow movements in combination with deep breathing. These movements can increase flexibility and strengthen muscles.
It is always best to consult a doctor before attempting to do any type of yoga pose or Tai Chi techniques.
Music Therapy is one way to take your mind off of the pain of a bad day. The University of Granada published a study in 2011 that stated Music Therapy could potentially relieve some of the symptoms related to fibromyalgia. The technique can be performed at home and is based on, according to the university study, showing the patient specific images in combination with music. The overall effect of the therapy can be decreased depression, anxiety, stress and pain. It is recommended by doctors who have conducted music therapy studies that the music have a beat of 60 beats per minute or lower. There certainly needs to be more research conducted to affirm the effectiveness of music therapy on more patients with fibromyalgia, but the results so far are promising.
It is very important to get enough sleep when your body isn’t feeling well. In order to get good sleep, you want to make sure to keep a regular schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will train your body to rest and wake peacefully, increasing the amount of beneficial rest that you can get. In addition to keeping a schedule it is smart to avoid caffeine, spicy foods and loud stimulation right before bedtime. The body needs a calm and quiet environment to sleep, and to provide that, you need to keep outside stimulations to a minimum.
There is no arguing with a proper and nutritious diet. Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia have stated, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, that their symptoms decreased when they were consuming a properly balanced diet. While no diet has been scientifically proven to alleviate the symptoms, eating a nutritious diet can greatly improve the quality of your life. Proper nutrition will give you more energy, which can help you feel more prepared to fight the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
By applying these five easy steps, you can begin your fight against fibromyalgia pain. Always remember that even on bad days, there is hope for tomorrow. By pursuing exercise, mindful body movement, relaxation through music, getting better sleep and eating a healthy diet, you can fight back against the pain.