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Favorite “Alternative” Treatments for Fibromyalgia

As you probably have guessed, I am not a trained medical health professional. What I am is a mom, a mimi, a retired teacher, a lover of nature and of music, as well as, someone living with chronic illnesses. I share my journey to provide some insight and hopefully ideas that may be helpful to others dealing with similar issues. Always, consult with your doctor before trying anything new.

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Alternate Ways to Live More FULLY

Once you get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it can be so confusing as to what direction to go when it comes to managing your health and trying to live your life as FULLY as possible. It’s especially difficult because most doctors really don’t have great suggestions. In the USA, there are only three FDA-approved prescription drugs: Cymbalta and Savella (antidepressants) and Lyrica (anti-seizure medication). If you research the side effects of these drugs, it can be a bit scary to agree to use them.

That was how I felt. However, after 7-months of getting exceedingly worse, I finally caved and agreed to take the lowest dose of Cymbalta my doctor would prescribe. In the end, I decided to stop taking it. The side-effects (feeling really blah and not able to have an orgasm) as well as, the fear of long-term addiction caused me to stop taking it. I did this under a doctor’s supervision, however, I found that I still went through 3-months of withdrawal that left me feeling nauseated, dizzy, headache, and overwhelmed.

Luckily, there are several bloggers out there who have shared with me what works for them. Through that and my own research, I slowly began my arsenal of alternative treatments that help me to live a FULL life despite chronic pain and all that comes along with that.

In this collaborative post, eight bloggers from the Fibro Blogger Directory each share their TOP THREE ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS with details as to the whats, hows, and whys. Notice that we didn’t all list the same top three. That would be too easy, wouldn’t it? Fibromyalgia, you will learn if you haven’t already, tends to affect each of us differently. Some FM patients actually do well taking Cymbalta, for example.

The work for you is to know yourself: mind, body, soul. Within that knowledge, then, choose what treatments sound like a good fit. Once you decide to try something, give it a fair chance. Don’t expect results in one day (although you may) or even one month. My health coach, Sharon Waldorp, said that I needed to give gluten-free 60 days to see if it actually is working. I would say the same to you; 60-days. Also, as to not confuse the results, don’t add in any other new things during this time, or you won’t really know if it’s actually helping or not.

It is the norm to be in such a desperate state of pain, exhaustion, depression, and brain fog, that you are willing to try ANYTHING to get any amount of relief. I know, been there! But, if you can stave off buying every form of suggested supplement, pain cream, or massage tool, you can save yourself a lot of money and time.

I recommend reading through each blogger’s (all veterans in the area of living with Fibromyalgia) top go-to’s and making a list of the ones you feel most fit your needs and level of comfort. Then, give one a fair try. During your 60 day trial, please feel free to share your experience with us in the comments and to reach out to the blogger or bloggers who shared that treatment for any nuances they may impart so that you have the best possible results.

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Me, Katie, of Pain FULLY Living

  1. Low Dose Naltrexone: I take Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) twice a day. LDN is an off-label prescribed medication that has given my life back to me. I have clarity of thinking, energy, and lower pain levels. It is not an anti-depressant or an opioid.  There are several quality small research studies from Standford University, U of M, and others that have shown LDN helps people with chronic pain; it does so without being addictive or with adverse side-effects.  To learn about my journey, see my blog post I Did It My Way! One Year of Low Does Naltrexone for Fibromyalgia.
  2. Meditation: The main focus of my wellness journey has been to rewire my over-amped-up nervous system. As I learned more how Fibromyalgia works, I realized that I had been living in fight/flight/freeze for all 54 years of my life due to a very turbulent childhood with a single-parent mom who had undiagnosed mental illnesses. A couple of years ago, I took a free online Mindfullness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course.  It focused on meditation.  I never thought I could slow my brain down enough to meditate, but I learned that I didn’t need to.  I can’t express how much meditation has helped me.  When I get brain fog or exhausted, I lay down to do a twenty-minute guided meditation, body scan, and, usually, I get up clear-minded and re-energized. To read more about my experience, see my post: Mind Over Matter: 21 Days of Meditation
  3. Mind-Body Syndrome Treatments: Since last spring, after watching the documentary THIS MIGHT HURT by Kent Bassett and Marion Cunningham, I have worked with Dr. Howard Schubiner (featured in the film) on Mind-Body Syndrome Treatments.  I can attest that 6 months into this, I am having much fewer symptoms with Interstitial Cystitis (even turning off my Interstim Implant). I was able, this September, to do something I never thought I’d do again-backpack.  I went with 3 other women for a 5-day backpack on the Pictured Rocks Trail. Since then, I have continued to push the envelope.  I keep noticing improvements.  Yesterday, I ran at the rest stop we were at in Florida after a 10-hour drive in the car.  My legs could do it without feeling like the Tinman without being oiled!  To read more about my experience with MBS Treatment, read Unlearning My Pain: Mind-Body Syndrome.

Melissa of Melissa VS Fibromyalgia

  1. Yoga: So, yoga can be used therapeutically – not in the way you might be imagining. I’m talking the four tools: Gentle stretching, restorative yoga (a type of passive stretching that is very relaxing), Breathwork, and meditation. All four, used well, help us to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of the stress response) and rest and relax.
  2. Acupuncture done by a physiotherapist: By placing an acupuncture needle in my trigger points and letting them rest, I’ve felt more relief than through any other physical treatment.
  3. Nutritional supplements: namely Recovery Factors and magnesium, but I’ve tried many over the years.

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Lee of Fibro Files

  1. Magnesium: The nutritional supplement I get a great benefit from is magnesium. I have proven this to myself by using magnesium to stop leg cramps and muscle twitches all over the body. I then stopped taking the magnesium and all these annoying symptoms returned within one week. I started taking magnesium again and the jerks and cramping pains went away. I now take magnesium everyday.
  2. Hydrotherapy or walking and floating in water: This is something that gives my muscles both the relief and the workout they need. For both of these activities, your body is supported by the water so this takes some stress off the muscles. I alternate with about 5 minutes of walking and then floating. I enjoy doing this in warm water, but many people recommend cold. I first started this as hydrotherapy exercises in a warm pool, with an instructor, but because of covid, the pools have been closed for two years so now I do this activity in a nearby river.
  3. Massage: Myofascial massage is my favorite type of massage as it releases tension and pain. You really need to find a practitioner who knows what they are doing. Some people recommend rolfing or Bowen therapy for the same reasons of releasing the painful trigger points.

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Shannon of Route 5976

  1. Nature: Getting out for walks in nature as often as I can. Fresh air and focusing on my surroundings during my walk helps me to feel grounded and calm.
  2. Gentle yoga and stretching in the morning: Even on mornings when I’m sore, I find if I do 5-minutes of stretching it can help.
  3. Regular physiotherapy: I usually go every 8 weeks, and it really helps me.

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Tash of Bohemian BNSPYRD

  1. Magnesium Forte: It may not seem to make much difference when I am taking it regularly; however I certainly do notice the difference when I stop taking it (mostly due to not being able to afford it). 
  2. Mindfulness & Stretching: A strong thought process to ease some of the pains brought on from Fibro; a way of retraining the brain if you will and at the same time utilizing gentle stretching of overused muscles.
  3. Grounding: Getting out in nature and feeling the grass through my toes, allowing my body to relax.

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Cynthia of Disabled Diva

  1. Cannabis: It relaxes my muscles, decreases nerve pain, and makes it possible to sleep well 97% of the time.
  2. PEMF Therapy: This at-home treatment reduces much of the pain I experience from inflammation. This includes weather-induced inflammation from high pressure.
  3. Infrared Red Light Therapy: Another at-home device that I use to comfort sore and aching muscles and joints.

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Carrie of My Several Worlds

  1. Jinshin Jyutsu: Jinshin Jyutsu is a style of acupressure that involves the application of the hands for balancing energy in the body. Japanese acupressure helps to heal the body and mind.
  2. Reiki: Reiki is an energy healing technique that promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety through gentle touch.
  3. Distraction through books: When I just have to give and rest, I find that reading gets my mind off my pain.

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Bar of Back Pain Blog UK

  1. Cooking: When cooking, use foods with multiple uses by making a stew that can last two meals, like a roast chicken, followed by a chicken salad or a chicken curry, then you only need to stand working in the kitchen for one morning. 
  2. Traveling: Before going away, sleep and rest enough to be ready for the travel which can drain you if it’s a long haul. 
  3. Sleeping: Rest is a key factor in successfully managing and living with fibromyalgia, so get as much as you can when you can.

I hope that you find something new that will help you. Do you already have some alternative tools you use to help you live your life FULLY despite chronic pain? I’d love to hear what works for you.

My granddaughter says, “Sharing is Caring”;)

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I am committing to posting once a week by Friday.  However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes I have to listen to my body, and I cannot follow through as planned. I appreciate your understanding.

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