A 2010 review of studies on alternative treatments for Fibromyalgia in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine determined that the following have significant effect on treating Fibromyalgia.
- Acupuncture – Having needles poked into your skin doesn’t sound pleasant, but it really doesn’t hurt much at all, especially compared tot he pain you are likely already feeling. Of 11 studies reviewed, 10 showed acupuncture to have a significantly positive effect on Fibromyalgia symptoms. Minor side effects of bruising were reported
- Balneotherapy is basically warm water baths. There were few studies to review, but of the four that were found, 3 showed improvement in at least 1 Fibromyalgia symptom. As the review authors said, there wasn’t enough info to really make a statement on whether it’s a valuable tool, but with improvement on even one symptom, given the low cost of a warm bath, I’ll take a bath (and do every night).
- Biofeedback is a process of hooking you up to monitors where you watch your heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, etc and then learn how to control those items. Of the four studies found pertaining to Fibromyalgia, three showed biofeedback effective. However, every study was different and the numbers were small so it’s difficult to know exactly what may be needed for it to work.
- Massage – Three out of four studies reviewed showed positive outcomes from massage for Fibromyalgia patients. However, none showed long-term improvement. One issue in these studies is that different forms of massage are used making it again difficult to see specific results.
- Meditation – Five studies examined the benefit of meditation for Fibromyalgia. Meditation involves focusing on breathing and focus through gentle movements. Studies included qui gong and mindfulness based therapy.
- Music Therapy – While only one study was completed regarding the effects of music therapy on Fibromyalgia, it did show significant positive impact on symptoms.
- Supplements – Unfortunately the review was not specific about which supplements and just lumped them all together as “general supplements” but the studies reviewed did show positive outcomes for the use of general supplements to treat Fibromyalgia. (I suggest magnesium, fish oil, and vitamin D). The review actually referenced Magnesium under “Vitamins and Minerals” as the only one that had studies showing it significantly effective on its own.
- Homeopathy – the idea of homeopathy is that you can somehow relieve symptoms by providing extremely small amounts of a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people. Four studies were reviewed, and three of those showed significant improvement for patients with Fibro.
Which alternative therapies have you tried for Fibromyalgia? I can honestly say that I have tried all of this to some degree, but there are a couple that I’d like to look into further.
Porter, N., Jason, L., Boulton, A., Bothne, N., & Coleman, B. (2010). Alternative medical interventions used in the treatment and management of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 16(3), 235-249. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0376
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