3 Practical Pain Management Solutions for Fibromyalgia

Practical Pain Management Solutions for Fibromyalgia

Pain in the body can stem from many things.  For someone who has fibromyalgia, pain management could easily be a daily focus.

What is it like to have fibromyalgia?

People with fibromyalgia may feel as though they are on a daily roller coaster. 

Pain in the body can be inconsistent and not always predictable.  In fibromyalgia, the symptoms can be more or less just present, not necessarily worsening or improving.  Yet, they are chronic.  Also, the understanding of how best to address them may be less clear.  The pain and symptoms that result from fibromyalgia vary by person.

3 Practical Pain Management Solutions for Fibromyalgia, woman upset
Photo by Fa Barboza

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that may emerge in mid-life (ages 30’s-50’s).  It is considered prominent in women but can still show up in men.  Research for this health condition is on-going. 

Body pains in joints and muscles are common, particularly in the neck, back, and legs.  Also, nerve pain or sensitivity seems to be present in people with fibromyalgia.  Other nagging symptoms may also present challenges, such as headaches or negative impacts on a person’s moods.  

How the condition fits under autoimmune-related conditions has been researched, but the determinations have been inconclusive.  Currently, clinical science does not support fibromyalgia as an autoimmune disease.

The condition does have symptoms comparable to other autoimmune diseases such as forms of arthritis or multiple sclerosis (MS).  However, it is different in how it mechanizes.  The measurement of specific antibodies or markers of inflammation used in the diagnosis of other conditions has not been applicable for diagnosing fibromyalgia. 

There are certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, that may increase the likelihood of fibromyalgia to develop.  Hence, the condition comes up in discussions of autoimmunity.

The chronic pain that results from fibromyalgia can be tricky to manage.  People with the condition have described their pain as “shifting” within the body and not specific to one particular area.  Therefore, making it hard for health providers to treat.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can also be disruptive to sleep.  Furthermore, poor sleep can exacerbate pain in the body.

The area of neuroscience has studied the condition. Researchers have been working to understand dynamics related to the neural pathways in the body and the related dysfunction within the nervous system. Therefore, the pain from conditions like fibromyalgia may not be structural and, instead, the result of misguided signals from the brain.

Furthermore, this has led to emerging scientific studies on how and why the brain is communicating (or “messaging”) with the body.  Researchers have been looking for possible associations with trauma or chronic stress with the assumption that this could be a conclusive factor to explain why pain from fibromyalgia presents differently in people.

How to tackle pain management for fibromyalgia?

The focus for pain management with fibromyalgia is often on reducing symptoms. Doing so may be handled through medication, self-care, and lifestyle changes. Approaches may include exercise or physical therapies, tactics that keep stress at bay and an uplifted mood, and maintaining a healthy diet. 

Inflammation is not currently considered a primary concern for fibromyalgia.  However, finding ways to lower it can still be relevant to the overall health of the body and the management of pain.

Fibromyalgia could use more targeted studies to understand the best approaches.  However, people with this condition have seen health benefits from practices such as yoga or treatments like acupuncture.  There is also compelling information to suggest that treating pain related to fibromyalgia is as much about treating mental and emotional circumstances as it is the physical body.

Approaches in lifestyle can help with pain in the body. 

Three focus areas for fibromyalgia pain management include the following:

Daily stretches that focus on mobility and reduction of stiffness may lead to a reduction in overall pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia.  A combination of dynamic and static stretching with the emphasis on nurturing joints, connective tissue, and muscles could be supportive of a full-body approach.  Leveraging targeted breathwork with the stretches is something that could help the mind-body connection and reduce the burden from daily stressors.

3 Practical Pain Management Solutions for Fibromyalgia, man walking cloudy day
Photo by Patryk Sobczak

Furthermore, mind-body approaches may also be significant for fibromyalgia patients.  Meditation and other relaxation techniques could be supportive in both pain management and outcomes related to sleep.  Yoga could serve as both a moving meditation and conditioning for the structural components of the body.  Other mind-body techniques that can “retrain” the brain or address past trauma people may have had are in various experimental phases.

Support groups, either online or in-person, and the appropriate psychological therapies have also notable support for the treatment of fibromyalgia.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach that has been studied more thoroughly.  The boost in mood and feelings of well-being that these supportive facets can provide could have a positive effect on patients who are coping with pain from fibromyalgia.    

While research is on-going, attention from both the medical community and other wellness channels is growing around fibromyalgia.  Exploration of how to treat the condition and reduce the cumbersome symptoms, such as chronic pain, continue to evolve.

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