Recently Lady Gaga debuted her documentary ‘Gaga: Five Foot Two’ at the Toronto International Film Festival. This moving documentary was a great reminder of the misinformation surrounding the treatment of a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia. For example, in the documentary Lady Gaga had been using ice for pain relief, not knowing that moist heatis usually the most beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. So I thought I would outline some natural treatment modalities that can be used for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
OSTEOPATHY | Head to toe treatment is imperative when it comes to addressing widespread pain. Osteopathic techniques that focus on the muscles, fascia and joints can help to reduce pain and levels of stress hormones [cortisol]. Since poor sleep is part of the etiology of fibromyalgia, relaxation techniques that can promote deep sleep are beneficial.
MOIST HEAT | Heating pads that provide moist heat are helpful for stiff joints and tight muscles. The heat helps to improve circulation. As an added bonus it can even help you fall asleep. We often think of being warm as being cozy and this psychological link can be used to promote sleep. However, for high quality sleep you should be at a cooler temperature so the heating pad should just be used for 20 – 30 minutes before bed to help you sleep. Most come with a timer so it will automatically turn off after the set time.
DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS | There are a number of supplements that may be beneficial in the management of fibromyalgia. 5-HTP is a building block form the feel good brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of magnesium may be linked to fibromyalgia and supplementation is often recommended for people with muscle spasms.
MASSAGE | Just 20 minutes of moderate pressure massage can increase the production of serotonin and lessen the chemicals associated with pain and stress.
EXERCISES | Strength training and low-impact exercise has tremendous benefits for those suffering from fibromyalgia. Aqua aerobics in particular has been shown to improve mobility, reduce pain and improve quality of sleep.