Pain, Muscles | April 17, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Fibromyalgia, Pain


Fibromyalgia is a chronic rheumatoid disorder that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, stiffness, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. " Fibro" meaning connective tissue fibres and "my" meaning muscle and "algia" meaning condition of pain. Many people believe fibromyalgia to be a relatively new condition, but this disorder has existed for centuries and was once considered a mental disorder. Fibromyalgia, despite the stigma that surrounds it, is a clinical condition that is estimated to affect 2%-4% of the world’s population.


Although fibromyalgia is classified along with other arthritic conditions, it is not a type of arthritis. This is because it does not present with the characteristics of typical arthritis, such as inflammation and damage to soft tissue and joints. People with fibromyalgia can usually identify up to 18 tender points that are painful when touched or stimulated.

In order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a doctor or medical professional will usually take into consideration a range of symptoms, especially the report of widespread pain, that lasts for at least three months.  

The most common symptoms include:

  • Widespread physical pain
  • Pain that occurs in the same spot, on  both sides of the body
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • The inability to focus, also known as “fibro fog”
  • Frequent headaches
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paresthesia (tingling)
  • Irritable Bowl Syndrome
  • Heightened sensitivity to bright lights, noise and smells.
  • Dizziness
  • Hemorrhoids


At this point the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. At best new scientific researches have made attempts to theorize possible contributing factors.

  • Physical or psychological trauma
  • Injury or infection
  • Genetics
  • Other rheumatic disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Disregulation of the autonomic nervous system
  • ​Changes in brain chemicals

In other cases, however, symptoms of fibromyalgia may begin to present without any significant trigger event.

A recent study conducted taking the brain scans of 20 women with fibromyalgia and 10 women without the condition, suggested that fibromyalgia may be related to a global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing - the way the body deals with pain.

Risk Factors

It appears that fibromyalgia is indiscriminant regarding its target demographic. It has been reported to affect people of all races and genders, even children. Women are much more susceptible to the condition than men. It is also noted that many people who have fibromyalgia also have other conditions such as Temporomandibular joint disorder, irritable bowl syndrome, tension headaches, anxiety and depression.

Natural therapies for fibromyalgia

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia at this time. The use of Natural Therapies aims are to help manage the symptoms of the condition such as pain and discomfort, sleep, anxiety and dysfunctional bowel issues by suggesting natural, minimally invasive therapies and lifestyle modifications.   


A healthy, well-balanced diet is always vital for the foundation to a healthy body.

A balanced diet should consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Include lean meats, fish, chicken and eggs and eat foods as close to nature as possible.

Avoid unhealthy foods such as processed foods, foods high in sugars, salts and unsaturated fats.

There are certain foods that are known to trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

These include:

  • Caffeine
  • Aspartame
  • Sugar
  • MSG and sodium nitrite
  • Dairy
  • Gluten


A lack of good qualilty sleep can be a symptom and also aggravate other symptoms of fibromyalgia, so prioritizing sleep hygiene and relaxation is essential.

Try establishing a regualr sleep pattern by going to bed at the same time every night, a warm bath with added epsom salts and some essential oil of lavender, a cup of chamomile, valerian or passionflower tea before bed. Avoid  stimulating activities such as watching violents on TV, computer games and foods that are too spicy and ofcourse caffeine containing beverages.


Being in constant pain, often misunderstood, may lead to a higher susceptibility to stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga and Tai chi incorporate deep breathing, slow movement, and physical exercise. The combination of these factors may help to promote relaxation, relieve pain, help with sleep and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Herbal medicine can help with sleep, stress and anxiety. Look for Chamomile, Passionflower, Scullcap, Kava, Valerian and St Johns Wort for extra support.


With fibromyalgia, it can be difficult to maintain an exercise regime due to pain and fatigue. Exercise is not only good for keeping healthy and fit, but may help to manage the pain, stress and fatigue. Aim for 30 minutes of gentle exercise everyday.

Massage Therapy

Massage can help with relaxation, reduce stiffness, increase the range of motion and promote the release of natural pain relieving chemicals. 

Gentle massage is often best due to the hyper sensitivity of muscle fibres.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese Medicine that employs the use of specialized needles to stimulate various points throughout the body. Acupuncture may help to relieve fibromyalgia pain by changing blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord.

Supplements that may help

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, or simply CoQ10, is a potent antioxidant that naturally occurs in the body. It fucntions to convert the food we eat into a form of energy known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). People with fibromyalgia have been found to be deficient of this substance. Deficiency has also been linked to various neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

CoQ10 has been shown to improve hyperalgesia, depression, fatigue and exercise intolerance; common features of fibromyalgia.


Turmeric has been used for centuries in some traditional medicine to relieve pain associated with arthritis and other common conditions. The spice is known to help fight inflammation and has an analgesic effect in the body.


Magnesium is a mineral that is vital to the body. It facilitates the effective function of the muscular and nervous systems. It is thought that a deficiency in the mineral may lead to muscle pain, stiffness, and cramping. Ideally, magnesium should be sourced from foods such as leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains. However, 300 milligrams of the mineral daily may be a much more realistic alternative in order to relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia, including tender spots and depression.

Alpha lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic acid, or ALA, is a chemical that mimics the structure and action of a vitamin. It is a potent antioxidant that reduces or eliminates free radicals that can cause cell damage. This is especially relevant as studies have suggested that fibromyalgia is actually the result of cell damage caused by free radicals.

ALA works as an antioxidant for both fat and water component of cells in the body and increases the production of glutathione; the most powerful antioxidant in the body. It is able to cross the blood brain barrier, enabling it to protect the brain from damage, crucial in maintaining and preserving the nervous pathways that control the nociception for pain perception. Supplementing with this beneficial antioxidan may help to restore the body’s antioxidant stores.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered the good fats and are beneficial for numerous conditions.

This includes brain function and development, reducing inflammation anywhere in the body, reducing back and neuropathic pain, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

They are excellent choice for the treatment and management of fibromyalgia to reduce oxidative stress, and to help with pain and inflammation.


A good quality daily multivitamin that contains adequate amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E and B, may help to replenish any deficiencies. The quality of the foods that are consumed today may be compromised of essential nutrients, which makes it important to supplement.


Probiotics will often help with any digestive system symptoms such as irritable bowel, bloating and constipation. Addressing gut dysbiosis for any health condition is always a priortity for any naturopathic healing.

Probiotic foods include goats yoghurt, tempeh, kefir, kimchi, saurkraut, pickles, kombucha tea, miso soup and even dark chocolate.

Herbal Medicine

Pain relieving herbs such as boswellia, white willow bark and turmeric may help with pain symptoms. St johns wort may help with nerve fibre irritation.

It is important to consult a doctor or a medical professional if you suspect you may have fibromyalgia symptoms. Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if on any medication.


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Clauw DJ, et al. The science of fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86:907.

Arnold LM, et al. A framework for fibromyalgia management for primary care providers. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2012;87:488.

Goldenberg DL. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of fibromyalgia in adults. Accessed Aug. 19, 2013.

AskMayoExpert. Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.

Vincent A, et al. Prevalence of fibromyalgia: A population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota, utilizing the Rochester Epidemiology Project. Arthritis Care & Research. 2013;65:786.

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