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Fibromyalgia and Alternative Treatments

(continued)

How does biofeedback work to ease fibromyalgia? continued...

With biofeedback, you are connected to a machine that informs you and your therapist when you are physically relaxing your body. Sensors detect muscle tension, heart rate, breathing pattern, the amount of sweat produced, or body temperature. Any one or all of these can let the trained biofeedback therapist know if you are learning to relax.

The instruments magnify signals that you might not otherwise notice. As a result, you can use this visual or auditory response to learn how to control certain bodily functions. The ultimate goal of biofeedback is to use this skill outside the therapist's office when you are facing real stressors.

With fibromyalgia pain, you know the "real stressor" is the pain itself. Nevertheless, other daily stressors can cause your fibromyalgia to flare. What you want to do is respond in a healthy way to the chronic stressors. If learned properly, electronic biofeedback can help you control your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, and muscle tension, potentially reducing pain. In several recent studies, biofeedback has been shown to help decrease tender point sensitivity and to improve functioning of patients with fibromyalgia.

Can herbal medicine help fibromyalgia?

Herbal remedies have been used for generations. They can be put in tea or soup or taken in other forms. While some herbal therapies have not been shown to have a specific benefit for fibromyalgia symptoms, some patients have found improved sleep or more energy with herbal supplements. Studies to prove safety and effectiveness in treating fibromyalgia have been mixed.

How can meditation help fibromyalgia?

With meditation, you allow your thoughts to take a break from daily analytical routines and give support to the spiritual dimension of life. When you meditate, your body switches from the pumping "fight or flight" response to a calmer, more peaceful mood. Studies show that meditation produces brain waves consistent with serenity and happiness. Meditation provides nourishment for your soul, satiates inner spiritual hunger, and helps you to develop your ability to pay attention to all areas of life without distraction.

What should I remember if I want to try an alternative treatment?

It's important to be openly discriminating when choosing alternative treatments. The fact that something is called "natural" does not mean it is safe. Working with your doctor, look for the alternative or complementary treatments that will best boost sleep and decrease pain. The right treatment can help get you on the healthy road again.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 09, 2012
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