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Fibromyalgia - Other Treatment

Complementary and alternative therapy

Most people with fibromyalgia try some type of alternative therapy.4 They may relieve stress, ease muscle tension, and help you feel better and healthier. Some of these therapies have been shown to be effective for many people. But for other therapies, such as tender point injections, there is no evidence that they help.

Therapies that have been shown to be effective for many people include the following:

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  • Biofeedback has been shown to help people who have fibromyalgia.2
  • A small study found that tai chi may help people who have fibromyalgia. In this study, people who took part in a tai chi class felt better. They had less pain, slept better, and were able to exercise more and be more active.5

Other treatments that have been used to treat fibromyalgia include:

What to think about

You may find one or more complementary or alternative therapies to be helpful in relieving some of your symptoms. Keep in mind that there is only limited information about how well these treatments (and others you may have heard about) work for treating fibromyalgia.

If you have fibromyalgia and are thinking about trying a complementary therapy, get the facts before you begin. Consider these questions with your doctor:

  • Is it safe? Talk with your doctor about the safety and potential side effects of the treatment. Remember that fibromyalgia doesn't physically harm you or damage your body. A treatment that could be harmful may not be worth the risk, especially when its benefits are unproven. Avoid treatments that may be harmful, such as unusual diets or excessive vitamin or mineral supplements. (A daily multiple vitamin-mineral supplement is okay. Try to avoid taking more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance for any vitamin or mineral unless your doctor prescribes a special supplement.)
  • Does it work? Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia can come and go, you may find it hard to judge whether a certain treatment is really working. Symptoms of fibromyalgia often improve on their own. Or the treatment may be causing a placebo effect that is making you feel better. Keep in mind that when you get better after treatment, the treatment may not be the reason for the improvement. Also remember that a treatment that works for one person may not work for you. It may take time. And you may have to try several different treatments to find an approach that works for you.
  • Will it improve my general health? Even if complementary therapies aren't effective in treating fibromyalgia, many of them are safe, healthy habits that may improve your general well-being and may be worth trying.

With a hard-to-treat condition like fibromyalgia, it can be tempting to jump at the promise of an effective treatment. Be careful. Avoid products that claim to have a secret ingredient or that claim to cure fibromyalgia. Avoid those that encourage unhelpful behaviors such as excessive resting or avoiding activity.

Also make sure you know how much a treatment is going to cost before you agree to it. An expensive, unproven treatment that may or may not help you may not be worth the high cost. Beware of treatment providers or products that require a large financial investment at the start or a series of costly treatments.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 20, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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