An introduction to pain and fibromyalgia
The primary symptom which fibromyalgia sufferers experience is pain. Many people describe this as a deep throbbing pain throughout the body which affects their ability to carry on with day-to-day tasks. Doctors have identified 18 trigger points throughout the body, characteristic of fibromyalgia which can help to diagnose the condition.
The pain experienced with fibromyalgia is thought to make other symptoms, such as fatigue, fibro-fog and anxiety worse. For this reason, finding mechanisms to deal with the pain will often help to improve your lifestyle in general.
Why does fibromyalgia cause pain?
The condition of fibromyalgia is not fully understood and for this reason, much research is ongoing to try to find the causes of the symptoms.
Thus far, however, it is thought that the pain receptors in people suffering fibromyalgia are more sensitive than normal, so that the pain they experience is far out of proportion to what it should be.
Some have speculated that fibromyalgia is caused by a lowered level of the chemical serotonin, in turn lowering our pain threshold and mood. This would also explain why many fibromyalgia sufferers also experience anxiety and mood swings.
The spinal cord acts as a pain filter, telling the body that a gentle touch should not hurt but hitting your head off a brick wall most definitely does. In fibromyalgia patients, it is thought that this filter does not work effectively, so that different degrees of pain are not felt. Every touch, therefore, can be excruciating.
What home remedies are there for pain?
Home remedies may not tackle the root of your pain, but they can go a long way in making you feel more comfortable.
The relation between sleep and pain has been well researched and it has been established that poor quality sleep lowers our tolerance of pain. Fibromyalgia patients often suffer from sleep problems, and this could contribute to the pain experiences. Trying to establish a good sleep routine, and trying not to nap too much during the day, may help to improve your pain tolerance.
Ensuring you are eating a healthy diet is also important. Your body gains its energy and repair function from what you eat, so you need to ensure you are giving it enough important nutrients. Eating a poor diet consisting of high quantities of refined sugar and caffeine will mean that your muscles will fatigue more quickly, but also be unable to recover and repair effectively. This will make you more prone to pain as your muscles will be weakened.
Take a little time to relax in a warm bath. The warm water can soothe aches and pain and relax tense muscles. Not only this, but it has a tranquilising effect on the mind, helping you to find a more positive approach to pain management.
Although it may seem off-putting, taking daily exercise is important, even if it is just a short walk to post a letter. It helps to stretch your muscles and reduce cramping. Swimming, Tai Chi and yoga are also good exercise, as they work all of your muscles at a low impact. They may also improve symptoms of stiffness.
Are there herbal remedies to help me?
Devil’s Claw is a herb native to the Southern parts of Africa which has traditional use in the reduction of joint pain. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and pain-killing properties. This herb can be taken internally, such as with A.Vogel’s licensed herbal remedy Atrosan® Devil’s Claw tablets.
Arnica is another herb which has a traditional use in reducing joint pain. This herb can be applied externally to the affected joint, in the form of gel, such as Atrogel® arnica gel.
If you feel that your pain is worsened by poor sleep, and that following home remedies for sleep have not helped, then taking a herbal sleeping remedy may help. For example Valerian is herb with a tranquilising action. Fresh extracts can be found in the licensed herbal remedy Dormeasan® Sleep.
What about conventional medicines?
If you are unable to find relief from your pain through home and herbal remedies, it may be worth discussing your symptoms with your doctor.
Your doctor will be able to prescribe painkillers for fibromyalgia, the most common being Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella. However, before taking these drugs you should discuss the possibility of associated side-effects.