Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia - alternatives to medications?

Posted by Kelly, Alumna Mentor @kdubois, Jun 23, 2017

I’m wondering what methods other than medications fellow people here on Connect have used to relieve chronic body pain and pain from fibromyalgia.

As background, I cannot take most medications because I don’t properly-metabolize them due to genetic polymorphisms; this includes all pain medications and medications used to treat fibromyalgia.

Therefore, some of my doctors have suggested the following. (Not all are possible for me though):
• Yoga
• Water exercises in swimming pool – my pharmacists and I are researching to see if I can tolerate chlorine and bromine.
• Hot tub
• Therapeutic massage
• Acupuncture – I started this in January and it has helped with the pain, but I feel as if I have plateaued. Luckily, my lady gives me a rate deduction because my insurance plan doesn’t cover it.
• Tai Chi
• Walking in 30 minute intervals for at least 150 minutes each week.
• Balanced diet avoiding preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, and organically but eat from the local farmers market before buying organic at the grocery store

Any advice on what you have tried and your feedback is greatly appreciated!

@sandytoes14

@kdubois Kelly,
The treatments you mention are now popular in healthcare as alternative but they are also complementary to medicine. It’s good for folks like you who have genetic reasons which impede the benefit of medicine. And it’s good for folks like me who want to limit the amount of medicine they take, Over the years I have done Massage, Acupuncture, water therapy, and dietary changes. I cannot twist and turn and balance with traditional Yoga so I try to remember Chair Yoga on YouTube .Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

-Water therapy is easy on the body but you need a timer to start slow. I can’t tolerate cold water.
-Acupuncture helped me the most when I had no pain medicine (for neck pain) but did little for fibro. I like massage the best for fibro. My therapist can modify the pressure from one area of the body to the next.
– As far as dietary changes, I felt no difference physically in eating organic as far as fibro pain.

Over the years, I have not been able to walk as far or as fast as I could. Seven years ago, I was hiking to waterfalls and trails all over Oahu, Hawaii. Yes there was pain, but not like now. Today, I need to rely on how I feel before making a trip to the grocery store.
Doctors say fibromyalgia is not a progressive syndrome but I challenge that thinking.

Kelly, one thing you do not mention and I wonder if you have tried bio-feedback?

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@kdubois When I contact a new masseuse II ask if they are certified and if they are experienced with fibromyalgia or physical therapy. The web site http://www.NCBTMB.com can help you locate a certified therapist by zip code.

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@sandytoes14

@kdubois Kelly,
The treatments you mention are now popular in healthcare as alternative but they are also complementary to medicine. It’s good for folks like you who have genetic reasons which impede the benefit of medicine. And it’s good for folks like me who want to limit the amount of medicine they take, Over the years I have done Massage, Acupuncture, water therapy, and dietary changes. I cannot twist and turn and balance with traditional Yoga so I try to remember Chair Yoga on YouTube .Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

-Water therapy is easy on the body but you need a timer to start slow. I can’t tolerate cold water.
-Acupuncture helped me the most when I had no pain medicine (for neck pain) but did little for fibro. I like massage the best for fibro. My therapist can modify the pressure from one area of the body to the next.
– As far as dietary changes, I felt no difference physically in eating organic as far as fibro pain.

Over the years, I have not been able to walk as far or as fast as I could. Seven years ago, I was hiking to waterfalls and trails all over Oahu, Hawaii. Yes there was pain, but not like now. Today, I need to rely on how I feel before making a trip to the grocery store.
Doctors say fibromyalgia is not a progressive syndrome but I challenge that thinking.

Kelly, one thing you do not mention and I wonder if you have tried bio-feedback?

Jump to this post

Thanks for the link. I found 3 in my area. I was a physiotherapist, so hope I won’t be too hard to deal with!

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@colleenyoung

@irene5 @lorinusbaum @jenapower @kdubois

Earlier today you were corresponding with a newcomer to Connect. Investigation revealed that @rpoucher has a commercial affiliation with the product she claims to be using for various pain and heart health issues. Posting solicitations or advertisements of any kind violates Mayo Clinic Connect’s Terms of Use https://connect.mayoclinic.org/terms-of-use/. Furthermore, these products have not been FDA approved.

For this reason, this user has been removed from the community and her posts deleted.

When considering complementary or alternative treatments, be open-minded yet skeptical. Learn about the potential benefits and risks. Here is an article from Mayo Clinic on evaluating claims made by the producers and/or sellers of supplements, natural products and other alternative medicines. http://mayocl.in/2tGC0Jp

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Colleen Young
Community Director, Mayo Clinic Connect

All information shared by members on the Mayo Clinic Connect, such as messages, images, advice, URLs, and any other material, is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the community.

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@irene5, I believe I am the lady you were referring to 🙂 I have not yet gone into the pain discussion too far with my oncologist yet, because we are struggling to get my system to adjust to the daily targeted therapy I am on for my cancer. I have been taking Cymbalta and Trazadone for years for fibro, but the added stress on my nerves no longer seem to accept them as acceptable options. It was suggested in the cancer group I also belong to that I should talk to a cancer pain specialist, so that is on my list.

Thank you for your kind thoughts!

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@colleenyoung

@irene5 @lorinusbaum @jenapower @kdubois

Earlier today you were corresponding with a newcomer to Connect. Investigation revealed that @rpoucher has a commercial affiliation with the product she claims to be using for various pain and heart health issues. Posting solicitations or advertisements of any kind violates Mayo Clinic Connect’s Terms of Use https://connect.mayoclinic.org/terms-of-use/. Furthermore, these products have not been FDA approved.

For this reason, this user has been removed from the community and her posts deleted.

When considering complementary or alternative treatments, be open-minded yet skeptical. Learn about the potential benefits and risks. Here is an article from Mayo Clinic on evaluating claims made by the producers and/or sellers of supplements, natural products and other alternative medicines. http://mayocl.in/2tGC0Jp

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Colleen Young
Community Director, Mayo Clinic Connect

All information shared by members on the Mayo Clinic Connect, such as messages, images, advice, URLs, and any other material, is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the community.

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No problem. In 2017 no human being or animal should have to suffer with pain due to cancer. I have lost everyone in my family (parents and all except for my husband and children) due to cancer – Been there with each of them. My mom had a morphine patch which worked pretty well for her. She was also very stoic! You take care of yourself! 

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@colleenyoung

Great conversation to kick-off, @kdubois! I’m tagging other members who live with fibromyalgia to join the discussion @clownscrytoo @wandamiller @sandytoes14 @jenapower @robbinr @chari978 @irene5 @mchel46 @kayelle @bstephens @basslakeview @2122 @angieh @persist @jamesthee @michiganstressedlady @hmr52 @lucia: what non-drug therapies or activities help you relieve the symptoms and pain of fibro?

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Please add me to your email list. Thanks

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@colleenyoung

Great conversation to kick-off, @kdubois! I’m tagging other members who live with fibromyalgia to join the discussion @clownscrytoo @wandamiller @sandytoes14 @jenapower @robbinr @chari978 @irene5 @mchel46 @kayelle @bstephens @basslakeview @2122 @angieh @persist @jamesthee @michiganstressedlady @hmr52 @lucia: what non-drug therapies or activities help you relieve the symptoms and pain of fibro?

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Jen

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@jenapower

Hey this is Jennifer, I thought I posted already and it seems my post is not there. I’m losing my marbles too, ha ha. I just decided recently I’m not taking any more opiate pain medicine. I it got it out of my system completely. It’s surprising that now that I am not taking opiates at all, I don’t have as much pain as I did before. I’ve heard this happens but I’ve never really experienced it. I have started massage therapy which is very helpful, and plan to start either Mindfulness my meditation type therapy, acupuncture and try some of that herbal things, I also rely on lidocaine patches which work well for me. I know people were talking this morning about 2 nonnarcotic pain medicine coming out, and supplements, but no one was very specific about what it was. Could somebody post what supplements they get relief with besides Turmerk, started. It’s supposed to help with inflammation. I don’t want to go back on any kind of opiates because they were just causing me so many problems, as someone mentioned takes away your joy for life. I also tended to isolate myself from my friends because I felt like I was a burden and I’m stopping that. I found that my friends are willing to come to my house because they missed me. I really am trying to push through and do my exercises and walking. Trying right frame of mind, I don’t want to continue feeling sorry for myself, which I was doing. Anyway, if anybody could post names of items that they use that would really be helpful. Happy Fourth of July to everybody, have a wonderful weekend. Thank you Jennifer

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Pain meds do not affect my fibromyalgia symptoms either!
Just purchased an antigravity lounger- wow does it feel good.
The feeling of aching/pressure of on joints & muscles is alleviated.
Has anyone else tried one?

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I came down with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome about 20 years ago. They came about as the result of undiagnosed and untreated Lyme disease. Anyway, I tried just about everything to alleviate the pain. I’m really not sure what worked, but the pain began to retreat, and now I really only get pain–in my legs–in the winter. The CFS is, alas, still very much in evidence.

Have you tried a TENS unit? I purchased one for my TMJ pain, which is much more painful than is my fibro nowadays. I haven’t tried it yet. It may be too strong to put on my face, so I’m going to try it out on my arm first. It only cost about $30, so if it doesn’t work, or is way too strong for my face, I haven’t lost much. And if it’s too strong, I’d be more than happy to send it to anybody who could use it. My TMJ is hurting today, but in an area that a TENS unit can’t reach: it’s in front of my bottom teeth. So, I’ll just have to wait until the TMJ pain shifts around to a more reachable place.

I highly recommend acupuncture. When I had Bell’s palsy (which, years later, my doc and I realized was a symptom of Lyme disease, but docs 20 years ago had no idea), 3/4 of my face was paralyzed for close to a year. I went to an MD acupuncturist, and after just one session, my right eyebrow, which had been almost down in my eye, started rising up to its normal place! I was thrilled! I didn’t need that many treatments. Eventually, the acupuncturist said he felt he couldn’t do any more. So, my eyes still don’t blink at the same time, and I can only smile with half my mouth. But compared to such complete paralysis, it’s a vast improvement.

If you can find a licensed massage therapist who specializes in fibro, I would also give that a try. I’ve had massages for other painful conditions, and they have helped immensely. And the results have lasted for quite a few days. I’ve just about fallen asleep on the table. If there’s a massage therapy school near you, the students often need people to practice on–under teacher supervision, of course. Call up and find out if you can get an appointment.

My doc, too, had had me change my diet radically. I tried that for quite a few months and felt no relief.

Probably the best thing I ever did was get a senior rescue dog from the animal shelter, Sadie. We took daily walks, and she moved briskly. Having to go out for walks with her 5 to 7 times a week (my husband sometimes walked her on weekends) did wonders for me, both in terms of pain and psychologically. And she was my best buddy in the world. We walked for 30 to 45 minutes each time we went out. We met neighbors I’d never met before. We explored the woods. Really, she improved my life vastly. Sadie is no longer alive, and I miss and am deeply thankful to her. Since then, I’ve adopted Eddie, then Joe, and then Sidney, all of whom were seniors from animal shelters or animal rescues. They don’t walk so fast that you can’t keep up, but they definitely move on out and get you going. They give you a reason to get out of bed. Sidney, our present dog, is a 60-pound lab/hound mix who, our vets guesstimate, is somewhere between 16 and 18 years old. She’s been with us for 5 years. She’s slowed down a lot due to arthritis, for which she gets medication, but she frequently gets what we call “the gallops” and just takes off. (We only do leash walks.) She was trotting vigorously this morning. She is such a joy and such a tough old girl, and a smart one at that. If you can have a dog, I would so highly recommend one. A pup would be too exhausting to deal with, I think. But a senior knows the rules of the road, as it were, and is so thankful to be adopted. You will be loved unconditionally, and that means so much.

I hate taking pain meds (I’ve been prescribed Tylenol + codeine and Flexeril, a muscle relaxer for the TMJ pain). They help, but they leave me feeling very befogged. That makes it difficult to work, and I really need to concentrate on my work. Florida now has legal medical marijuana, and I went to consult with one of the physician providers yesterday. As luck would have it, he’s a doctor AND a dentist, so he’s well aware of TMJ pain. And he now works as a hospice physician, so he’s a marvelously compassionate soul. He approved me for MM and thinks it will help me immensely with pain, muscle spasms, and anxiety (from which I also suffer, along with clinical depression). It takes 6 to 8 weeks (!) to get all the paperwork approved so that one can finally purchase MM. He leans toward the sublingual application of MM. He also recommends vape-ing, which will bring on relief in a much shorter time. While sublingual drops start to work in 15 minutes, vape-ing will start to work within a minute or so. So, it just depends on how much pain you’re in. I’m eager to try MM, and I hope it’ll help. That might be something you’d like to think about.

Anyway, I so hope you get some relief from the fibro pain! I remember the worst of it well: if I could get from my bed to the couch and lie there all day, I felt fortunate. When I could walk down my driveway and cross the street to my rural mailbox, I really felt that I’d accomplished so much. When every square centimeter of my body didn’t hurt, and when clothes against my skin didn’t hurt, I felt terrific. Take good care of yourself, and please let us know how you’re doing.

Hazel (@hazelblumberg)

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@sandytoes14

@kdubois Kelly,
The treatments you mention are now popular in healthcare as alternative but they are also complementary to medicine. It’s good for folks like you who have genetic reasons which impede the benefit of medicine. And it’s good for folks like me who want to limit the amount of medicine they take, Over the years I have done Massage, Acupuncture, water therapy, and dietary changes. I cannot twist and turn and balance with traditional Yoga so I try to remember Chair Yoga on YouTube .Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

-Water therapy is easy on the body but you need a timer to start slow. I can’t tolerate cold water.
-Acupuncture helped me the most when I had no pain medicine (for neck pain) but did little for fibro. I like massage the best for fibro. My therapist can modify the pressure from one area of the body to the next.
– As far as dietary changes, I felt no difference physically in eating organic as far as fibro pain.

Over the years, I have not been able to walk as far or as fast as I could. Seven years ago, I was hiking to waterfalls and trails all over Oahu, Hawaii. Yes there was pain, but not like now. Today, I need to rely on how I feel before making a trip to the grocery store.
Doctors say fibromyalgia is not a progressive syndrome but I challenge that thinking.

Kelly, one thing you do not mention and I wonder if you have tried bio-feedback?

Jump to this post

How does one do bio feed back? Is it expensive?

REPLY
@sandytoes14

@kdubois Kelly,
The treatments you mention are now popular in healthcare as alternative but they are also complementary to medicine. It’s good for folks like you who have genetic reasons which impede the benefit of medicine. And it’s good for folks like me who want to limit the amount of medicine they take, Over the years I have done Massage, Acupuncture, water therapy, and dietary changes. I cannot twist and turn and balance with traditional Yoga so I try to remember Chair Yoga on YouTube .Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

-Water therapy is easy on the body but you need a timer to start slow. I can’t tolerate cold water.
-Acupuncture helped me the most when I had no pain medicine (for neck pain) but did little for fibro. I like massage the best for fibro. My therapist can modify the pressure from one area of the body to the next.
– As far as dietary changes, I felt no difference physically in eating organic as far as fibro pain.

Over the years, I have not been able to walk as far or as fast as I could. Seven years ago, I was hiking to waterfalls and trails all over Oahu, Hawaii. Yes there was pain, but not like now. Today, I need to rely on how I feel before making a trip to the grocery store.
Doctors say fibromyalgia is not a progressive syndrome but I challenge that thinking.

Kelly, one thing you do not mention and I wonder if you have tried bio-feedback?

Jump to this post

Hi, Yes bio-feedback is usually expensive. And it is hard to find a legitimate provider. Lots of snake-oil out there.

Robbin

 

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I would like to know some of the ways to manage debilitating pain from fibromyalgia. I am currently using Percocet, but find little relief. I tried the Butrans patch but it caused voracious sweats. Please discuss other ways of controlling the pain.

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@m_rod

I would like to know some of the ways to manage debilitating pain from fibromyalgia. I am currently using Percocet, but find little relief. I tried the Butrans patch but it caused voracious sweats. Please discuss other ways of controlling the pain.

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Hi M_Rod, welcome to Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to the Chronic Pain group, and in particular to the discussion called "Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia – alternatives to medications?"
Click VIEW & REPLY in the email notification and you can read through the discussion and meet other members dealing with fibromyalgia.

Here are are few more discussions in Chronic Pain group that may interest you:
– fibromyalgia pain https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/fibromyalgia-pain-28e002/
– Drug Help for Fibromyalgia and Related Disorders https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/drug-help-for-fibromyalgia-and-related-disorders/
– Mayo Clinic's Fibromyalgia Clinic https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinics-fibromyalgia-clinic/

We look forward to getting to know you. What helps distract you from the pain?

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Hi sorry for all your suffering with Fibromyalgia we all know how you feel ,same with us.All the prescribed meds for me don't work and have side effects so I relief on magnesium one site I like is New look fibromyalgia research says we are more depleted in magnesium so I take 600 mg.,my labs for mag.are just right ,not showers,water aerobics in warm water ,Tramadol I take at night to relax my muscles.Hope some of this will help you.Good luck @Kdubios

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Just found Epsom Salts Body Wash Dr.Teals at Wal-Mart for us who use it for pain relief

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