Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Six – Pain Management for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Welcome to part six of the Fibromyalgia Framework series! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in You vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

The fibromyalgia framework series has been presenting my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research.

fibromyalgia framework part seven pain management

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We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep
Central Nervous System

PAIN MANAGEMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA/CHRONIC PAIN

We could spend a long time going through pain management options in depth, but that is outside the scope of this series. I will give you a brief introduction to the multiple options and give you extra reading you can follow up on. As you will recall from my fibromyalgia puzzle, low dose naltrexone and physiotherapy are key pain management options for me. Yours might be entirely different.

LIFESTYLE FOCUSED PAIN MANAGEMENT

  • Sleep
  • Gentle movement
  • Rest
  • Seeing food as fuel
  • Observing your work/life balance

SPECIFIC FOR PAIN – WHAT I DO:

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  • Heat pack. This is my first line of defense, I use it on my neck first thing, whenever I can during the day, in the evening and at bedtime.
  • Essential oils – lavender is my all time favourite for sleep, pain and relaxation.
  • Deep Heat, a non-medicated heat producing rub that eases muscle pain, especially when combined with a good massage.
  • Biofreeze – a cooling pain reliever, especially good for during warmer weather.
  • A hot bath is my best treat and the first thing I want when the pain increases.
  • I see the physiotherapist every three weeks and they do neck tractions and place acupuncture needles in trigger points in my neck and shoulders. This is the only thing that keeps the neck free and keeps the severe headaches, dizziness and nausea that accompanies the severe neck pain away.
  • A Theracane trigger point massager for self-trigger point release. You can use your fingers, but mine get too sore for this now, you do have to push rather hard.
  • Magnesium oil on my back and shoulders at bedtime.
  • Low dose naltrexone. Over a period of 12 months, it has decreased my neck pain levels more than anything ever has. It is not a miracle drug – if I don’t take it, the fatigue skyrockets, and if I overdo it, my neck pain increases. It is not a standalone treatment. But I am super thankful for it!
  • It helps me get to sleep where nothing else has ever worked. I do have to combine it with a heap of sleep hygiene routines, but it’s the base of the plan. In addition to helping me sleep (and thereby, reducing pain), it reduced the wider spread pain and near constant headaches.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) for muscle and joint pain. It helps with the pain in my index fingers as well as a little difference in my neck.
  • Slow release, high dose ibuprofen for period pain, for about four days – it’s pretty severe.
  • Ibuprofen or paracetamol (Acetaminophen) for headaches or low level pain that breaks through.
  • A muscle relaxant for spasms in the neck or back – the frequency of these has decreased since I began LDN.

OTHER PAIN RELIEF OPTIONS:

  • TENS machine
  • Foam roller
  • Essential oils
    • Lavender
    • Chamomile
    • Peppermint
  • Herbs
    • Thyme
    • Devil’s Claw
    • Jamaican Dogwood
    • Cayenne
    • White Willow Bark
    • Corydalis
  • Supplements
  • CBD oil

For medicinal pain relief, please discuss these options with your doctor and do your own research. Do always check for interactions between herbs/supplements and medicines that you are on.

LOW DOSE NALTREXONE

I haven’t been quiet about the benefits of low dose naltrexone (LDN). Since beginning it in 2017 I have experienced the best improvement of any single thing I have ever tried. I believe it is all down to sleeping better. The offshoots of this have been many. I have decreased pain levels, increased stamina, decreased fatigue, dramatically improved quality of life.

Find my Low Dose Naltrexone One Year Experiment post here. It includes a full write up of how it is changing my life with some links to further information.

For an overview of LDN see this website.


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Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

I’m over these poisons that are marketed as the only thing to help those of us with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia. Some medicines are definitely necessary, I’m not anti medicine, I’m pro natural remedies for fibromyalgia first.

Yoga and meditation have been my mainstays for a long time. I’ve paid $60 a fortnight for physiotherapy for a long time because I’d rather skimp and take that than utilise the heavily subsidised medicine I’d have to take instead.

Why I'm Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

For the last few months I’ve been researching a lot of natural options including essential oils, herbs, supplements and other options. You will also notice that my book has more chapters about natural/non medicinal options as I am a big believe in things you can administer yourself whenever you need.

Here are some recent posts about natural remedies for fibromyalgia:
Essential Oils and a Pain Cream I’ve Been Loving
Natural Pain Relief Options – Herbs for Teas or Infusions
Natural Pain Relief Options – Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain 
Natural Pain Relief Options – Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy

Here’s a round up of the natural remedies for fibromyalgia I’ve been using

Free report: Essential Oils for Natural Health sign up here and find it in the free Resources page

Essential Oils for Fibromyalgia

Lavender – multi use for pain, relaxation, insomnia and more. I use it as is with coconut oil or in the bath.
Chamomile – calming and said to help with insomnia, I adore it.
Peppermint – this is handy with coconut oil for spasms.
Pain cream from Bunguin Babies– this has become my go-to for first-line pain. I use it at bedtime and throughout the day. This is not an affiliate link, I use it and love it and a fellow fibromyalgia mom blogger makes it herself.

Herbs for Fibromyalgia

I learnt about thyme, borage, lemon balm and others but since finding out I was pregnant I couldn’t use these. They are still on my radar!

Supplements for Fibromyalgia

Magnesium oil – I apply this nightly to my calves for the nutritional deficiency of magnesium that is prevalent these days and in pregnancy to avoid calf cramps.

MSM – this is my favourite for wrist and hand joint pain. It’s said to be good for other things too. See my post here.

CBD Oil – On my Wish List for the Future (as soon as it’s legalised here)

In New Zealand a committee is considering legalising CBD oil. They recently shot down the application to make medical marijuana available to those with chronic pain, which was disappointing. The research is positive. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. The side effects are negligible! See this post from Counting My Spoons about MMJ and CBD for more information. I would use it for sleep, pain and fatigue. If it worked, the combination of this and LDN would surely get me off the amitriptyline – and after more than ten years, that would be a massive win.

As you may have noticed, I don’t stop researching so more will need to be added to this list as time goes on. Though, my personal experiments are stalled while I am pregnant and then nursing. Look out for the pregnancy edition of this post coming soon.


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pain relief in pregnancy with fibromyalgia

Pain Relief in Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Pain relief is a big issue for those who live with chronic pain. It becomes an even bigger issue during pregnancy. For those of us whose symptoms worsen during pregnancy, it’s a minefield.

Author’s Note: This article appeared first on The Mighty

pain relief in pregnancy with fibromyalgia

My fifth tip for pregnancy with Fibromyalgia is to get a pain management plan in place – preferably prior to becoming pregnant.

There are some medicines that are categorically unsafe for pregnancy. There are a lot of medicines that they just don’t know enough about, performing experiments on pregnant women, particularly involving something that may harm a baby, would be unethical. So literature relies on data provided by pregnant women. This website Mother to Baby  provides fact sheets, access to professionals about medicine in pregnancy and more.

The first thing to do when considering pregnancy with a chronic pain-based illness would be to discuss plans for pregnancy with your doctor. With my first pregnancy, we didn’t talk to the doctor before conceiving, and then when we were discussing the only medicine I was on (amitriptyline) I nearly had a panic attack at the thought of going off it. My doctor called a specialist and they agreed that the benefits outweighed the potential risks – for me and my unique situation.

Sleep is a big battle for me, I enact a long list of sleep hygiene tactics every day; take a low dose of amitriptyline at 8pm, take a low dose of naltrexone (I only started this after I had my second baby, prior to this I would take pain medicine at this time) at 9pm, get into bed with my heat pack, do a body scan meditation, and if I’m lucky, fall asleep for a few hours at a time. A good night sees me fall asleep relatively quickly and only lose an hour to awake or restless times. It would appear that the second the pregnancy hormones enter my body, sleep runs away screaming. Pain also becomes a much bigger issue when I have to lie on my side (as you must once baby gets big enough to put pressure on an important vein when lying on your back).

More articles about pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia The First Trimester Diaries
Necessary Baby Items for a Fibro Parent
Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: The Delivery
Pumping or Expressing for Your Baby: Parenting (Fibromyalgia or Not)

You do not have to be miserable, there’s also research that suggests that under treated pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed anglepain can negatively affect the pregnancy.[1] So if your doctor refuses to help you with pain relief, get a second opinion. Do some research for yourself and present it to them. I provide what I did during pregnancy to be as well as possible in my book Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia.

Here are a few natural pain relief mechanisms that I enacted during my pregnancies:

·         Heat pack
·         Warm shower or bath
·         Essential oils such as lavender and peppermint (for external use only and with a carrier oil after the first trimester) – see my Resources page for my free report about Essential Oils for managing pain
·         Magnesium oil (I never got a calf cramp in my second pregnancy using this)
·         Gentle walks and stretching
·         Meditation – especially ones specifically for pain relief on pregnancy, there’s heaps on YouTube to search up
·         Massage – either for yourself, or from a partner, friend, or therapist
·         Rest and sleep as much as you can
·         Belly support belt – I had symphysis pubis disorder (my pelvis basically widened too far) and this really helped.

If you want to learn even more information about pain relief during pregnancy, then Pain Managementmicro coursecheck out my 15-page printable PDF Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Micro Course Workbook. It goes through the existing information about pain relief during pregnancy, my experiences, a list of natural pain relief options, a list of further reading, a template to make your own pain relief plan (pregnancy edition) with space for notes and the brand new Advanced Pain Relief sheet with links to research about medicine use in pregnancy. I have gathered the information and created these printables to make it easier for you to make the best decisions for yourself- it took me years to get it all together.

I always recommend remembering that pregnancy is finite, there is an end date and a beautiful baby as the pay off. I also was a bit smug in my second pregnancy because I knew that I am one of those very rare women who actually sleep better with a newborn baby than pregnant, the pain levels are just so high that sleep is almost non-existent in the final trimester. Last year, once I delivered my second baby, my bed that had previously felt as hard as a rock seemed luxuriously soft. So in those one, two or three hours that the baby was asleep – I slept like the dead, which is a very rare occurrence for me.

I really hope that this post helps you on your way to relieving some of the pain involved in pregnancy with a chronic illness.
[1] Malaika Babb, PharmD, Gideon Koren, MD FRCPC FACMT, and Adrienne Einarson, RN. Treating pain during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2010 Jan; 56(1): 25, 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809170/


For more information about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia:

This article is also available as a free PDF printable in my free Resources page.

Pregnancy andFibromyalgia_resources

 

 

Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy

With the world’s eye on those of us suffering from chronic pain, I feel like bad news is delivered daily into my inbox with newsletters or articles telling me I can’t access something that helps me manage. Opoids came under fire, now NSAIDS are ready for scrutiny. We know the medicines we need aren’t ideal but neither is chronic sleep deprivation or untreated pain. Seriously, there’s research!
To this end, I have decided to work through as many natural options as I can find to help you navigate potential new options for treatment.
The first post was for herbs you can infuse at home. The next was supplements for Fibromyalgia pain.
Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms supplements energy.png
This one is supplements for fibromyalgia energy. There is a seemingly endless list and I have done a lot of research on this area, but here I’ll present what I’ve tried with honest feedback.
There are some affiliate links here, I may make a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.

CoQ10

In this article from Fibro Daze about improving mitochondrial function, coq10 is mentioned: “Researchers who studied the link between mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and inflammation in fibromyalgia concluded that CoQ10 has a potential therapeutic role in the condition. In one study, supplementation with 300 mg of coenzyme Q10 a day was found to be associated with clinical improvements, including a significant reduction in pain, fatigue, and morning tiredness.”
I tried this a few years ago and wasn’t impressed, however I would like to try this again now that I have a few more of my jigsaw puzzle pieces in place. I’ll update you.
For my free report Essential Oils for Natural Pain Relief sign up here.

D-ribose

This is a favourite of Dr Teitelbaum for energy, and a lot of people swear by it. Katarina from Skillfully Well sums up the case for D ribose well, “Mitochondria produce the energy, called ATP, used by your cells to carry out all their functions. D-ribose is essential to the production of ATP. Therefore, taking additional D-ribose should help to support mitochondrial function and improve energy output in fatigued patients.”
Personally, I derived no energy from it. Here’s my post about going on and off again to see if it would make a difference for me.
I suspect the mitochondrial support supplements don’t help me due to my fatigue potentially more effected by sleep (or the lack of). Though it isn’t the full picture.

Adrenal Support Herbs

It is not yet clear if adrenal fatigue causes Fibromyalgia, Fibromyalgia causes adrenal fatigue or they are completely separate. Though the body is a whole and I can see what effects so many systems (Fibromyalgia) could affect the adrenals, especially while the fight or flight response remains on overdrive.
I tried a generic adrenal support formula recently and didn’t feel any obvious effects from it. Ashwagandha (a common ingredient in these formulas) is meant to be supportive for those with energy troubles, “Ashwagandha, is an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine that has shown incredible results for lowering cortisol and balancing thyroid hormones.”
Like a lot of things, it appears to be worth a try and I am glad to have ticked it off my list.

Acetyl L-Carnitine 

A study found, “Although this experience deserves further studies, these results indicate that LAC may be of benefit in patients with FMS, providing improvement in pain as well as the general and mental health of these patients.”
Unfortunately I found a tub and only managed four doses before I realised it was really upsetting my tummy.

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Graphic Printable Pain Relief with Templates

 To take the learning further I created a printable, based upon the chapter in my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia and include templates for you to make your own plan: My Pain Relief Plan, My Medicine Plan and My Flare Relief Plan.

Some of my links are affiliate links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain

With the world’s eye on those of us suffering from chronic pain, I feel like bad news is delivered daily into my inbox with newsletters or articles telling me I can’t access something that helps me manage. Narcotics came under fire, now NSAIDS are ready for scrutiny. We know the medicines we need aren’t ideal but neither is chronic sleep deprivation or untreated pain. Seriously, there’s research!
To this end, I have decided to work through as many natural options as I can find to help you navigate potential new options for treatment.
The last post was for herbs you can infuse at home.

 

This one is supplements for fibromyalgia pain. There is a seemingly endless list and I have done a lot of research on this area, but here I’ll present what I’ve tried with honest feedback.
Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms supplements pain.png
There are some affiliate links here, I may make a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you. 

Curamin/Curcumin with bonus herbs

Curamin “is a blend of all natural ingredients such as DLPA, boswellia and nattokinase which are proven anti-inflammatory compounds. DLPA boosts the effectiveness of endorphins and enkephalins (pain relievers already in the body), nattokinase boosts circulation and alleviates muscle pain by balancing fibrogren levels in the body while boswellia has been known to remove pro-inflammatory compounds.”
Curcumin (with black pepper for absorbtion) is said to be a powerful pain reliever alone: “Together, curcumin and boswellia both found in Curamin reduce the activity of the two most significant pain pathways in the body – COX-2 and 5-LOX.”
I first tried Curamin a few years ago and was so relieved at the difference it made in my neck. This was before LDN so nothing had helped at that point. The effects did seem to wear off, so it will be rotated back in when I have finished my current round of experiments.

MSM 

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur-containing compound that is meant to help with pain in the tendons, ligaments and muscles.
Dr Axe outlines six benefits of taking MSM, including joint pain, digestive problems and muscle pain and spasms (a biggie for me): “Research suggests that MSM can act like a natural analgesic, helping prevent and treat muscle aches and pains, throbbing and swelling while improving range of motion and mobility.”
This is a supplement I take regularly. It helps with muscle, tendon and ligament pain as well as a wealth of other potential benefits.
For my free report Essential Oils for Natural Health and other free reports click here.

Magnesium 

Almost all literature will point those with chronic pain toward magnesium. “Magnesium supplementation is critical to the treatment of fibromyalgia. One study showed that 300 to 600mg of magnesium malate per day had very positive results in decreasing the number and severity of tender points in fibromyalgia. Malic acid (derived from apples) by itself is also helpful in fibromyalgia.” This is from Dr DeMarco.com
I have taken magnesium in some form for a long time. Currently, I use it in oil form and apply it at bedtime. During my second pregnancy I applied it to my calves every night and was never woken with excruciating calf craps like in the first pregnancy.

Fibromalic/Malic Acid

This one caught my eye due to the combination of ingredients. Malic acid is said to be helpful for Fibromyalgia, as alluded to in the quote above. This product includes: Malic acid 400mg, Devil’s Claw 100mg, Boswellia 50mg, Vitamin C 5mg, Vitamin B6 2.5mg, Chromium 25mcg, Magnesium 50mg. It would appear this specific formulation is not available on Amazon, that link is to the brand Radiance which we can get here in New Zealand. But any magnesium and malic acid blend could suit.
This list is just a start as I could go on researching for a long time! Part of this information is taken from the Pain Management module from You vs Fibromyalgia course.

Special note for those who want to kick their fight against Fibromyalgia up a notch:

My eCourse You vs Fibromyalgia is seven modules to help you navigate what You vs Fibro full ecourseFibromyalgia is, pain relief, sleep, meditation, yoga, pacing and boundaries and brain fog to help you in your fight. Enrollments opens 1st March 2018 and the early bird offer (special price and free bonus lesson) closes on the 15th March 2018. So get in quick – there’s a few days left!

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Natural Pain Relief: Herbs for Infusion or Tea for Fibromyalgia

With the world’s eye on those of us suffering from chronic pain, I feel like bad news is delivered daily into my inbox with newsletters or articles telling me I can’t access something that helps me manage. Narcotics came under fire, now NSAIDS are ready for scrutiny. We know the medicines we need aren’t ideal but neither is chronic sleep deprivation or untreated pain. Seriously, there’s research! There’s a lot more information about this in my book.
To this end, I have decided to work through as many natural options as I can find to help you navigate potential new options for treatment. I am a big fan of things you can do for yourself. 
This week are herbs you can infuse or make as tea at home. 

Some of my links are affiliate links, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

Essential oils are an area I am just journeying into. My Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms post gives you five ideas you can enact yourself at home.
Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms

Here are some herbs I’ve been researching

Thyme

Thyme is touted as a “cure” in articles in a Google search “Thyme for Fibromyalgia”. I wouldn’t read those ones. The article Thyme: How a Herb can Help with Fibromyalgia Symptoms on Fibromyalgia News Today has a good explanation on the benefits of thyme it also has a recipe for thyme tea:
“One of the reasons thyme is so beneficial is because it’s high in vitamins and minerals, like iron, potassium, calcium, folic acid, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and C. All of these nutrients contribute to proper red blood cell formation, blood pressure regulation, and distribution of antioxidants in the body. It also contains thymol, an essential oil with potent antioxidant properties.” https://fibromyalgianewstoday.com/2017/03/17/thyme-herb-can-help-fibromyalgia-symptoms/
The other thing about thyme that is great, is that it can easily be grown in a small garden. I grow mine next to rosemary and coriander. But you could grow it in a small pot on a balcony or your kitchen windowsill. I’ll let you know when I have assessed its efficacy. Either way, it’s a good addition to your culinary forays.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm is meant to help with insomnia and anxiety. On the University of Maryland Medical Centre website in an article simply entitled Lemon Balm there is a discussion on the plant itself, its uses, precautions and supporting research. there’s also a recipe for using it in tea.
I have just planted this in my garden for use. If nothing else, it also has its culinary uses.

Nettle

Nettle is said to be better than a multivitamin – and cheaper – in this article from Sassy Holistics. Nettle infusions “are full of calcium, magnesium, iron, B complex vitamins, C complex, vitamins A, D and K as well as protein, cobalt, trace minerals, potassium, iodine, boron, manganese, zinc, copper and sulfur. Stinging nettles can truly be considered a cure-all.” This article recommends drinking 2-4 cups a day, which I’d find a bit difficult given I can only manage two non-water drinks a day and I love my coffee. I am going to try to get hold of some dried nettle and give it a go.
A note for pregnant mamas: “Nettles are also perfect for pregnant and nursing woman suffering from adrenal fatigue because they are used for boosting milk supply and preventing anemia.” Though, I’d double check with your doctor or midwife for their opinion.

Red Raspberry Leaf

The same article (above) above suggests Red Raspberry Leaf is a good herb for infusions also. “Red raspberry leaf is packed with nutrients: magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin C, b-vitamins and potassium. RRL is an amazing remedy for PMS, endometriosis, and it helps balance hormones. This herb is especially helpful for women trying to conceive as it is a very popular remedy for infertility.” Again, if you’re pregnant please check with your midwife or doctor or naturopath. I’d like to give this a go for PMS alone.

Other Herbs

An article on Herbal Supplement Resource website lists herbs for Fibromyalgia treatment. I’m not sure about growing these, but there are Devil’s Claw, Jamacian Dogwood, Cayenne, White Willow Bark and Corydalis. As always, research anything before you try them – especially for medicinal interactions.
Sassy Holistics is a good repository of natural health information, I particularly like this article for Healing on a Budget to get you started.

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