How New Fibromyalgia Treatment Options Can Improve Quality of Life
Fibromyalgia is a very real condition, though it’s not uncommon for people who have it to experience misdiagnosis, feel misunderstood by their care providers, or receive ineffective treatment. This experience can be incredibly frustrating for those seeking relief from their symptoms.
Fortunately, new research offers access to revolutionary treatments that can better address fibromyalgia symptoms. Despite what some doctors believe, studies confirm that the experience of fibromyalgia patients is not “just in their heads.”
Now, new fibromyalgia treatment options can take a more targeted, holistic path.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a persistent, chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and impacts on cognitive function. There’s no singular cause of this condition. However, research indicates it is often “triggered or aggravated by multiple physical and/or emotional stressors,” including:
- Viral infection
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- History of severe emotional stress
- Ongoing severe emotional stress
- Traumatic events
There’s also a potential genetic component. If a family member is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, first-degree relatives are “8.5 times more likely to have this disorder than the general population.”
If fibromyalgia is a part of your life, you’re not alone. Fibromyalgia affects millions worldwide, with approximately “10 million people in the US and an estimated 3–6% of the world population” living with the condition. The disorder is far more common among women than men.
Despite its prevalence, finding a physician who truly understands the condition and can take proper measures to help you find relief can be exasperating and exhausting.
Traditional Treatments for Fibromyalgia
When managing fibromyalgia symptoms, the following treatment options are typically the first course of action to help people take control of their well-being. The treatments outlined are proactive and reactive measures that may provide some relief for fibromyalgia symptoms.
Lifestyle modifications may improve some fibromyalgia symptoms. These modifications can reduce the impact of symptoms like fatigue, low energy, poor sleep quality, and mood. Lifestyle changes often include establishing and practicing good sleep routines and eating a well-balanced diet.
Individuals living with fibromyalgia may experience chronic discomfort and ongoing, widespread pain. These symptoms can contribute to stiffness, soreness, and tension, among other bodily issues. Physical therapy can help reduce pain, using customized exercise programs to improve flexibility, strength, and endurance. Exercise can increase mobility and enhance general feelings of well-being.
Physicians sometimes prescribe medications to treat pain, improve sleep quality, or help regulate the psychological symptoms involved in the condition. Several medications, both over-the-counter and prescriptions, can play a role in managing fibromyalgia symptoms. Among those commonly used are:
- Pain relievers
Therapy or Counseling
Fibromyalgia brings new challenges that can be difficult to process. Professional emotional support can enhance your emotional well-being and help you cultivate a positive outlook on life, even in the face of chronic symptoms. Working with a compassionate therapist or counselor can go a long way toward developing helpful coping strategies and stress management skills.
New Fibromyalgia Treatments
Traditional treatments can do a lot to relieve day-to-day fibromyalgia symptoms. However, more advanced, comprehensive solutions go beyond addressing the surface-level effects of the condition.
New fibromyalgia treatment solutions go deeper to provide long-lasting relief and empowerment to those dealing with symptoms. These therapies look at the underlying mechanisms associated with how the condition manifests.
Stress Management Activities
Recent research has shown that the condition has a psychiatric element and that exposure to psychosocial stressors may “contribute to dysfunctional pain processing.” Because abnormal pain perception can be exacerbated by stress, the following Stress management strategies like the following can be powerful ways to address fibromyalgia symptoms:
- Deep breathing
- Enjoyable hobbies
- Yoga and tai chi
It’s critical to note that people can have a range of experiences with stress. In one study, 75% of participants engaging in a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice reported “experiencing a reduction in symptom severity.” In other studies, there’s “no evidence that mindfulness had an effect on other variables, such as positive mood, attention, sleep.”
Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation
Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reshape neural pathways throughout your lifespan, indicates that it’s possible to take measures to change your brain structure intentionally. For people with fibromyalgia, this approach can involve addressing how the brain perceives pain.
Hands-on, specialist-led treatments are alternative methods to encourage neuroplasticity. These non-invasive brain stimulation treatments involve the use of electrodes that deliver low-level currents to activate certain areas of the brain.
Early studies have found “potentially promising results of at least three non-invasive techniques”:
- Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
These therapies are thought to be effective because they may address the underlying mechanisms of the brain and body’s pain response. The same research suggests that these brain stimulation techniques may be most effective in conjunction with other therapies, such as medication, mindfulness, counseling, or hypnosis.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Another new treatment for fibromyalgia has promising results, as published in peer-reviewed studies. These trials indicate that a unique, evidence-based hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) protocol (involving breathing fluctuating levels of pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber) can increase oxygen levels in the body’s tissues and trigger the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms.
Research shows that HBOT is more effective than pharmacological intervention for “improv[ing] pain symptoms, quality of life, [and] emotional and social function” in patients with fibromyalgia.
In one particular study, patients underwent brain scans before and after the clinical HBOT trials. Post-trial scans showed changes in participants’ brain scans following HBOT. The researchers noted “HBOT led to a significant decrease in the intake of pain medications by the patients.”
The HBOT process helps promote tissue healing, reduce inflammation, and enhance brain and body performance. This treatment provides the following support:
- Less fatigue
- Reduced brain fob
- Decreased pain
- Boosted energy level
- Improved cognitive function
- Increased brain connectivity
- Improved sleep quality
Remarkably, participants in the clinical fibromyalgia trial saw significant symptom improvement, with results remaining consistent even two years after the study’s end. According to Dr. Efrati, coauthor of the study:
“We saw the wound in the brain, and we treated it. It’s amazing what happened to them, just amazing. The way they see the world is totally different. The way they communicate with their children, their families. They’re successful at work. They don’t take medication anymore. It’s a game-changer.”
HBOT treatment is non-invasive, targeting the regions of the brain and body responsible for pain sensation and tolerance to enhance feelings of well-being.
The HBOT protocol used in the aforementioned studies is the same protocol employed in the state-of-the-art hyperbaric suites at Aviv Clinics.
For Patti, this solution was life-changing.
“By halfway through, I didn’t have the pain or the aches anymore…I didn’t feel like I had the fatigue. I had so much energy. I have a clear brain now… I just feel like I have a whole new brain.” — Patti, Aviv Clinics.
Watch Patti’s Story: Healing from Fibromyalgia
Future Outlook and Potential Impact on Fibromyalgia Patients
As new fibromyalgia treatment options continue to offer a greater understanding of the condition and better results, the outlook is increasingly promising. If you’re dealing with the effects of fibromyalgia, there is hope for a reduction in symptoms.
Since fibromyalgia symptoms can vary from person to person, a targeted, personalized program that addresses the underlying mechanisms of the condition is key to more comprehensive, effective management. At Aviv Clinics, each prospective client receives a personalized treatment program, based on the clients’ individual needs and health concerns, and the results of a comprehensive physical, medical, and cognitive assessment.
The Aviv Medical Program is a holistic treatment plan that can include the following:
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
- Cognitive training
- Physical performance training
- Dietary coaching
There is renewed hope as we make new strides toward understanding fibromyalgia.
Advancements in medical science have paved the way for new fibromyalgia treatment options designed to alleviate symptoms and empower individuals to reclaim their quality of life.
Taking a multi-dimensional approach, the team at Aviv Clinics improves outcomes for people with fibromyalgia.