What is fibromyalgia like? Ask 10 people the same question and you can get 20 different answers. The pain of fibromyalgia can manifest itself in many different ways, but it is not just about the physical. People with fibromyalgia will also tell you how tired you are, basically all the time, to struggle with the “fibro brain” and try to explain to your loved ones why it’s so hard to get out of bed some mornings.
But if you are wondering if your own experience can really be fibromyalgia, or if you are looking for some clarity on how to support a loved one with fibromyalgia, there are a number of things you can learn about the condition – its causes, common symptoms. and natural treatments to help manage it.
Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Potential Causes and Diagnosis
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disorder that affects the muscles, bones and soft tissues of the body and can cause minimal to agonizing pain throughout the body. Symptoms span such a wide spectrum that the source of pain is ultimately subjective and remains uncertain. The subjectivity of fibromyalgia is also the reason why this chronic disorder is often misdiagnosed as some other health problem. Now, it’s not that researchers don’t understand fibromyalgia; They do. However, they have not yet found a clear cause. [2,3]
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), fibromyalgia affects approximately 10 million people in the United States, of which 4 million are adults; It also affects 3 to 6% of the world’s population. The incidences of this chronic disorder tend to be higher in women (75 to 90%) and are also common among siblings or mothers and their children. [4,5]
12 Most Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia may include: [3,5,6]
- Pain and stiffness throughout the body
- Anxiety and depression
- Waves of tiredness and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too long without feeling rested
- Inability to think, focus and remember
- Headaches and Migraines
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Pain in the face or jaw
- Digestive problems like bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and IBS
- Temperature sensitivity
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
Despite having a broad set of symptoms, people with fibromyalgia are most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50,  a gap likely caused by the subjectivity of the symptoms.
Or what causes fibromyalgia?
As mentioned above, researchers still need to define a cause. Instead, they attribute several factors to support the potential liability of fibromyalgia. First, infections caused by current or past disease outbreaks can aggravate existing fibromyalgia symptoms. Second, genetics can play an important role in determining who gets this chronic disorder and who doesn’t. Over time, research has shown that if someone in your family has fibromyalgia – for whatever reason – the risk of eventually getting it also increases. Third, individuals with other chronic diseases , such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, have a greater chance of developing fibromyalgia. Lastly, physical or emotional trauma caused by, for example, a car accident can result in long-term pain from fibromyalgia. [5,7,8]
Researchers around the world are also exploring other possible causes of fibromyalgia. Specifically, some are studying the nuances of how the central nervous system, that is, the spinal cord and the brain, processes pain. 
While fibromyalgia symptoms usually begin early in life, the condition is not often diagnosed until later in life. In the process of searching for answers that can help stop constant pain, people may end up seeing numerous doctors before one finally brings fibromyalgia as the likely culprit for the pain. But this diagnosis is not as simple as you would expect for several reasons: 
- Fibromyalgia symptoms tend to overlap many other common and testable health problems.
- There is no test yet that effectively analyzes fibromyalgia or reveals a single physiological reason for pain.
- Because of the two reasons above, doctors unfortunately misdiagnose patients, simply dismiss their pain as false, or say they can’t do much to help.
It used to be that doctors offered a diagnosis of fibromyalgia based on at least eleven of the eighteen “trigger points”, the most common being the back of the head, upper shoulders, upper chest, hips. , knees and external elbows. 
Now what the right doctor (ie, a rheumatologist) can do is use criteria that the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has set. This criterion includes the following: 
- History of generalized pain lasting at least 3 months
- General symptoms such as fatigue, unrecovered awakening, and memory or thinking problems
- Find out where the patient felt pain in the last week
Fortunately, even with no known cause, you can still effectively treat and control the pain.
Conventional Fibromyalgia Treatment Methods
Because fibromyalgia comes with such a versatile set of symptoms, relief often takes the form of not just a combination of treatments, but a combination of medical professionals. Depending on someone’s fibromyalgia case, they may require a doctor, physical therapist and mental health counselor, among others.
Doctors give the average fibromyalgia patient several medications to relieve immediate physical and mental pain. Most commonly, doctors prescribe painkillers, antidepressants or anti-seizure medications. In addition to non-prescription painkillers and NSAIDs, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, the FDA has approved only three drugs for use in the treatment of fibromyalgia: 
- Duloxetine (used to treat depression)
- Milnacipran (which was created for depression but is now only used to treat fibromyalgia)
- Pregabalin (which is used to treat chronic pain caused by a damaged nervous system)
The problem with synthetic drugs is the long-term side effects that inevitably accompany their use. Due to the uncertain and chronic nature of fibromyalgia, it is almost certain that you will end up using these potentially harmful medications for long periods of time.
Masking so many symptoms simultaneously also makes this treatment path counterproductive. Yes, these medications can help with temporary pain relief, but the need to address other drug-induced side effects often leads to more long-term problems. Some of the most common side effects associated with fibromyalgia drugs are: 
- Dry mouth
- Potential interactions with other drugs
- Concentration difficulty
- Weight gain
- Suicidal thoughts
“The drug with no side effects is only in our imagination.” – Dr. Eduardo Fraifeld (President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine)
Natural Methods To Help Treat Fibromyalgia
For those who want to get around or minimize the side effects mentioned, we suggest exploring the alternative methods below.
The Fibromyalgia Diet
Although there is no real diet specifically for fibromyalgia sufferers, doctors advise that if certain foods cause constant discomfort, omit them from meals. To keep track of foods that may or may not lead to pain, food diaries may be helpful and the more detailed the better . After a while, you may start to notice dietary patterns that make you feel better or worse. This is valuable information for you and your doctor, which we hope will lead to more effective fibromyalgia treatment over time. As a good rule of thumb, you should avoid these 5 foods if you experience muscle, joint, or fibromyalgia pain. If you want to take these preventative measures even further, try your best to maintain a diet full of real foods,
Fibromyalgia Supplements and Herbs
Getting enough sleep and minimizing mental and physical stress are crucial for people living with fibromyalgia. Fortunately, our planet produces natural anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, ginger or garlic, and there are supplements like melatonin or 5-HTP that help induce and stimulate deep sleep. Keeping inflammation to a minimum and dealing with chronic fatigue before it causes too much negative damage to your mental health will help to reduce symptoms safely. [12,13,14]
Vitamin D, B12 and magnesium supplementation can also help relieve muscle, nerve pain, restore muscle fiber and elevate your mood. [15,16,17] The easiest way to benefit from them is through oral supplementation, although receiving these intravenous vitamins or minerals for target body parts is also optional through your doctor.
Yoga by Tai Chi for Fibromialgia
Yoga and tai chi have been used for centuries to cure numerous physical and mental ills. Combining meditation, conscious breathing and relaxation, there is evidence that each of these natural treatments can effectively help control the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy followed a group of people with fibromyalgia for two months. Throughout the study, researchers noted significant improvements in their stiffness, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being following regular yoga and meditation practice. There was even an increase in the days when participants “felt good” and a decrease in the days of “lack of work”.  Advertising
Another in the New England Journal of Medicine conducted 12-week randomized trials with tai chi intervention. During the study, participants with fibromyalgia could continue using routine medications and seeing their primary care providers or rheumatologists. They attended a 60-minute tai chi class twice a week and were instructed to practice 20 minutes of tai chi alone at home each day. At twelve weeks, compared to the control group, the tai chi intervention group showed improvements in sleep and more individuals discontinued use of fibromyalgia medications. 
Therapeutic Massage for Fibromyalgia
Massage therapy is undoubtedly one of the oldest alternative treatments that is still in practice (and alive and well). Whatever your illness, a massage therapy session can help slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, and increase your overall range of motion in your joints.
In Rheumatology International , the researchers conducted a complete review of all available studies on the effects of massage therapy on fibromyalgia symptoms. They found that massage therapy could offer immediate short-term relief, especially when sessions occur at least 1-2 times a week. Other research published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) They found that when massage therapy took place for at least 5 weeks, the symptoms of fibromyalgia (eg, pain, anxiety and depression) provided immediate and beneficial improvements. While the long-term benefits could be seen, the researchers concluded that more studies needed to be done before any definitive statement could be made. [20.21]
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that works on the premise of restoring the balance of the body’s vital forces by using thin needles to stimulate certain parts of the body and promote better circulation. The general opinion on the effectiveness of acupuncture remains quite divided, although there is some promising research suggesting that people with fibromyalgia should consider this treatment.
Chinese medicine has published a study hoping to find out if acupuncture could really improve the pain and quality of life of fibromyalgia patients. The researchers divided the participants into two groups; Over the course of five weeks, one group received 5 acupuncture treatments while the other received double. After the five weeks were up, the researchers found that the group receiving 10 acupuncture treatments instead of 5 reported feeling less pain and having a better quality of life. 
Exercise for fibromyalgia
If fibromyalgia is so painful, can exercise really be effective? Studies suggest “yes”. Many people refrain from exercising so as not to aggravate their fibromyalgia symptoms. However, an in-depth analysis of randomized controlled trials and exercise reviews for people with fibromyalgia published in the Current Pain and Headache Reports suggests otherwise.
Examining everything from aerobic exercise to strength training and yoga and Nordic walking, the researchers concluded that different forms of exercise can effectively reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as pain and depression, improving physical function and overall health.  Of course, everyone is different, so there is no single exercise for everyone. But with the guidance of a health expert or physical therapist, you can find what works for you.