Home | Search | Site Map
Contact Me
| Recommended Books
Disclaimer, Terms of Use,
Advertising Disclosure and Privacy Policy

Fibromyalgia Natural Treatments

The Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy, Moist Heat and Gentle Stretching

 Read my disclaimer and terms of use.    

The following steps are the treatment tips that helped me to recover from fibromyalgia. I used to be so sore all over that it hurt just to bend over to do the laundry or turn my head to back the car of the driveway. I had to drop out of school because it hurt to sit at a computer and type. With a lot of research, a lot of books, the help of a good rheumatologist and physical therapist, I'm in pretty good shape these days. I'll probably never be an Olympic athlete or a winner on Survivor, but I'm at the point where I can hold down a job, work at a computer for extended periods, do aerobics videos, and best of all, not be in chronic pain day to day. For more on my history with fibromyalgia see my section on diet.)

Listed below are the top treatment tips that helped me to recover from my fibromyalgia and chronic pain problems.

My short term solutions were:

  1. Search out the trigger point areas using a massage tool. An important point to note is that where your body hurts the most may not be the source of the pain. In my case my neck and jaw hurt the most, but my trigger points were located under my arms pits and in my legs, especially my thighs.

  2. Moist heat is helpful for relaxing muscles. Warm showers worked well for me.

  3. Apply counter pressure to the trigger points to loosen them up. For myself and both of my sons, who also have problems with tight muscles, this technique works amazingly well.

  4. Follow the counter pressure session with a stretching / gentle yoga session to relax and lengthen tight muscles. If yoga or any other exercise hurts, I found it is better to skip it. Before I found a PT who really helped me, I had other physical therapists tell me to "work through the pain". Those were not the PTs who ever helped me - they just made me worse. Pain is your body's way of telling you "that hurts - don't do that". I found that pain during exercise just led to more pain.

  5. One great piece of advice I did get from a physical therapist was that whatever you do today will determine your pain level tomorrow. For me, I have found this to be true. If I spend a day eating a lot of junk food, working on the computer and not doing my fibromyalgia treatment routine, then I pay for it by being sore the next day. However, if I spend a day eating high magnesium, whole foods made from scratch combined with lots of stretching, yoga and trigger point therapy, then the next day I feel pretty good.

  6. How to tell if the steps are working - I've experimented by just doing my treatment sessions on only one leg and then taking a walk around the block. It's amazing how much more relaxed the leg that has had the trigger point therapy and stretches feels. It's no wonder that people with fibromyalgia also often have Chronic Fatigue syndrome. When your muscles are really tight, it takes much more effort to move them. I didn't realize just how tight my muscles were most of my life until I found these ways to get them loosened up.

  7. For longer term pain solutions I had to balance my muscles better and improve my body alignment. I also had to change my diet to provide my body with more of the nutrients responsible for relaxing muscles after a contraction. Without the right biochemical triggers, contracted muscles are unable to relax and will stay in a contracted state for a very long time.
My longer term solutions included:

. To prevent extra tension in my hands, I bought a variety of labor saving devices to help let the muscles in my hands and upper body relax:
  • I bought extra sharp knives for the kitchen so I didn't have to press down so hard when cutting produce and meat. I know it doesn't sound like it would make much of a difference, but if each little change you make decreases tension in you hands by just 3 - 5%, then over time ten or so small changes can add up to a big reduction in pain over the course of the day. I found when my hands were tight, the tension in them would travel up my arm, causing pain in my arm, neck and shoulders.

  • I bought precut fresh veggies or frozen veggies from the grocery store. It's tempting to eat out a lot when it hurts to cook, but magnesium rich, nutrient dense whole foods are much better for muscle relaxation than eating a lot of highly salted, processed foods. I think fresh vegetables, either made into soup or lightly steamed are best, but if your hands are too sore to chop them up, then fresh or precut are the next best option. (To read more about my history of fibromyalgia, see the first section of my best foods for fibromyalgia page.)

  • I bought a shredder for the office. It may sound strange, but I noticed that my hands would get sore even from something as minor as ripping up old receipts and checks.

      Before I bought my shredder, I used to tear old bills and financial statements up by hand. No wonder my hands got sore.

  • I bought a hospital style bed table that slides over a chair or bed to use for reading. I either held the pages of books open with rubber bands or used a book holder. Holding books up to read was a big tension inducer for me in my hands, neck and shoulders.

    man in hospital bed with PC on table
      I bought a table like this for at home, so I could rest my books on them and not have to grip them so tight.

  • I avoided anything that involved detailed work with my hands - sewing, embroidery, too much computer work, etc.
2. I made many changes in my home office, since I knew sitting at the PC was a big source of tension in my body. I made my office set up more ergonomically correct. My physical therapist helped me redesign my workstation to minimize muscle strain on my neck and hands. It took me awhile to find just the right setup. There are hundreds, if not thousands or tens of thousands of books on how to ergonomically set up your office, and the advice in each book is different. The advice that worked for me is listed below:
  • I tried expensive chairs on a trial basis, and for the money it just didn't seem to make much of a difference. It was easier and cheaper just to take a basic chair from a place like Office Depot and buy inexpensive seat cushions and pads as needed to shape it to support my body correctly.

  • Though I did spend a lot of money on different chairs, pillows, splints, heat packs, etc., for my fibromyalgia and other aches and pains, in the end the only products that were really effective for me were some relatively inexpensive massage tools. It helps to have massage tools when doing the trigger point therapy to keep from getting repetitive strain injuries in your hands.

  • I bought a keyboard tray so when I typed on my PC, my arms were at right angles. Prior to that I had to reach upwards to type with the keyboard sitting on the desk. It made a huge difference having the keyboard lower. Our other office desk doesn't have a keyboard tray, and I can really tell the difference in my neck and shoulder muscles after using that desk and PC for even brief periods.

  • I bought a stand for my monitor so could look at the PC screen at eye level instead of downward. When I was looking downward all day, over time it made my neck muscles contracted in the front and stretched out in the back causing a muscle imbalance.

  • One small change that had big benefits for me was to switch the type of mouse I had on the computer. I went from one with a track ball to an optical scanner mouse. This made a tremendous difference in shoulder and arm pain. Those thousands of little repetitive motions during the day really added up to much less pain for me when my mouse was easier to glide around much more. My husband said he could not tell the difference, but I could tell it by decreased pain in my arm and neck after spending any time on the PC.

  • I got a wedge type seat cushion that helped me to sit more upright instead of slouching. Again, this is a small change, but it really helps to keep my front torso muscles from shortening by forcing me to sit in a more upright posture.

  • I tried voice recognition software for the PC, but it would often take minutes just to get a single sentence typed correctly. I found it more productive to just stay on the computer for short periods of time, and then do a lot of stretching and trigger pint therapy afterward.

3. I avoided anything with a repetitive motion like most exercise equipment or tasks that required a stationary position.

  • One of the factors that I think got me into bad shape in the first place was a cross country ski machine. I got in great shape from using it, so it was hard to give it up. But in the end I realized that doing the same motions over and over again were just not for me.

    cross country ski machine
      My ski machine did two things for me: 1) I lost weight and wore a size 6 for the first time in my life since grade school, and 2) it helped me develop fibromyalgia so bad I could hardly move.

  • I avoided long trips in the car. Another factor that got me into bad shape was driving way too much. When my kids were little and just starting to out grow naps, yet still needed them, I would drive them around in the car in their car seats until they fell asleep. I hindsight, I was wasting gas and not doing my body any favors.

  • For exercise I focused on things I could do that use different muscles group and didn't tighten anything up too much such as dancing, yoga, and walking (on flat ground). I avoided anything that tightened my muscles like weight lifting, walking up strenuous hills, Pilates, etc.
    Yin yoga was especially good for me because it focuses more on relaxing muscles than the other types of yoga. Even Tai Chi was hard for me to do initially, as it tightened up some of my already-too-tight muscles.

  • Instead of doing any set exercise videos, I just do my own dancing so I can avoid the moves that I know are too strenuous for me. To do this I bought a bunch of videos on iTunes and then hooked my Ipod up to our big screen TV so I can watch the videos on there and dance along. Plus this way I can dance to the bands I like, inlcuding Muse and Nickelback, instead of the less known, royalty inexpensive songs in the exercise videos.

    woman holding mp3 player
      I bought a cable to hook my iPod to my TV so I can dance to my favorite music videos for exercise.

4. I think fairly firm mattresses are best. We bought a new mattress with a "pillow top" and it does seem to make my aches and pains worse than the firmer one we used to have. Part of the problem is that I like to sleep on my side. The firmer mattress would keep my body straighter as I slept. With the soft mattress, my hips sink into the top and, over eight hours of sleep they tend to get out of alignment with my legs and shoulders. I have noticed that I have more pains in my hips from sleeping on this softer mattress. I don't have a good short term solution except to rotate the mattress as much as possible and to do yoga counter stretches each day to bring my hips back into proper alignment.





Related sections of interest:

Natural Treatments for Fibromyalgia

My Personal Causes of Neck Pain

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Defined

What Causes TMJ?

Finding a Good Physical Therapist

Home | Search | Site Map
Contact Me
| Recommended Books
Disclaimer, Terms of Use,
Advertising Disclosure and Privacy Policy

Copyright 1999 - 2018 Infinity Web Development, LLC. All rights reserved.