How many times have you been told that exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, and eating better would improve the pain and symptoms from fibromyalgia?
I’d be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every doctor, friend, family member, or a stranger on the street, that told me the same things!
From my diagnosis of fibromyalgia in 2003 to the fall of 2012, that advice fell on deaf ears. While great advice, there was a step missing before I could put it into action.
*Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Meaning that at no additional cost to you, I receive a commission when you make a purchase through my links. The proceeds earned fund the giveaways I host in my Facebook groups.
It wasn’t because I didn’t believe any of those things could make a difference. I knew that moving my body helped with muscle and joint stiffness, but I was in too much pain to even stretch. The never-ending pain made it impossible to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. As for eating better? To be honest, I had given up and really didn’t care about what I was putting into my mouth.
What everyone fails to recognize is that pain relief is what helps us to move our bodies, sleep better, and make wiser food choices. Without relief, my brain is as useless as my body!
Beginning in 2013, I began making radical changes to how I combat pain and symptoms from fibromyalgia. As you may have guessed, I didn’t start with exercise, sleep, or diet. Nope, instead, everything began falling into place and was made easier after I began experiencing true, not masked pain relief.
Today I am sharing five ways that I reduce pain and how each has led or leads to making strides with exercise, sleep, and nutrition.
Number One Arnica
I have been applying an arnica salve on sore muscles for approximately eight months. Oh, how I wish I had known about this wonder herb back when I was first diagnosed. At the time of my diagnosis, cannabis was not yet legal for any purpose in Arizona.
For those of you who don’t want to use cannabis-derived products or live where they are not legally available, arnica salves are equally as effective as any cannabis/CBD topical product that I have tried. And I have tried quite a few in the past 7 years!
Not only does it work as well, but it is legal and costs pennies compared to any cannabis/CBD topical available for resale. The salve I use is all-natural and organic and only costs $5.49 per tube! Like I said, way more affordable than CBD/cannabis topicals which often run over $50. And the best part is that unlike my cannabis products, I am able to take and use my arnica salve everywhere and anywhere I need to.
As with all treatments, I find that applying arnica to the pain site sooner rather than later to be the most effective.
When experiencing wide-spread pain, I apply it everywhere I hurt.
With fibromyalgia, when a pain source ignites it spreads like wildfire. If not careful, a twinge in my neck can quickly lead to full-on muscle stiffness and pain throughout my neck, skull, shoulders, and upper back.
Thanks to my arnica salve, I am able to put those fires out quickly no matter where I am at.
Suggested arnica products
By reducing the pain in a muscle as soon as I am aware of it, I prevent it from spreading and becoming more severe. Having a topical pain reliever that actually relieves pain reduces the anxiety I used to experience just from thinking about having to move my body.
Number Two Vitamin D
According to researchers, it is common for people with fibromyalgia to be vitamin D deficient. To bring their level up, most doctors suggest taking supplements.
Soon after my diagnosis, my doctor suggested that I begin taking vitamin D supplements. So I did.
The result? Nothing! There was no change in my pain or fatigue levels.
Did that mean that increasing my vitamin D intake with supplements and foods rich in it was a waste of time? Not at all. Instead, it was a lesson to my doctor and myself in how my body accepts vitamin D.
In my case, the only way I was able to raise my vitamin D level was to receive it topically. I brought my level up by sitting in the sun for 10-15 minutes a day.
Thankfully I live in southern California where we get plenty of sunshine year-round. However, last winter was colder and wetter than any I have experienced since moving here in 2010 and noticed a difference.
Because I felt such a significant difference, I am preparing by looking for a topical vitamin D product to get me through another rainy season. Plus it would be great to have another option if I decide to travel to destinations where sitting in the sun isn’t always an option.
When my vitamin D level is where it needs to be I have more energy. Even when I was recovering from an injury, I wasn’t suffering from mental fatigue.
If you have tried and failed to increase your vitamin D level with supplements, don’t give up! Talk to your doctor about using a topical cream or absorbing it naturally by sitting in the sun for a few minutes every day.
Topical vitamin D options
Number Three CBD and MMJ
Medical marijuana was the first thing I turned to after completely detoxing from opioids, muscle relaxers, and other heavy duty sedative drugs. Not one of them ever really reduced my pain, they just masked it. I was popping pills of some sort 24/7. I never woke refreshed and I was never pain-free.
I received my medical marijuana recommendation exactly 10 years after my initial fibromyalgia diagnosis. That afternoon was the first time since my diagnosis that I had ever experienced true pain relief.
What surprised me the most about using cannabis as a pain-reliever is that it doesn’t mask pain. Sure, it distracts or redirects my thoughts from my pain source, but it also really relieves pain.
For example, in the past if my muscles were knotted up from a day of activity, I would take a muscle relaxer and opioid. I felt like I was getting relief, but the reality was that they were just masking my pain and the symptom, because when they wore off I was in just as much if not more pain than I was before I took them. That is not relief.
The result when choosing cannabis over prescription pain-relievers is like night and day. With cannabis, I feel my muscles relax. I feel the pain leave my body. What I am left with is tingling at the pain sources!! That is something that prescription pain management never provided me with, the knowledge of exactly where my pain was stemming from. That knowledge has helped prevent further injury and spreading of pain. It also made it possible to know which areas I needed to focus on treatment and care with.
The other difference was how I felt the following morning. I felt refreshed and have yet to this day ever felt worse the following morning.
Cannabis provides me with restorative sleep. Until that wonderful August afternoon in 2013, I was never, no matter what I tried, ever able to reach that level of sleep.
If you are curious about or want to learn more about using cannabis for chronic pain, be sure to join my pain group on Facebook. Click here to join.
If you do not live where cannabis is available for either medicinal or recreational purposes you may want to try CBD products. I am not going to tell you that CBD alone works as well as THC, because it doesn’t, at least not for me.
Personally, I use CBD for anxiety and depression, not for physical symptoms. The reason for this is it works wonders for my anxiety. However, the amount I need for physical pain relief is enormous and way too expensive. Medicating with THC is far more affordable. And because I achieve such fantastic relief at bedtime, I rarely need to medicate with it during daytime hours.
Like anything else, cannabis alone isn’t a fix all for all of my symptoms and pain. But it is one of two major components of my pain management plan.
You will find more affordable and effective CBD options at a cannabis dispensary. However, for those of you who do not have access to one, there are a few reputable online companies that I recommend.
Recommended CBD products
Number Four Magnesium
A deficiency in magnesium may be increasing your muscle cramping/spasms/aches, headaches, anxiety, and sleepless nights.
There are several options for increasing your magnesium intake.
Eat magnesium rich foods.
Increase your intake of nuts, such as almonds, cashews, brazil nuts and pecans, avocados, bananas, and leafy greens. Click here for more food suggestions!
Bathe in it
Fill your tub and add magnesium bath flakes to help relax muscles.
Apply a topical
Just like with vitamin D, my body wasn’t reaching the levels it needed through diet alone. I get the best results from bathing in it and applying a topical magnesium-rich lotion. I apply the lotion 3-5 times a week, more if necessary, to my legs and belly before bedtime. It helps my body to relax and fall asleep faster.
- Good Night Lotion (Click here to read my review)
- Mo’ Maggie Magnesium Lotion
- Oraganix Magnesium Salt Bath Flakes
- Restless Legs Magnesium Chloride Flakes with Organic Orange, Cedarwood, and Lavender
Number 5 PEMF Therapy
I have saved the best for last. From 2013-2016, my main source of fibromyalgia pain relief was medical marijuana.
In 2016, I began making dietary changes. Click here to download my eBook for free to find out how I figured out what my trigger foods were.
I began testing a PEMF therapy device at the end of November 2016. I didn’t see major results at first, but I also wasn’t using it faithfully. However, after six weeks I noticed an increase of energy and the ability to reduce pain in my knee within hours instead of days or weeks! This made it possible to begin exercising. After years of not being able to exercise at all, I was exercising twice a week, then three times, and so on.
In March of 2017, I began using my device daily and focused 90% of my treatment time to my spine. This allowed me to begin walking daily. I have had some setbacks due to injuries and a car accident, but the relief I have experienced with my Oska Pulse has allowed me to resume physical activity as soon as I healed. It has also helped with the healing process.
I am an Oska Wellness affiliate, but that isn’t why I share information about this product or my experience. I share because of how much it has improved my chronic pain. Even with the various injuries I have endured, (torn muscles, fractured shoulder and hip, bruised shin, and multiple broken ribs) I can honestly say that the past two and a half years have been the best out of my entire chronic life.
As an affiliate, I am able to share a discount with you. Enter discount code DIVA at checkout to save $55.00! Click here to visit Oska Wellness.
I take and use my PEMF device everywhere I go, even Disneyland! It’s discreet, quiet, and non-invasive. The best part is that it reduces my chronic pain without drugs or side-effects.
While there isn’t a cure for fibromyalgia, there is hope of living with less pain. The pain relieving methods mentioned in this article help reduce my pain enough to make exercising without repercussions, achieving restorative sleep on a regular basis, and the mental clarity to make wiser nutritional choices possible. When combined, my pain levels are lower than I could have ever imagined.
When I was unable to stand, walk, or sit for more than five minutes, my doctors all said that there was no hope of ever improving. They were wrong!
Have you tried anything listed here? What was/is your experience?
What other natural or alternative options have successfully reduced your pain and symptoms?