Five Alternative Therapies for Treating Fibromyalgia Pain | Living with Fibromyalgia

The best piece of advice I can give to anyone living with fibromyalgia or any other chronic illness is to take a holistic approach to managing the disease and its symptoms. In my opinion, a holistic treatment approach is the most effective way to manage chronic disease and live as full of a life as you possibly can.

A holistic treatment approach is the most effective way to manage chronic illness

What Is A Holistic Approach?

What do I mean when I say “holistic approach”?  For me holistic means to treat my whole being or whole self in the way I approach all the different treatments that I use to manage my symptoms. This means asking myself how each and every singular treatment that I impose onto (or into) my body will affect my mind, my body, my soul, and my energy. Looking at my body and my mind as interrelated systems where each piece impacts and affects the others; ensures that I use therapies that compliment and highlight each other and each of my symptoms.

From a medical standpoint, holistic health care is an integrated approach to health care that treats the “whole” person, not simply symptoms and disease. Mind and body are integrated and inseparable.

One example I like to give is that early on in my journey, I was fiercely opposed to using any medication to treat my symptoms. This approach ended up doing more harm than good to my body and mind and so over time I slowly learned what medications and dosages work best for me and eventually led to a pharmacological plan that I feel compliments the non-Western medical approaches that work well for me.

What Is Alternative?

When I use the term “alternative” for this article, I am referring to non-prescription medication treatment options. In holistic medicine alternative therapies cover a wide variety of treatments that include

  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Stretching
  • and more

In addition to prescription medication;the following alternative therapies are treatments that have significantly improved my quality of life and allowed me to have a full life even with the daily waxing and waning of the fibromyalgia symptoms that I deal with. The therapies that I’m recommending are relatively inexpensive, have low impact on the body, and naturally integrate the whole person in their approach. These therapies are not a magic pill or “cure” and have not eliminated fibromyalgia for me in any way. However, they have greatly improved my quality of life and made living with fibromyalgia more management and tolerable.

Of course I have to note that these therapies are what work best for me personally and I cannot in any way guarantee that they will work for anyone else. It is always best practice to consult with your medical and intergrated medicine specialist before beginning a new therapy.

1. Diffusing Essential Oils

For the past four years, essentials oils have played a major role in my every day life. Our mind creates powerful connections between scent and our emotions, surroundings, and memories. Diffusing essential oils is a simple but effective way to access these connections. Because diffusion distributes essential oil molecules into the air so effectively, it is an excellent way to maximize the beneficial properties of essential oils. Each essential oil has it’s own therapeutic property but oils that have best helped me are lavendar, peppermint, lemon, and sandalwood. Many essential oils can be ingested, put directly on the skin, and/or diffused. An excellent resource is Young Living. 

2. Acupuncture

According to Dr. Weil.comAcupuncture is a complete medical protocol focused on correcting imbalances of energy in the body. It has been used traditionally to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health”. In a nutshell acupuncture modifies the flow of energy (known as qi or chi) throughout the body,  Acupuncture has also proved beneficial for reducing fatigue and addictions, and for promoting overall well-being.

For me personally, acupuncture has proved to me an effective treatment options when my pain levels have spiked beyond the point where prescription medications are effective. Fortunately, my medication regime has proved overall effective so I haven’t used it as much as I have in the past.

3. Water Walking

It probably comes as a surprise, but consistent movement is a top strategy to manage fibromygia pain and muscle stiffness. Moving beyond normal proves difficult with fibromyalgia and it is for this reason why man of us gain weight and have sore stiff muscles because excessive movement can also trigger flares. Finding the right balance between rest and movement is a constant challenge and is why I’ve found moving and/or exercising under water to be an effective solution. The water in takes much of the pressure of the joints and there’s a feeling of weightlessness that you have when moving underwater. Fortunately I live in a town where there are a number of therapy pools that offer walking under water as an option. I especially like participating in the winter time when cold temps make outside exercise even more daunting.

4. Floatation Therapy

Floatation therapy is one f my favostire alternative treatments. I’ve made it my aim to focus on self-care and so now I go at least every other week. Inside each float tank is eight hundred pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt dissolved in ten inches of water warmed to skin temperature. Like the Dead Sea, this extremely dense solution enables people of all body types to float effortlessly.The float tank is dark and quiet, greatly reducing sensory stimulation. This unique environment frees the brain from the bulk of its processing duties and prompts the production of theta waves.

The magnesium is absorbed into the body and for me salt water floating is a must do in my bag of treatments to manage fibro.

5. UV Light Therapy

Last but not least on my docket is UV light therapy aka as a tanning bed. As a celiac with IBS I don’t absorb all the nutrients from the food that I eat and one of the vitamins that I am perpetually deficient in is vitamin D. Going to the tanning bed not only helps me with vitamin D but the warmth gets deep into my bones and keeps me toasty warm on these cold winter months.

So that’s my list. In no particular order, all the treatments that help me cope and manage and do all that I do. Let me know in the comments: What alternative therapies work for you?

What alternative therapies work for you?





What Chronic Fatigue Feels Like | Living with Fibromyalgia

I’m writing this post during what will most likely be my last chronic fatigue flare of 2017. Even though I’ve lived with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (CFS) since 2010; every major flare seems like the first and even though mentally I handle them much better than I did in the past, it’s still difficult not to feel a surreal sense of death, doom, and despair.

It’s difficult not to feel a surreal sense of death, doom, and despair

The mental anguish and feeling that life simply cannot continue is what’s most difficult. Even though you know it will subside there’s always this feeling that maybe it won’t. This is what scares you the most.

Chronic fatigue is difficult to live with and live through but it is even more challenging to explain to others. It is so much more than just being tired, even more than being exhausted, and unless you’ve experienced it for yourself; you can never fully understand what it is like to live through an intense-severe chronic fatigue flare. Still it is my hope that through this post you might be understand the illness a little better and have an ounce more empathy for those of us living with these debilitating invisible illnesses.

What is Chronic Fatigue?

According to Medical News Today...Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) is a condition of prolonged and severe tiredness or weariness. It is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other conditions. CFS is a syndrome of persistent incapacitating weakness or fatigue, accompanied by nonspecific symptoms, that lasts at least 6 months, and not attributable to any known cause.

To be diagnosed with this condition, tiredness must be severe enough to decrease an individual’s ability to participate in ordinary activities by 50 percent. Chronic fatigue syndrome is much more than just feeling tired often. People with CFS are so run down that it interferes with their lives and can make it hard to function at all.

What is A Chronic Fatigue Flare?

So take all the information above and multiply it times one hundred and you essentially have what a CFS flare is. “A flare is the worsening or exacerbation of symptoms that already exist,” says Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology, rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Patients use different time frames for what they consider a flare, but it’s generally several days or weeks of worsening symptoms. Anything shorter is considered normal waxing and waning of symptoms that someone with fibromyalgia can expect.”

When I’m in a fare I can literally sleep for 10-14 hours on end without let up. My entire body is weighed down and the entire experience is quite frightening. Imagine that someone has drugged you against your will and no matter how hard you try you simply cannot wake up.

Imagine that someone has drugged you against your will and no matter how hard you try you simply cannot wake up.

These sleep spells can last a few days, several days, or several weeks. Usually the sleep will let up slightly during the day to allow you to use the bathroom or maybe eat a bowl of cereal but for the most part any activity that requires any type of extensive brain or physical work

  • Cooking
  • Taking a shower
  • Doing laundry

are completely out of the question. At its worst, even getting out of the bed can literally takes hours upon hours. Other symptoms can include:

  • Internal fevers
  • Chills
  • Sweating spells
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea and more

But the #1 symptom is the exhaustion. Endless mind numbing exhaustion.

Getting out of the bed can literally takes hours upon hours.

So you seen CFS is no laughing matter. It is a real, tangible, debilitating illness that so far has o cure. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and I pray for the day that it will be a thing of the past. Until then I share my experiences, spread awareness, and take one day, one flare at a time.

To learn more about chronic fatigue click here

Source: Medical News Today

What Is A Typical Day Like for Someone Living with Chronic Pain

For those of you that wonder:

What is a typical day like for someone living with chronic pain?

Yesterday my friend Katie M. Golden published an article for online magazine The Mighty entitled “When Social Security Asked About My ‘Typical Day’ With Chronic Illness” in the article she perfectly sums up the imperfect world and typically non-typical day that those of us with chronic pain experience.

In her case the disease is chronic migraine and even though my disease is different the overall daily experience is quite similar. Katie was fortunate to get disability benefits which I was repeatedly denied. I was able to create my our atypical career.

Read her article and be sure to share and help us spread awareness for chronic pain conditions like chronic migraine. These illness are invisible but the pain is very real and very life altering.

Read the article here:

Katie is a professional patient, writer for, US Pain Ambassador, patient advocate, speaker, freelance writer, and blogger of

Visit US Pain Foundation to learn ways you can be an advocate for chronic pain

Fibromyalgia Sucks | Living with Fibromyalgia (REPOST)

The last few weeks have been a challenge to say the least. The arrival of spring always equals an increase in fatigue, pain, fog, and flares but this year seems to be hitting me harder than previous. Living in Upstate NY doesn’t”t help as our constantly changing weather only adds insult to the injury of living with fibromyagia.

Despite the never ending flares I’ve learned how to cope with and manage over long flares like the one I’m presently in. Still the post below that I shared back in December remains ever more appropriate. No matter how much you push, cope, think positively and carry on with being functional despite the flare, fibromyalgia sucks.

Photo credit: Fine Art America

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KNOWvember: Trigeminal Neuralgia | Living with Fibromyalgia

KNOWvember: Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) Type 1 (FACT #1)

Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) Type 1is characterized by sporadic, shock-like pain that can last for seconds to several hours. TN Type 2 is known for continuous crushing, burning pain. There are about 4 in every 100,000 individuals living with either form of TN.

Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) Type 1 is characterized by sporadic, shock-like pain that can last for seconds to several hours.

To learn more about this condition, visit:

Michaela O’Connor a U.S Pain Foundation Pain Ambassador lives with this debilitating illness.

To read about U.S. Pain’s Michaela O’Connor, who lives with TN, please visit:…/2013-pa…/michaela-oconnor/

#KNOWvember #TrigeminalNeuralgia #FacePain

Source: U.S Pain Foundation

U.S Pain Foundation’s KNOWvember Campaign | Living with Fibromyalgia

The Gluten Free Chef Blog Omnimedia, LLC & our brick and mortar headquarters 540WMain has partnered with the U.S. Pain Foundation for their KNOWvember campaign. KNOWvember is a month-long educational initiative focusing on all things chronic pain.

KNOWvember is a month-long educational initiative focusing on all things chronic pain.

Every day during the month of November, U.S. Pain is providing the nation with information about the complex disease of chronic pain. This year’s theme is Raising aRAREness.
The campaign will focus on types of rare diseases often misunderstood and not well-known. In addition, the organization will host various FREE webinars, Twitter chats and other virtual events. Registration information will be shared on our social media platforms as well as within its official eNewsletter.

U.S. Pain Foundation challenges EVERYONE to become more educated through #KNOWvember. Information is key to education, awareness, support and proper care!

Be sure to  LIKE, SHARE and RETWEET the daily posts and upcoming virtual offerings.
The fun begins today!

Let me know if you’re going to participate by commenting below with the hashtag #KNOWvember! Let me know why you are joining our educational campaign that focuses on rare diseases this year (in honor of a loved one, to increase your awareness efforts, etc.)