Drugs alone are rarely enough to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but a variety of complementary approaches can help reduce pain and improve mental sharpness.
If you struggle with the most debilitating symptoms of fibromyalgia — pain, fatigue, and brain fog — and medication doesn’t bring relief, or not enough, it may be worth trying one or more complementary approaches, such as a form of movement therapy, mindfulness, dietary changes, or talk therapy.
“Experts say medication works in about 30 to 50 percent of fibromyalgia patients,” says Andrea Kane, senior medical editor at Arthritis Today, a magazine published by the Arthritis Foundation.
But even for this group, medication isn’t a cure. Fibromyalgia, she says, is a condition that responds better to a multipronged approach.
“You’ll get better results if you combine medication with other techniques,” Kane says.
The evidence on the effectiveness of nondrug approaches is too limited to indicate whether these approaches are more useful than others, though some studies have shown promising results, says Wendy Weber, PhD, MPH , acting deputy director at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
The good news is that the mind and body approaches studied by NCCIH, such as tai chi, yoga, meditation, and biofeedback, when done properly “have generally been found to have good safety records,” Dr. Weber says.