Is yoga a natural treatment for fibromyalgia? The pain, fatigue, depression, and anxiety that people with fibromyalgia suffer daily gradually take their toll on the body and spirit. Because of chronic pain, stiffness, and extreme fatigue, some people with fibromyalgia can’t work a regular job or even leave their home to run errands. More disturbingly, a study showed that fibromyalgia sufferers have a tenfold higher risk of suicide compared to the average population.
Can yoga help?
Effective pain reduction
Yes, it can. According to a recent study published in the journal Pain, taking part in a yoga program helps in the treatment of fibromyalgia pain. It also improves the overall mood and energy level specifically of women struggling with fibromyalgia symptoms.
Yoga for awareness
For two months, 53 adult women with fibromyalgia took part in a special yoga program called “Yoga for Awareness”. Each session lasted for two hours, consisting of 40 minutes of yoga stretching poses, 25 minutes of yoga-style meditation, and 10 minutes of deep-breathing exercises. Another 45 minutes were devoted to practicing yoga at home. The participants were taught how to use yoga principles to cope with stress and chronic pain.
The results were encouraging. Over half of the women who participated in the program experienced less pain and fatigue. They also reported fewer negative moods. In fact, the participants found they were generally more optimistic about their future after completing the program. A control group who took the same program had no change in their symptoms.
Fibromyalgia sufferers are often more socially isolated than healthy people because of their chronic pain. The “Yoga for Awareness” program helped the participants establish relationships with others who dealt with similar challenges.
A natural treatment
Studies show that yoga has potential for treating a variety of chronic pain disorders. The program used in this study is unique since it emphasises more than stretching poses and meditation. It also focuses on educating participants about the more effective ways to cope with the challenges brought about by fibromyalgia.
Many fibromyalgia sufferers fail to benefit from medications. Also, some of the drugs used to treat the symptoms of this condition bring side effects. (As of this writing, there is still no known drug that can directly treat fibromyalgia, not just its symptoms.)
Fortunately, yoga offers a natural treatment for fibromyalgia that can help both mind and body. Plus, it’s a gentle, low-impact way to introduce people with fibromyalgia to the benefits of exercise.
Of course, more research is needed. But based on this study, yoga looks like a promising natural treatment for fibromyalgia—one that’s safe for most people.
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