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The Use of Yoga to Manage Fibromyalgia Pain

written by: weborglodge • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 4/15/2011

Yoga for fibromyalgia offers a way to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms and provide relief from the pain caused by this chronic health condition. Yoga manages its symptoms on several fronts while providing other health benefits.

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    What Is Fibromyalgia?

    Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition which causes pain not unlike that of arthritis. The pain and symptoms vary among patients from a minor annoyance to severe pain which can interfere with everyday life. The exact cause is unknown. Patients experience pain throughout their bodies along with specific tender points such as the elbows, knees, and lower back.

    Some patients experience radiating pain or achiness. You may also feel fatigued or experience numbness or tingling sensations. The pain may last throughout your day or worsen in the evening hours.

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    How Yoga Helps

    yoga side angle pose Yoga offers a form of mind-body awareness in which your breathing guides you through the various poses. It is an excellent way to relieve stress which can exacerbate symptoms, explains Mayo Clinic. It also addresses specific tender points with targeted poses.

    For example, if you are plagued by back pain, you may find yoga poses such as the downward-facing dog, extended side angle pose, or cow pose therapeutic to gentle stretch these trouble spots. Likewise, poses such as the cow pose or cat pose may offer relief from neck pain associated with fibromyalgia. The beneficial thing about yoga for fibromyalgia is that you can customize a yoga practice to your specific needs.

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    Types of Yoga

    If your fibromyalgia pain is severe, you may want to stick with the gentler forms of yoga such as Hatha yoga or Viniyoga. These types of yoga are slower forms of exercise unlike the rapid sequence performed with other types of yoga including power yoga or Bikram yoga. These forms of yoga may not offer the same relief that other types of yoga offer.

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    Evidence in Support of Yoga

    Several studies have supported the use of yoga for fibromyalgia. A 2007 study by the University of São Paulo in Brazil found that participants experienced significantly less pain as based on scores from a Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) after eight weekly sessions of yoga. A 2010 study by the Oregon Health & Science University found similar evidence that regular yoga practice relieved pain and other symptoms as well as improving mood.

    At the very least, you may find relief simply from the stress reduction that yoga offers recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center. Breathing exercises, called pranayama, can bring about a sense of calm, which can also help lower your blood pressure. Not only does yoga offer a possible fibromyalgia treatment, it can also improve your overall health.

    While there may not be a cure for fibromyalgia, you can find ways to cope with your condition through treatments options such as yoga. With yoga, you can address your condition and build a practice to serve your particular needs.

    Photo by Aaron Neifer, stock.xchng

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    References

    J. Carson, et al. A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia. Pain, November 2010; 151(2):530-9.

    G. da Silva, et al. Effects of yoga and the addition of Tui Na in patients with fibromyalgia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, December 2007; 13(10):1107-13.

    Mayo Clinic: Stress Symptoms: Effects on Your Body, Feelings and Behavior mayoclinic.com

    University of Maryland Medical Center: Fibromyalgia umm.edu

    Yoga Journal: Therapeutic Poses yogajournal.com