Complementary Providers and Fibromyalgia

Complementary Providers and Fibromyalgia

Complementary providers offer alternative therapies for fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disease that is often difficult to treat. Patients with this condition can have a variety of symptoms with no known cause. Primary care physicians often work in conjunction with complementary providers due to the success of alternative therapies.

If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may benefit from alternative therapies. These treatments do not involve the use of surgery or medications. Alternative therapies have fewer side effects than traditional medical treatments for fibromyalgia syndrome.


Studies reveal that acupuncture is an effective method for treating fibromyalgia pain. Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Oriental Medicine. The practitioner will insert an acupuncture needle into certain points along the body’s ‘meridians’. Acupuncture will stimulate the flow of energy in the body and restore the body’s ‘qi’ to its natural balance.

Acupuncture as a treatment for fibromyalgia should be repeated several times a month. A Mayo Clinic Study found that acupuncture can significantly improve the symptoms of the disease, including chronic pain, fatigue, and anxiety[1]


Biofeedback is a form of alternative treatment that educates patients on how to manage chronic pain. Fibromyalgia sufferers are trained to utilize signals from their body to lessen their symptoms.

Complementary providers who use biofeedback use sensitive machines that can detect a patient’s inner bodily functions. For example, these machines can ‘hear’ what is going on inside the muscles and translate this information into signals the patient can detect. The signal may be a flashing light bulb or a beeper that goes off if a muscle tenses. The patient can attempt to relax the muscle by slowing down the beeper or the flashing of the light bulb.


Gaining ground as an alternative treatment for fibromyalgia is hypnosis. Fibromyalgia patients utilize hypnosis to conquer their pain mentally.

Hypnosis is considered an altered state of consciousness. The patient is not awake or asleep. Providers call this state of mind a trance during which the patient can free his or her mind from the five senses. Fibromyalgia patients report being successfully hypnotized and seeing results with their first visit. Multiple sessions are recommended for continued management of fibromyalgia pain.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a common alternative therapy suggested by primary care providers for fibromyalgia patients. Chiropractic care is a holistic treatment and does not utilize drugs or surgery in reducing pain at the tender points located throughout the body.

A chiropractor focuses on the spine. The underlying belief of chiropractic care is that problems with the neuromusculoskeletal system hampers the body’s functioning and leads to chronic pain and problems such as fibromyalgia. To treat fibromyalgia, the chiropractor will make adjustments to the spine. In addition, he or she will address overall health issues including diet, exercise, heredity, environment, and lifestyle factors.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often the first alternative therapy of primary care physicians for their fibromyalgia patients. Medications help fibromyalgia manage their symptoms but physical therapy will allow a patient’s body to begin to heal.[2]

The benefits of physical therapy as an alternative therapy for fibromyalgia syndrome are numerous. They include:[3]

  • Reduced pain
  • Improved mood
  • More restive sleep
  • Less fatigue
  • Less stiffness and sore muscles

A physical therapist will work with fibromyalgia patients to build strength in their muscles, increase their flexibility, increase their range of motion, and improve their posture. Physical therapy sessions include therapeutic exercises, ultrasound, massage therapy, joint mobilization, and electrical stimulation.

Relaxation Therapy

Relaxation therapy trains fibromyalgia patients to relax muscles. Patients work with a trained practitioner and learn a specific sequence designed to treat fibromyalgia syndrome.

The sequence involves a series of tightening and relaxing certain muscles. For example, patients may be asked to tense a certain group of muscles and hold for five seconds. They would then move to another group of muscles and repeat the action.

Relaxation therapy also involves breathing techniques and stretching. Fibromyalgia patients report feeling totally relaxed and rejuvenated after sessions.

Complementary providers offer excellent pain management options for fibromyalgia patients. If you are considering complementary care it is important to speak with your primary care physician to determine if you have any current health restrictions. Your primary care physician can work in conjunction with your complementary provider to give you the best care.


[1] Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Institute of Health:

[2] Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Scandinavian Journal of Health:

[3] Ibid

This article was originally published on July 11, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/7/2015