Biofeedback Health Solutions, LLC

                                   What’s New in Fibromyalgia Treatments
What is Fibromyalgia (FMS)
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, musculoskeletal, non-inflammatory pain disorder. It is estimated that approximately 6 million Americans, mostly women, live with this condition. Fibromyalgia is characterized by the presence of  pain above and below the beltline, as well as, widespread pain on both sides of the body for at least 3 months. If left untreated, it may lead to a significant impairment in patients' quality of life or even disability.​​

For those who suffer with FMS the symptoms are very familiar:

 * Sleep disturbances              * Loss of energy     * Difficulty concentrating, memory problems

 * Irritable bowel syndrome     * Arthritis                 * Bladder conditions
 * Reduced physical activity    * Depression           * Social withdrawal      
 * Excessive sweating             * Anxiety                  * Heightened sensitivity to touch

What Causes Fibromyalgia?
There is no singular cause for FMS. A number of theories have been suggested.

      >  Lower levels of a brain chemicals associated with a calming/reducing anxiety.
     > Reduced effectiveness of the body's natural endorphin painkillers
    > Increased "substance P" which amplifies pain signals.
    > Sudden trauma to the brain and spinal cord.  Stress

    >  Hormonal changes or menopause
    >  Low levels of human growth hormone.
    >  Poor physical conditioning
    > Muscle "micro-trauma" (very slight damage)
    > How the central nervous system processes pain.Imbalance in autonomic nervous system

    >Hormonal changes or menopause

    > Low levels of human growth hormone.
    >  Poor physical conditioning
    > Muscle "micro-trauma" (very slight damage)
    > How the central nervous system processes pain.

    > Imbalance in autonomic nervous system

Common Non-Drug Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Due to the complex nature of chronic pain, successful treatment usually requires a multi-method approach, which has been found to provide superior outcomes when compared to single therapy approaches. A combination of medication and nondrug therapies is the best management approach. Among non-drug options the following therapies should be considered:

Exercise: Importance of including exercise, such as walking and Tai Chi, in the treatment of FM cannot be over emphasized. Activity is known to reduce pain

Massage: Pain, depression, use of analgesics and quality of life is temporarily improved.  Individuals who have skin sensitivity to touch (related to a lack of restorative sleep) will most likely want to defer massage until their condition improves.

Acupuncture:  Traditional Chinese practitioners theorize that the points connect with energy conducting meridians, affecting spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance of the opposing forces of yin and yang.

Stress management: Health counseling and relaxation techniques are likely to be helpful for FM symptoms. Techniques include, but are not limited to, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, guided imagery, “mindfulness” and meditation.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies: The way we think about things affects how we feel emotionally. Cognitive therapy focuses on present thinking, behavior, and communication rather than on past experiences and is oriented toward problem solving

Behavior therapy: Behavior focused therapies for fibromyalgia include activity pacing (not over doing it on days patients feel good and remaining active on days they feel bad), sleep hygiene (identifying then changing behaviors known to disrupt sleep), and learning relaxation techniques to lower stress.

New Non-Drug Treatments for FMS
We are learning more each day about how the mind affects the body and how the body affects how we think and feel.  New biofeedback technologies take advantage of this relationship.

Biofeedback is a self-regulation method for learning to control a body function that is not normally under conscious control, such as your skin temperature, heart rate, respirations, muscle tension, brainwaves, and skin moisture. The measurements are “fed back” to you in the form of visual and audio displays. This information can help you become more aware of how your body reacts in certain situations as well as enhancing efforts to relax.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback is a useful treatment for fibromyalgia.  Evidence suggests that the autonomic nervous system in some FM patients is out of balance. In HRV biofeedback patients learn to balance their autonomic nervous system.

EEG Biofeedback (Neurofeedback) is a learning strategy that assists people to alter their brainwaves to help focus their attention/improve your cognitive function          

Audio and Audio-Visual Entrainment uses specifically coordinated rhythmic light and sound tones to guide the brain into improved states of brainwave activity.

HEG (hemoencephalography) is a fairly new neurofeedback technique to enhance blood flow to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of the brain, which is often diminished in fibromyalgia.


  • Hassett, A. and Gevirtz, R. (2009). Nonpharmacologic Treatment for Fibromyalgia: Patient Education, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Relaxation Techniques, and Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Rheum Dis Clin North Am.; 35(2): 393–407.
  • National Institute for Arthritis NIAMS health info/fibromyalgia/#b
  • Fut. Rheumatol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2009 Nov 3.
  • Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • University of Maryland:


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