Yoga for Neck Headaches in Fibromyalgia

Recently I’ve come across many people who, like myself, struggle with headaches caused by neck (and shoulder) tension. Specifically from trigger points.

A few of the members in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team expressed avid interest in yoga for neck headaches when I mentioned it there.

So I shared my routine – what I have been doing to manage neck-caused headaches. This routine is the further development of one I was already doing to manage between physiotherapy appointments. When, all of a sudden, I was stuck at home with three small children, a new job that required me on the computer for 20 hours per week and no access to physiotherapy – I had to step it up in order to cope.

My team loved it.

So I created a 10 minute version for you all to try.

Yoga for Neck Headaches Video

Please remember that, no matter how gentle the sequence, you do need to be cleared to exercise by your medical team. Move mindfully and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

We utilise gentle yoga, breathing and meditations in this practice (and all of my practices).

Other articles that may help you

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points and Fibromyalgia

Restorative Yoga, the Central Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

Micro Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Let me know, how did you find it? What do you do for headaches caused by upper body muscle tension and trigger points?

This is just one of the ways in which I am making practical tools for my members to help them in their journey. If you want to join us – you can do so in the Yoga for the Chronic Life virtual studio here.

yoga for a neck headache
yoga for a neck headache

My Favourite Yoga Poses for Fibromyalgia

Let’s talk about my favourite yoga poses for fibromyalgia. As a yoga practitioner and a teacher I have a few poses I come back to again and again in mine and my student’s toolkit.

These are great standalone poses that have a prominent place in my toolkit and my students are loving these too.

Some of my favourite yoga tools for fibromyalgia

As you can likely tell, there are a multitude of tools on offer from the yoga toolkit and I use many. It is hard to narrow it down so in this post, I share just six.

Supported childs pose

My favourite version of this pose is supported child’s pose, but even usual child’s pose is a great restful pose. It gently stretches the lower back and shoulders (if you take it extended). Placing your forehead on the ground will calm you down. This pose comes from restorative yoga, a lovely, gentle yoga style that is great for calming the nervous system.

legs on a chair for fibromyalgia

This is such a great introductory restorative pose. One prop required. It is very calming and can be replicated with pillows/cushions/an ottoman, anything to raise those legs a little. Relieving pressure in our legs can be a nice bonus here. Place your neck on a flat pillows/cushion/folded towel if you find it uncomfortable.

cat and cow for fibromyalgia

While they are stand alone poses, I like them together, they are the perfect counter pose to each other and a great way to mobilize the back and neck. I use this regularly throughout the day. Not only does the physical movement help my body but matching the movement to my breath and moving mindfully helps my mind. It’s calming and relaxing.

forward fold for fibromyalgia

Forward bend is so great for a gentle neck and back stretch (as well as the hamstrings). I was using it for gentle neck tractions between physiotherapy appointments before I knew what I was doing (using yoga as tools).

Other posts of interest

Yoga for Fibromyalgia Giant Post

Micro Yoga for Fibromyalgia

Restorative Yoga, the Central Nervous System and Fibromyalgia

What does it mean to “do” yoga

eagle pose for fibromyalgia

Eagle is really great for helping out the upper back (a key problem area for fibromyalgia, desk workers and almost everyone). In Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue we work through this pose as a journey because there is so much space in this pose for us to grow.

This is great if you’re not getting onto the floor and want to stretch your lower back. You could use this as a standalone pose, as part of a sequence before bed, in bed and first thing in the morning.

So these are my favourite poses for fibromyalgia. What are yours?

We talk Yoga for Fibromyalgia in my very special free webinar

  • Benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia
  • Myth busting
  • Answering your top questions
  • What about the pregnant fibromyalgia fighter?
  • Yoga as tools
  • My favourite tools
  • and more!

How Micro Yoga Helps Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Plus Your Toolkit

Micro yoga is such a good tool for managing chronic pain and fatigue. The benefits of yoga are continually being proven in research, especially for chronic symptoms. I want to share what micro yoga is, how micro yoga helps me as a mama with chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia and tiny children and how you can use the tools too.

how micro yoga can help chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia

What is micro yoga?

It is simply yoga that is not a traditional length or what we typically (in the west) think of as “yoga”.

I literally do 5-30 minute snippets at a time. As a person with chronic symptoms I find it much better to do 10 minutes regularly than one hour once a week.

I’d take it one step further and call my yoga super accessible micro yoga. When done right, yoga is super accessible for us and what we need.

What does this look like?

  • Five minutes of asana (stretches) when I am getting dressed.
  • A random pose to help my back when it is feeling tight during the day.
  • Five minutes of breathing when I am feeling overwhelmed.
  • 30 minute meditation after lunch.
  • 10 minute body scan relaxation before bed.
  • A restorative yoga pose on my bed during a flare.

How can we use it?

Micro yoga can be one or two poses that you use as needed. Or a more formal practice on the mat for 5-45 minutes. It could even be a breathing break or rest guided meditation.

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Rachel Scott is a yoga teacher who gets it. In her book Little Book of Yoga Practices: Daily Relaxation, One Asana at a Time (2019) she talks about micro practice:

“By weaving micro practices into your everyday life, you will:
Cultivate a consistent yoga routine that won’t overwhelm your busy schedule
Have the tools to reset your mood and energy with just a few breaths
Feel empowered by the quality of your self-care
Recognize that small acts can make a major difference in your physical and
mental health.”

I use micro yoga as part of my toolkit for managing pain and fatigue.

Where do we learn it?

Rachel’s cute book has some great micro practices to try. I was given a complimentary copy by the author. I also got a copy of her latest book Yoga to Stay Young: Simple Poses to Keep You Flexible, Strong and Pain-Free – which I absolutely adore. Both are great guidebooks to keep on hand.

You might like the targeted stretches section starting pg 65. The best part of The Little Book of Yoga Practices is the succinctly described pose section. You can see what resonates and try one or two at a time.

The one minute miracles section is a gold mine! Pg 82

Rachel might not specialise in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue but her books are great resources when you are trying to build a micro yoga practice. And the size of The Little Book of Yoga Practices means it isn’t going to be hard on the old brain fog to get through, it is succinct and easy to follow.

Your Toolkit

Join the free workshop Yoga for Fibromyalgia where I we talk through the myths, the benefits, my favourite poses and more.

Would you like to try a relaxing pose right now? Here you go…

Legs on the cushions is a super accessible pose with a short guided relaxation you can do this on your bed!!

Would you like access to premium information, tools, support AND a yoga library designed especially for fibromyalgia? Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Membership Team is ready for you. Join us today to grab your spot.

What Does it Mean to “Do” Yoga, What Can it Look Like?

I am super passionate about sharing the tools yoga offers with people with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia. The thing that often gets in the way is what people think it means to “do” yoga.

Today I am going to share with you all sorts of raw pictures of me “doing” yoga because I want you to start to get a sense of the fact that “yoga” has been usurped by the perfect poses on Instagram. If you have a teacher who gets your situation, then they can help you adapt yoga to your needs.

A visual representation of the below points:

  • Yoga can be adapted for almost anybody (if you have been cleared to move gently and the teacher “gets” your needs)
  • Breathing is a central part of yoga (and many of us don’t do it optimally)
  • Meditation is my favourite part of yoga (yoga Nidra guided meditation is my jam, I do it in bed with my heat pack)
  • You can do one pose
  • I have several poses I enacted whenever I need them during the day
  • Chair yoga is a great way to make yoga more accessible
  • You can do yoga in bed
  • Classes can be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes or more
  • You don’t need to be super bendy, in fact, I am not

For the benefits of yoga, why I do it and more check out my post about Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue here.

Breathing

Me simply breathing, in hero pose (with a baby about to climb on my back, life). Breathing is one of the most accessible parts of yoga and really helps me to calm down when feeling overwhelmed.

A little more challenging

Me at the very beginning preparation phase of maybe one day doing crow pose (where you lift your feet off the ground)

Relaxation and meditation

This is the final relaxation of many classes, or an excellent standalone pose. This is complete rest. You can add all sorts of things to make it more comfortable, usually I have a blanket or cushion under my legs to help my low back.

If you are curious about restorative yoga (a passive, very gentle practice) then come and check out this free workshop Restorative Yoga for the Chronic Life.

restorative yoga for the chronic life

One that can be done in bed

You can do this on your bed (I like to do it as part of my bedtime routine)

A multi use tool

I am known to do this pose all the time. It is child’s pose, it rests the lower back and calms the mind. You can do it facing up on your bed (hugging your knees), with a bolster between your legs under your chest/abdomen to make it restorative. When the kids are overwhelming me or I’m feeling really tired, then I’ll drop where I am and do it. Often the kids follow!

Adapting to my needs

Using a block to bring the ground closer to me. I am not super bendy!

#notabouttheperfectpose

This is my son doing this pose not at all correctly but he is enjoying it and not in danger of hurting himself so I encourage him to play with me when I do yoga.

Using the chair

Me doing a chair sequence. I love using a chair because it means I don’t have to get on the floor. It also means I can do some of the poses in the car when I am not feeling so nice and on the edge of my bed if I am awake in the night.

My all time favourite that can be done almost anywhere

Me doing seated cat and cow – I do cat and cow all the time, in my favourite chair, on the side of the bed, in the car, on the floor and in my classes

I hope this gave you a sense of how “yoga” can look and hopefully hope that, if you want to, you could try it in one way or another.

Show me how yours looks

In Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue, I have students who take one or two of the poses in the opening module and use those as a “class” to start. There are two full class options in module three, chair and a flow class. Many students choose only the chair class.

For the first time I’m in a yoga class that I feel like I’m actually going to get it…I really can do this and I love how it feels.”

– Student of Foundations of Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue

I’d love to see how your yoga looks. Comment below, tag me on Instagram @melissanreynolds

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge
Join us for the FREE five minutes a day for five days yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge – it’s open now for you to see how you could “do” yoga.

How to Spend Less on Physical Treatments for Chronic Pain and Decrease Your Pain at the Same Time

I ask group members regularly what topics they would like me to share about, “how to save money on physical therapies” was the top request on the last post where I asked for suggestions. So here I share how you can spend less money on physical treatments for chronic pain and strategies for decreasing your pain at the same time.

What a whopper! As soon as I read the comment, I was formulating ideas. As a person who has tried physiotherapists (many different ones), Eastern practitioners, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, personal trainers (who did not get it) and more, I know the costs involved here. We run a public system here in New Zealand so none of these private physical treatments are funded at all.

When I was at my worst I was going weekly, paying $50 or $60 a session to very little benefit. As I have finally put these things into place I have reduced to three or four weekly – this is a saving of $150-200 per month! That adds up!

These are the things that you can do to reduce the amount of treatments you need from physical therapists (physiotherapists, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, etc.). If they are not necessarily easy, when are they ever?

The four ways of how to spend less on physical treatments for chronic pain

1. Remove or reduce the things that perpetuate the physical issue the physiotherapist/massage therapist/chiropractor etc. has to work on.

This might be a tough one as you may not be willing or able to do the things. For example, working full-time on a computer really exacerbates my neck and shoulders. I cannot, no matter the steps I take to mitigate it, experience less pain and keep doing it. Do you engage in something that aggravates your tricky spots? Is your bed and pillow correct for your needs? Check your breathing!

Let yourself brainstorm as there might be lots of things that come up.

2. Work on the whole of life things

So a lot of our physical issues are related to our overall health. When the fibromyalgia was worse, I needed to see the physical therapists for in search of relief (which never came).

When I changed my entire life – reducing work hours, cutting my commute, moving to a warmer climate, learning to rest (and later meditate), gentle exercise (which for me meant cutting back!) etc. – the amount I needed to see the physical reduced.

3. Finding the right treatment

This alone halved how often I had to go. For severe, recurrent trigger points in my neck – for which I’ve spent at least $1500 per year for over 10 years trying to get some relief from – I have the right practitioner and treatment at last. It’s a physiotherapist who places acupuncture needles into the trigger point, leaves it to relax and then performs gentle traction and stretches. The amount of time and money I spent on massage therapists, physiotherapists, osteopathy and chiropractic is insane.

Ask yourself, does that massage or chiropractic session actually help enough to justify the cost? Does the benefit hold long enough to be justifiable?

4. Learn to do things yourself

This might be the most important and the easiest!

For me, this is copious amounts of stretching/yoga.

You can learn about yoga for fibromyalgia in my free workshop! We look at commonly asked questions, myths, my favourite poses, the benefits and more.

for the first time i feel like i can do yoga

Meditation is also helpful, especially guided meditations for pain relief and relaxation. You’ve heard me talk about this for years. Insight timer free app.

I also use a Theracane trigger point massager and foam roller. You could self-massage or buy a personal massage aid. This post talks about inexpensive items I use to fight chronic pain.

Always ask a practitioner you see to give you suggestions for things you can do at home and DO them.

So these are my top four ways to spend less on physical treatments (and reduce your pain at the same time). Are you working on any of these areas? What is your favourite way to cope with physical pain?

Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue

I have been dabbling with yoga for chronic pain and fatigue for more than 10 years. For the past five I have progressively become more enamoured with it.

In this post I will share some research, the benefits (in brief), the thing I love most about yoga, it’s multiple uses for chronic pain and fatigue, specific ways I use it, and how you can learn more about incorporating it into your well being journey.

Let’s be clear right out of the gate. Yoga is not a panacea. It is not a cure all. It is one useful tool that can be a part of a holistic plan for wellness.

yoga for fibromyalgia infographics

Type “yoga for fibromyalgia” or “yoga for myofascial pain syndrome” or “yoga for pain” etc. And you will find a wealth of search options to delve into.

There is research specifically for using poses for myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and more. Taking a more macroscopic view, mindfulness for chronic illness is just as much of a buzz topic at the moment.

Research around Yoga, Pain and Fatigue

Take this 2010 study that found, “pain was reduced in the yoga group by an average of 24 percent, fatigue by 30 percent and depression by 42 percent.” The yoga group participated in a holistic program for eight weeks – gentle yoga poses, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga-based coping instructions, group discussions and a daily diary assessing their progress. The control group received standard medication treatments.

This was followed up three months later: “Follow-up results showed that patients sustained most of their post treatment gains, with the FIQR (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Revised) Total Score remaining 21.9% improved at 3 months. Yoga practice rates were good, and more practice was associated with more benefit for a variety of outcomes.”

This study was small, just eight participants completed the study on the effect of yoga on myofascial pain syndrome in the neck. It comprised two weeks of breathing and relaxation practices and two weeks of asanas (poses), breathing and relaxation. The poses were Trikonasan (triangle pose), Tadasan (mountain pose), Vakrasan (twisted pose), Balasan (child’s pose) and Vajrasan (thunderbolt pose).

However, let’s not lose sight here – Vajrasan is a more advanced pose, the ability to do this pose indicates a pretty high level of physical ability to me.

The results were that this program “led to significant improvement in the quality of health, physical capacity (strength), cervical range of motion, and pressure threshold of the trigger points, and decreased the disability and pain.”

Perspectives on Yoga Inputs in the Management of Chronic Pain describes the benefits: “This consists of decreased metabolism,[24] decreased rate of breathing, decreased blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, decreased heart rate and increased slow brain [alpha] waves.[25] As the neural discharge pattern gets corrected, the habitual deep muscle hyper tonicity and thus the static load on postural muscle also slowly come down. The function of viscera improves with the sense of relaxation and sleep gets deeper and sustained. The fatigue level comes down.”

woman doing yoga

Benefits of yoga for chronic pain and fatigue (or anyone)


• calms the autonomic nervous system
• help with sleep
• reduced fatigue
• reduced pain
• increased physical capacity
• decreased myofascial pain
• less anxiety
• reduced depression
• relaxation
• mindfulness of movement
• awareness of proper alignment

What I love the most about yoga for managing chronic pain and fatigue:

Ease of adapting to my current abilities -Whatever my symptom level on any given day there is an option for me to practice yoga.

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue picture of toolkit

Let’s talk a couple of key things here:
Yoga is a tool, a multi use tool, but a tool nonetheless. I will use any tool at my disposal to help with the symptoms I live with. In much the same way I use low dose naltrexone- it was not designed for fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome but it helps anyway.

If some parts of the spectrum of yoga practices don’t resonate with you, ignore them. If you want to look at it as a purely physical practice, then do so.

In terms of the spiritual side, I shy away from much if it. My belief practice is Christianity and I have never felt a conflict. In fact, there is a great Christian yoga channel on YouTube.

Some of the options in yoga

Asanas (poses): one or two gentle poses (like child’s pose and forward bend), a flowing sequence of 5, 10, 20 or more minutes, chair yoga, bed yoga or restorative yoga.

Pranayama (breathing): breathing is always useful when you are managing a chronic illness. Simply focusing on your breath and helping your exhale to be slightly longer than your inhale will cause a relaxation effect. Breathing through pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and overwhelm can help centre your thoughts on something else, release tension and help to ease the symptoms. Synchronising movements with the breath makes you more likely to be mindful of your movement and less likely to overdo it or injure yourself.

Meditation: I began using meditation specifically to achieve rest where sleep provided little. It was a means to an immediate end. After a few years I realised it was helping me much more profoundly in the form of turning down my central nervous system overdrive. There is nothing better than the comfort I feel after a 20 or 30 minute yoga nidra meditation. I cannot achieve it another way.

Day to day my practice changes but I usually practice in one way or another.

Meditation is my top tool for managing fatigue and pain. I very rarely miss my daily meditation.

I have never completed a 60 or 90 minute class or resembled a pretzel in any way. Because that is not the point.

Strengthening, calming, being mindful and moving is.

When my first son was young I had a yoga instructor come to my house for a private session to ensure my posture was correct and craft a sun salutation sequence suitable for my physical abilities at the time.

Sometimes I do the sequence with several breaths for each pose, one breath for each pose or a mix. If I feel a particular benefit from one of the poses I will engage in that one longer. Forward bend is a particularly good one for letting the neck gently stretch.

Cat and cow pose is a great tiny sequence for the pelvis and back. I did this multiple times a day during my pregnancies. I teach cat and cow pose in my free challenge, Five Minutes a Day for Five Days Challenge, sign up here.

When my pelvis was unstable due to pregnancy and I could hardly walk, I could still do half sun salutations (standing) or chair salutations.

The key is to be mindful of your body on any given day. Pay attention to what you need and can reasonably do.

Learn the many options- these tools have a place in our natural pain relief toolkit.

The complexity in yoga for chronic pain and fatigue

When we have extra challenges to think through, we need to be extra mindful. 

There is some complexity involved in practicing yoga when you have chronic issues. This is why it can be helpful to see a teacher privately – either for some initial guidance or ongoing personalised work. 

There are several types of yoga, many asana (poses) to choose from and we need to choose sequences that make sense for our current context. The other bonus is that you can create a homework plan so that you can continue your work between sessions, equipping you further.

As an example of the complexity – I have severe, recurring trigger points in my neck and shoulders. Holding poses that activate these muscles for up to five minutes (yin yoga) is not a good idea for me. I have a heat intolerance so hot yoga isn’t for me. The fibromyalgia and poor tense fascia responds well when given a chance to gently release.  So I gravitate toward slow flow and gentle yoga. 

I trained to be a yoga teacher because I got so frustrated with doing “beginner” classes that we out of my reach physically and for the time frame. I also wanted to share these tools to show you that “yoga” doesn’t mean 90 minute classes getting into very bendy positions. 

This is also why I created the below challenge!

Learn how we can use the tools of yoga in just five minutes a day?

Join us for the challenge!

yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge
Join us for the FREE five minutes a day for five days yoga for chronic pain and fatigue challenge

Join us for five minutes per day for five days and see how the tools of yoga might be of service to you.

I’d love to hear from you – have you found benefit from any of the tools of yoga? 

Yoga for Chronic Fatigue: A Book Review

It isn’t a secret that I adore yoga and meditation as tools for managing the chronic fatigue and pain associated with fibromyalgia.

I read and reviewed Kayla’s first book Yoga for Chronic Pain and loved it, so I was super excited to read her second book Yoga for Chronic Fatigue.

Yoga for chronic fatigue book review

In the first part Kuran explains chronic fatigue, the part the central nervous system is theorized to play and how the parasympathetic nervous system can help:

“When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, you’ll notice
that:

Digestion improves

Your muscles relax

Your heart rate slows down

You can breathe deeper” part one understanding chronic fatigue syndrome

Interestingly after years practicing my meditation and yoga I have noticed all of these benefits in my daily life – particularly improved digestion and relaxed muscles.

In part three, The Yogic View of Chronic Fatigue, we are introduced to Ayurveda and yoga’s holistic view of health.

Kuran explains complex ideas with clean, concise language such as the theory of the central nervous system’s part in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and yogic components such as Ayurveda.

Step three goes through mindfulness as a tool for healing. (Which I am super passionate about!)

Step four discusses using the breath as an energy source, “Pranayama can increase your fitness and energy levels – without getting out of bed!”

Step five is the actual yoga! Kuran provides a more active routine, a gentle restorative routine and discusses yoga Nidra.

“Like other forms of meditation, yoga Nidra helps release serotonin and decrease cortisol which lowers your stress response.” I adore yoga Nidra and it’s a vital part of my coping when I’m tired, especially when I have tiny babies and am not sleeping much at night – so I always enjoy learning more about it.

I loved the suggestion that even in a flare up we can do yoga. Practicing yoga doesn’t mean a big routine or even physical movement – Kuran points out that even visualizing yourself doing yoga poses can be useful. A breathing practice while lying in bed is sufficient. This makes yoga such a useful tool for those fighting chronic fatigue – its adaptability.

If you enact the action points suggested at the end of each step you will be a long way toward a holistic healing process.

I highly recommend this book and yoga if you struggle with chronic fatigue.

Get your reading on

Purchase your copy from Amazon here. (Affiliate link: Please note that if you make a purchase using my link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you).

If you love reading like me try Amazon Kindle Unlimited Membership – you can try your first month free and access unlimited reading or listening on any device! They now have magazines too! It’s also available for those of us who use Amazon.com.au *squee*.

If audio books are more your speed, as they are for me with three little ones, you know you can get a free trial of Audible on Amazon here. I’ve recently started reading a lot more audio books as the hands free option is far easier to access with the wee ones. You will get access to two audio books, plus two Audible Originals, and other cool membership options for 30 days. Cancel anytime if you don’t want the full subscription.

Yoga for chronic fatigue

See my review of Kayla’s first book!

Join us for this special course to utilise mindfulness and meditation in your journey.

Mindfulness for the chronic life

My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia

There are a lot of treatment options for fibromyalgia, but no sure fire fixes. So what are my top three treatments to fight fibroyalgia? Let’s delve in!

If you’ve been fighting fibromyalgia for any amount of time, you likely know there’s a multitude of therapies to try and that there’s rarely one magic bullet.

Fibromyalgia is an illness of unknown origin or cure and there are debates as to whether it will eventually be classed as autoimmune and/or progressive.

3-6% of the world’s population is has a vested interest in finding a cure. Until then we can only try to wade through the treatment options to try.
top treatments to fight fibromyalgia
 
My posts about other treatment options
 
Today I’m sharing my top three treatments to fight Fibromyalgia- as a person who’s been fighting it for more than a decade, who’s been researching for several years and who wrote a book about all I do to thrive despite this illness.
affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using one of these links I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Every bit helps me provide these resources.

1. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

This was something I found back in 2015 and followed the research for some time before I asked my doctor to try it. As I documented in the posts linked below, I began in April 2017. It took nine months for effect and now I can’t be without it.LDN, Fibromyalgia and Me

My One Year Low Dose Naltrexone for Fibromyalgia Experiment

It is not a magic fix for me but the results are astounding. You see, for more than 10 years I hadn’t slept well (read: in one hour blocks with great difficulty, every night was a fight) and the LDN actually helped me to sleep in two, three or four hour blocks. This is miraculous for me and I believe the sleep is what helped the rest. Read the above posts for the full experiment and outcome. What I love most about this medicine is that it is not a typical medicine and does not have any of the nasty side effects that most medicines prescribed for Fibromyalgia have. The worst I experienced was vivid dreams when I was titrating up to find my ideal dose. It essentially tricks the body into producing more endorphins, there is research theorizing that people with Fibromyalgia suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency. I believe it took nine months for me to see effect because my body was slowly healing from a deep sleep deprivation behind the scenes. This leads me to believe that LDN may be the only way to address an insufficiency that currently has no other satisfactory treatment option. I certainly prefer it to pain killers that have many negative effects and few positive ones.

2. Heat

If I had to choose one heat treatment, it’d be my heat pack. I use it first thing in the morning to get going, a couple of times during the day, in the evening and when I get into bed. It’s my go-to treatment. I use it mostly for my neck, but I also use it for the symphysis pubis disorder I experience in pregnancy. I also use:

Heat is one of my top five listed natural treatment options.  

3. Yoga/Meditation

Meditation is part of yoga, so it may be cheating to name both, if you really want one it’d be a hard call, but yoga would win and only because LDN helps me to sleep at night.

Yoga is a multi-use tool. I adore the ability to mold it to what I need: one pertinent stretch or pose (cat and cow all the time), a few poses to hit one issue (cat and cow, forward bend and eagle for the back) or a full flowing sequence (sun salutations).   It’s stretching, strengthening and calming for the central nervous system. Meditation has been a lifesaver since I realised I could experience deep rest to help counteract the lack of sleep. The effects have been profound and I share that in my post about meditation. I am so passionate about it that I incorporate mindfulness and meditation into my coaching programmes and offer one off sessions to teach meditation.  

Come and join the free Yoga for Chronic Pain and Fatigue challenge here.

So here are my top three plus ways to fight Fibromyalgia

  1. Low Dose Naltrexone
  2. Heat
    1. Heatpack
    2. Electric blanket
    3. Hot bath
    4. Hot shower
    5. Deep Heat rub
  3. Yoga/Meditation

What are yours?


Do you enjoy this work? Want to help me ensure people with fibromyalgia receive the tools, encouragement and hope that they deserve? When you join the team to support my work in the pay what you can (starting at just $5 per month) Melissa vs Fibromyalgia membership you will immediately access an exclusive members library of resources and tools.

Yoga for Chronic Pain by Kayla Kurin Book Review

“Yoga and meditation led me to a new way of thinking about my body and about what the worlds ‘illness’ and ‘health’ mean. It gave me the tools I needed to manage my pain and fatigue, and live a full life, even when I wasn’t feeling my best. Eventually, it led to my full recovery.” – Kayla Kuran, Yoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery from Fibromyalgia with Yoga.
If you’ve been following my work for any amount of time you’ll know I’m obsessed with yoga and meditation.
Yoga is a multi use tool for strength and pain management. Meditation is my favourite tool for deep rest and pain relief and has decreased my funky fight or flight response.
Yoga for Chronic Pain Book Review image
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As soon as I heard about Kayla Kuran’s book Yoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery from Fibromyalgia with Yoga, I was like “Me! Me! Pick me!” And Kayla kindly sent me a copy.
The book begins with Kayla’s journey and how yoga helped her on her journey to wellness.

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Step one invites you to learn about your pain.
Here we learn the difference between acute and chronic pain and how chronic pain affects the autonomic nervous system.
There’s a good action point here – start a journal and track your symptoms and what the context was to catch the patterns.
Step two delves into the science of yoga.
Here we learn about the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and how it helped Kayla on her journey. Ayurveda provides a more individualized answer for us and is holistic in nature.
Step three is all about taming the mind through mindfulness.
Here I found the answer as to why meditating instead of attempting to nap (and getting frustrated about being unable to) – because I’m focusing on what I can control (practicing meditation) and not on what I can’t (sleep). The frustration is secondary and controllable. The sleep is primary and not in my control.
Kayla provides five ways to use meditation. And encourages us to set a mindful goal for your pain management plan. Something we can control (like meditating instead of napping, doing some breathing practice before bed).
Step four using breath as am energy source and takes you through some options for practice. Here she talks about Yoga Nidra guided meditation which I adore for coping with sleep deprivation.
Step five yoga postures to relieve pain – this is the jam!
“Yoga and meditation help rewire the brain. In yoga we call this namaskar, and in the scientific world, it’s called neuroplacticity.” 
There are two practices offered – a morning flow and an evening restorative and both are just lovely. There is also guidance for making a flare up plan that involves yoga.
Step six self care – this includes yogic self care such as massage, meditation and following your passions. There’s also some good tips for getting sleep and for reorienting how you think about sleep.
Step seven invites us to take mindfulness into daily life.
If you enact the actions Kayla provides, you will certainly be on a positive step on your way to fighting Fibromyalgia.
You can get your copy of Yoga for Chronic Pain here.

Nerdy note:

If you read a lot, like me (I read around 100 books per year), then you might like Amazon Kindle Unlimited! Just sign up here. Amazon Kindle Unlimited gives you unlimited reading (say what?) and unlimited listening to their audio books. If brain fog is an issue and you need to re read over again, it’s all there. Happy reading! It’s also available for those of us who use Amazon.com.au *squee*.

 

If audio books are more your speed, as they are for me with three little ones, you know you can get a free trial of Audible on Amazon here. I’ve recently started reading a lot more audio books as the hands free option is far easier to access with the wee ones. You will get access to two audio books, plus two Audible Originals, and other cool membership options for 30 days. Cancel anytime if you don’t want the full subscription.


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Sign up to my free eCourse You vs Fibromyalgia

 

You can find my book, which is everything I know and do to fight Fibromyalgia, including yoga and meditation here:

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book cover

Yoga for Fibromyalgia with Handy Links

Given that I have a lot going on between two tiny children, a shift-working husband, starting part-time work again soon, living with a chronic illness and writing about said illness – I don’t have a lot of time. Long walks, one hour Pilates and yoga routines and gym sessions are well in my past, like the distant past. Prior to Noah I had worked up to 20 minutes of Pilates and 30 minutes of walking at a time. Prior to Wyatt I had worked up to 30 minutes of both at a time. Since Wyatt I have had little energy and even less time. But movement is so important that I must prioritise it if I hope to be well.
So I try to move every day.
I have written about the adaptability of yoga – and that I love that about it – I can use yoga whatever my physical state. Sometimes it’s one pose. Other times it’s a full sun salutation series. There’s also chair yoga, half sun salutations and far more than I’ve ever delved into.
As I go into this very busy 2018, I am making a commitment to myself to move every day.

Here’s an example of how I wove yoga into my day yesterday:

  • Half sun salutations before getting dressed
  • Forward bend while waiting for baby to drink his bottle before his nap
  • Yoga Nidra meditation while baby was napping
  • Knees into the chest pose just before bed to relieve my lower back
Yoga may not be your cup of tea, and that’s OK  I’d encourage you to set a goal of movement and stick to it. In order to do that you must like your chosen movement. There are a ton of them. Walking, tai chi, Pilates, swimming, aqua jogging, weight lifting…the list is long.
yoga for fibromyalgia

My free PDF report about Yoga for Fibromyalgia (benefits, research, how I use it plus more links) is available in my free resources page. Sign up here to access it.

I did some research into some good poses for neck and back release and strengthening because this is really an area of issue for me, here’s what I found:

10 Yoga Poses for Neck Pain and Spondylosis – That Changed my Life – the author includes sun saluations! And knee to chest post!

Here are some gentle yoga for fibromyalgia options:

10 Chair Yoga Poses for Home Practice – chair forward bend is delicious!

Bonus if you’re travelling soon!

How to do Yoga on a Plane -even just seated cat and cow pose will be nice!

Bonus if you want to build some strength while you’re at it:

 

I hope there are some things here to get you started. I’ll post updates on my Twitter @thefibromama of how my move every day challenge goes. Feel free to post yours! #moveeveryday

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