pain condition

  1. Yoga can bring fibro relief

    Score one more for yoga!

    Researchers say light stretching can do what a pharmacy full of drugs often cannot: Bring real relief to women suffering from fibromyalgia, the mystifying and often debilitating pain condition.

    Researchers from York University in Toronto asked 22 women to take 75-minute hatha yoga classes twice a week. After just eight weeks, the women reported less pain than they did at the start of the study.

    They also felt better about their condition, reporting less helplessness and more acceptance, and they were less likely to focus on the worst possible outcomes of the disease.

    Although those responses were based on a questionnaire given before and after the study, there were also noticeable changes on a much more objective level. The researchers say the women had higher levels of the "stress hormone" cortisol after eight weeks of yoga lessons.

    Now, that might sound bad. "Stress hormone" sounds like trouble, and you definitely don't want too much of it hanging around.

    But too little can be even worse, because the stress hormone is needed to help control inflammation and regulate blood pressure. More importantly, it also keeps the immune system in check -- the same immune system that often goes haywire in fibromyalgia patients.

    And not so coincidentally, fibro patients usually have very low levels of cortisol.

    Since the study was small, it'll take more research before anyone can say for sure whether yoga can boost cortisol levels in the long run -- but other studies have been encouraging, at least when it comes to pain relief.

    In one I told you about last year, yoga actually brought as much relief as drugs, with none of the risks. (Read about it here.)

    Now, if you're suffering from fibro, I know you might think the pretzel-like contortions of yoga are the last things your body could handle.

    In reality, the hatha form of yoga used in the new study is one of the most basic -- and the most gentle.

    And in addition to helping to beat pain and regulate your cortisol levels, yoga has been shown to boost physical strength and energy levels, lower blood pressure, and even improve mental health.

    You can often find inexpensive or even free lessons through your local library, park, or senior center -- or even try it on your own with a book or video.

    Happy stretching.

  2. Obesity boosts risk of fibromyalgia

    We all know how extra weight can lead to a world of disease. And now, a new study shows how it can put you in a world of pain, too.

    The latest research finds that overweight and obese women have a much higher risk of the debilitating pain condition, fibromyalgia.

    Those forced to cope with this awful syndrome, which tends to affect women, say it's like the volume's been turned up on their pain, everywhere. Believe me, this is something you want to avoid--and if dropping a few pounds can do the trick, do it.

    In the new study, researchers found that overweight and obese women had a 60-70 percent increased risk of developing fibromyalgia. And women who exercised four or more times each week were 29 percent less likely to come down with the condition than sedentary women.

    Overall, the researchers found that overweight and obese women who were either completely inactive or exercised for less than an hour a week had a two-fold increase in fibromyalgia risk, according to the study in Arthritis Care and Research.

    The researchers behind this new study said exercise in normal-weight women didn't seem to prevent fibromyalgia-- but that doesn't mean you should get cozy on the sofa, especially if you're already suffering from this condition.

    In fact, one recent study found that 30 minutes of light activity a day, even simple movements such as walking or gardening, can send the pain packing.

    That's a lot better than anything most doctors will give you. In fact, many of them wouldn't even say the word "fibromyalgia" out loud until recently, and not just because it's a lot of syllables.

    Many mainstream doctors claimed it was all in their patients' heads.

    Now, most doctors are only too happy to hand you a fibromyalgia diagnosis--and not because they suddenly became better doctors. It's because now, they have drugs they can give you.

    Don't be fooled.

    In addition to side effects such as anxiety, depression, swelling, stomach problems and even more pain, these meds are barely effective. One review of the research found that, as a group, they're only about 35 percent effective.

    I think most people would call that "ineffective."

    The real answer--and the reason so many people have trouble finding it--is in the fact that fibromyalgia can be caused by any one of a number of conditions. In some cases, it may be caused by nutritional or hormonal deficiencies. Many women have had success with the hormone relaxin.

    And still others have found common--but often undiagnosed –-food allergies are behind the pain.

    Most ordinary doctors don't have the time or skills to correctly diagnose and treat fibromyalgia. If you want to win the battle against pain, visit an experienced holistic doctor who can not only get to the cause of your condition, but find a safe way to treat it.

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