I’m atmidnight and you’ve finally fallen asleep. Even if it’s just a nap. Then, out of nowhere, you scream in agony because your leg and foot have shrunk severely. So severely, in fact, that your toes contract and twist in strange positions. The pain is so intense that you can’t even put your feet on the floor or against a wall to stretch your toes to normal. The muscle cramps in the leg are so powerful that it feels strangely reminiscent of labor pains. In fact, sometimes it even seems to decrease and flow the same way, just like contractions. Eventually, the pain goes away, but then it occurs a few more times during the night.
The Journal of Integrative Medicine reported on a study of magnesium and its effects on fibromyalgia conducted at the Mayo Clinic. The first investigated study of its kind examined how effective magnesium is applied topically in relieving six different symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, including muscle cramps. The study found that after two weeks of applying a solution called “Fibro Flex” to their skin, fibromyalgia patients saw improvement after just two weeks of constant use. The improvement was sustained for the duration of the four-week study.
“This study confirmed existing medical research, which says that maintaining therapeutic serum magnesium levels has been linked to decreased symptoms of fibromyalgia, including depression, tender point scoring and fatigue,” says the Association. National Fibromyalgia. Other than some skin irritation where the spray was applied, the test subjects experienced no other negative side effects. Since almost everyone in the West suffers from a magnesium deficiency, this could be helpful for more than just fibromyalgia muscle cramps. TENS machines and EMS devices
If you’re like me, a TENS machine didn’t sound remotely familiar. I first came across it on a fibromyalgia forum, where I thought someone had misspelled it. But then I found out that I have used something similar many times in my life, particularly in the chiropractor’s office. You know what I’m talking about? I mean, when you go to the chiropractor and they connect you to these little electrodes. It almost seems like they make your muscles flex and relax with electricity. I always have to keep mine at a really low level because I am very sensitive. But they are really useful. And now you can get them for private use at home. Those are called EMS devices that help increase blood flow to the muscles, increase range of motion, and more. It can be a lifeline for fibro patients!
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) sends stimulating pulses to the skin and nerve filaments to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Take that for a minute. Now think about this: It is also used to stimulate the body to produce more natural endorphins or pain relievers. A key difference between a TENS machine and EMS devices is that you wear the TENS machine on your body. Don’t worry, it’s small. But many fibromyalgia patients find it to be very useful and effective as an alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers. In other words, it is a safe, non-invasive, drug-free pain treatment. Are there other methods?
There are absolutely other methods of relieving the often debilitating and agonizing pain of muscle cramps / spasms that accompany fibromyalgia. Vitamin E is reported to be very helpful for muscle cramps, especially for those who live quite sedentary lives. Many have had great success with the prescription drug Lyrica, which is one of the most common pharmaceuticals used to treat fibromyalgia anyway.
There are other options like acupressure. Some fibro patients have learned to do this to themselves. But first you will need to visit a quality acupuncturist or acupurist to get some direction. Yoga is exceptionally beneficial in keeping muscles stretched and mobile. This leads to increased blood flow and minimizes cramps. For some fibro patients, it works entirely. The keys are not to overdo it and listen to your body. One more option is called the Bowen technique, also known as Bowen therapy. Similar to acupressure, this technique uses gentle rocking movements to promote healing and pain relief. It is so effective that it is even used for horses!
Do you have any experience with these methods of treating fibromyalgia and leg cramps? Which ones helped you and which ones failed you? Have you found a different method or technique that works for you? Please share your thoughts with us. Maybe you stumbled across something that could help other fibromyalgia patients cope with their fibromyalgia and leg cramps.