Illustration: Nick Iluzada
The most common cause of general musculoskeletal pain in women ages 20 to 55 is also the hardest to treat. Unlike other common types of pain, fibromyalgia has no known cause and is characterized by fatigue and widespread aches that can leave the whole body feeling tender. The problem likely lies with the body's central nervous system. In most cases, when the brain processes pain, it sends the signal back to the site of the problem (bang your knee, and you feel a sharp sting on the spot), but with fibromyalgia, the signal is amplified, affecting the body at many different points. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can help manage the symptoms. Some prescription drugs have also been effective at keeping pain under control.
Alternative Rx: Hypnotherapy
The healing powers of hypnotherapy, in which a licensed hypnotherapist guides your mind to a highly focused mental state while easing your body into deep relaxation, are impressive, with studies showing its ability to significantly decrease pain levels and reduce painkiller use. While it's not completely clear why hypnosis works so well, some brain imaging studies suggest it reduces activity in areas of the brain that process pain. And it may not take long: Patients in one study reported relief that lasted for three months after just eight one-hour sessions.
Still looking for ways to heal the hurt at home? Keep these three natural treatments on hand for relief, day or night.