I last wrote about infrared sauna for fibromyalgia a year and a half ago. At that time, I pointed out that infrared sauna can relieve pain, and that should make it a good fit for fibromyalgia sufferers. Nothing has happened to change my mind about that, but there is a lot of fibromyalgia research going on, so I thought it might be a good idea to see how the latest research might affect my opinion.
There is still no diagnostic test for fibromyalgia. Diagnosis continues to be a process of eliminating all the conditions that could be causing your pain, fatigue, or sleeplessness. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Health care providers have to rule out other causes of the symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This is called making a differential diagnosis.” What the NIH is really saying here is that “fibromyalgia” is what’s left after you’ve ruled out any explainable cause for the condition.
But that doesn’t make the condition any less real. The CDC estimates that about 4 million people in the U.S. suffer from it. It is a real medical condition. But its cause is unknown.
The Inflammation Connection
New research, however, has begun to shed a little light on the cause. A report from Spring 2019 highlighted a research project that demonstrated insulin resistance is involved in the condition. Researchers tested a diabetes drug called metformin on fibromyalgia sufferers and were able to determine that the drug reduced pain for those who received it. The identification of a new drug is probably good news if you suffer from fibromyalgia. But it also creates a lot of connections for those trying to understand it.
Since research from a decade ago showed that obesity generally occurs together with chronic low-level inflammation, this tells me that fibromyalgia may somehow be connected with inflammation. That should be a promising avenue for future research. There are both medical and nonmedical treatments for chronic inflammation, and there is a great deal of evidence that inflammation can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
Infrared Sauna for Fibromyalgia
And it turns out that infrared sauna is a chronic inflammation fighter. A clinical study published in 2018 reviewed the sauna bathing habits of 2269 men over the course of 11 years. It compared those who used the sauna once per week to those who used it 4-7 times per week. The result: the health benefits of sauna enjoyed by the subjects were related to reduced systemic inflammation. And the benefits were proportional to the amount of sauna use.
So infrared sauna may well help to treat fibromyalgia. But Peak is not a medical organization, and we don’t offer treatments here. We still recommend infrared sauna to fibromyalgia sufferers because the comfortable heat of infrared sauna improves flexibility, relaxes tense muscles, and relieves pain.
With some relief for your pain, you may find it possible to exercise more. And exercise can help to reduce pain as well. It is the lifestyle adjustment of choice for arthritis sufferers for that reason. If you’re struggling with fibromyalgia, ask your doctor if heat and then exercise would give you pain relief. Then book a few infrared sauna sessions at Peak Recovery & Health Center.