How Weight Loss Can Help Address Fibromyalgia Symptoms

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Since fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, patients typically struggle with chronic pain, fatigue, and cognitive disturbances in their daily lives. Data shows that about 6.4% of adults in the US are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but there is no cure for the disorder. However, people with fibromyalgia can focus on treatments that address symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

But besides pain relievers, stress management, and psychosocial interventions, weight loss has also been shown to reduce levels of pain, fatigue, and disease activity. Thus, this article looks into the relationship between weight and fibromyalgia and how patients can manage their weight healthily and sustainably to lessen their chronic disease symptoms.

What research says about weight and fibromyalgia

While excess body weight is commonly associated with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, many overweight and obese individuals also report experiencing musculoskeletal pain. This mutual relationship between body weight and pain can be attributed to mechanical overload, wherein greater weight puts more strain and pressure on the muscles and joints. In some cases, overweight or obesity can also affect the transmission of nerve impulses in the sympathetic nervous system, contributing to pain sensitivity observed among fibromyalgia patients.

On the other hand, weight gain itself can be a consequence of fibromyalgia. Having fibromyalgia can put appetite-regulating hormones like leptin out of sync, potentially causing patients to overeat and have unnecessary cravings. The chronic pain from fibromyalgia can also contribute to weight gain from physical inactivity. While these mechanisms create a vicious cycle of weight gain and musculoskeletal pain among fibromyalgia patients, there are healthy and sustainable ways to approach weight loss and manage symptoms, as discussed in the next section.

How fibromyalgia patients can lose weight healthily

Consider weight loss medications:

Beyond habits and lifestyle, biological factors like genetics and medical conditions can also cause weight gain. Thus, patients genetically predisposed to weight disorders or whose weight gain results from their fibromyalgia condition can benefit from medical weight loss. WeightWatchers incorporates prescription medications in their program to address biology and level the playing field when it comes to weight loss. These chronic weight loss medications are approved by the FDA and can produce up to 15% of clinically significant weight loss. However, these are only prescribed if you meet the BMI and medical requirements and must still be complemented with lifestyle modifications for diet and exercise.

Adopt a well-rounded diet

Not only does diet play a crucial role in weight loss, but it can also be tailored to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. In a 2023 study published in Nutrients, fibromyalgia patients who adopted dietary interventions like plant-based and anti-inflammatory diets reported significant pain improvements. These findings can be explained by how both diets had a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, natural oils, and nuts, as well as a reduced intake of processed foods and red meat. Coincidentally, these dietary patterns can also aid in weight loss due to the abundance of nutrients like fiber and protein, which boost fullness and prevent overeating.

Do therapeutic exercises

Meanwhile, exercise can boost weight loss efforts by burning calories and reducing stress levels. However, many fibromyalgia patients can struggle with developing an appropriate exercise routine due to their pain threshold. But aside from finding a fitness trainer who specializes in working with fibromyalgia patients, you can try doing therapeutic exercises like tai chi. The combination of meditation with deep breathing, relaxation, and gentle movements in tai chi was found to have greater benefits than aerobic exercise in terms of pain relief and management.

As you integrate these tips into your weight loss plan, remember that consulting with your doctor remains crucial for identifying which approaches work for your body weight and fibromyalgia management in the long term. For more research and advice on living with and raising awareness about fibromyalgia, feel free to read the other articles on this website.

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