Fibromyalgia. It’s different for everyone that has it, but one thing remains constant: no one likes having it. Most people with fibromyalgia agree that it storms into your life like a hurricane, knocks you flat on your back, and takes up residence in your life like an uninvited house guest that just doesn’t take a hint!
Since everyone is so different, I will try my best to touch on the main symptoms that I see almost everyone suffering from, but my main focus is simply on my personal experience with fibromyalgia and what I have done to ease the symptoms I have.
My fibromyalgia was triggered by an injury. The injury wasn’t catastrophic by any means, and should not have resulted in lifelong problems, but here we are. I was skiing with my husband and one of my best friends, felt a twinge of pain in my knee (probably slight overuse and the higher impact of an icy slope), so I immediately got to the lodge and put my leg up! If you ski, you know that knee pain is not something to take lightly because the knees are under a lot of stress while you’re skiing! Sitting at the base, I pulled up my pant leg to expose my knee to the cold (my way of icing it) and there was a small bruise. When we got home, I iced it properly, took some anti-inflammatories, and made sure to wear my knee brace whenever I might need to put any weight on my knee (which I also made sure to do as little as possible). It just didn’t seem to be improving much. Then I slipped on some concrete steps in a store about a month later, locked my leg, and had to ride in a cart the rest of the trip.
Three months from the initial “injury” and it still hadn’t healed, so I went to my doctor. They ordered imaging to make sure I hadn’t torn my meniscus and I started physical therapy. One night, after I’d been in therapy for about a month, I burst into tears lying in bed. Suddenly, every single joint and major muscle in my body felt like it was swollen and on fire! It legitimately felt as though I had turned into a flaming puffer fish! My husband was extremely concerned, because I don’t cry and scream randomly without very good reason (or emotional reasons, but I had been in a great mood). When I mentioned it to my physical therapist, he told me to go to a rheumatologist, which is how I met one of my favorite doctors (Dr Spencer).
Dr Spencer ran a lot of tests, did even more imaging, ruled out pretty much everything he could think of, and finally diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. The diagnosis was a bit of a blow, because it came only six months before my wedding, but it was also a relief to have a name for the pain that had been bothering me for almost a year! We tried Cymbalta, which made me extremely ill and made my pain significantly worse. After failing that, he put me on gabapentin, which eventually got my pain almost totally controlled and I was able to wean off of it. Now, the only medication I take for my fibromyalgia is a daily magnesium supplement (and, yes, I totally notice if I accidentally skip it). That’s my fibromyalgia journey in a nutshell!
As I said before, every single person with fibromyalgia experiences different symptoms. The hallmark of fibromyalgia is widespread pain and aching for several months (or longer). Some doctors still insist on using the “tender points” (areas that cause rather severe pain when pushed on) criteria, but it is slowly becoming less of a diagnostic tool. However, the pain caused by fibromyalgia can be very different for every individual. Pain can also fluctuate: some days you feel “normal” and other days you can barely open your eyes because even that small movement sends your pain levels soaring! Those periods of higher than your “baseline” pain levels are known as “flares.” I definitely have flare cycles, and I don’t ever experience “no pain” days, but in general my pain is extremely well controlled and I can ignore it pretty well.
What kinds of pain do I experience?
Even when my pain is well controlled, I deal with widespread muscular and joint pain. Pretty much every major muscle group is sore all the time, but the controlled level is very similar to the pain I would experience several days after an overly-intense workout (“barely sore, but please don’t push it”). My muscles also fatigue much faster than average, so that isn’t fun.
During a flare, my muscle and joint pain is intense and the type of pain varies. What I usually experience when I’m flaring is a widespread burning sensation, as if I have a raging fire just below the skin, and the sensation of ants crawling all over my body. My body will feel like I’ve been hit by a truck or beaten severely by a baseball bat, and I become even more sensitive to touch sensation than I already am. Sometimes, I can feel every single hair on my body, as well as the blood running through my veins; those sensations are the most distracting and uncomfortable things you can imagine, but they don’t actually “hurt,” thankfully.
What other symptoms do I have?
Aside from pain, my fibromyalgia includes:
- crippling fatigue (varies day to day and is significantly worse when flaring)
- irritability (worse when flaring)
- overly sensitive senses (scent, hearing, touch, taste)
- lack of restorative sleep
- brain fog (the feeling you get if you get woken mid-dream and can’t shake off sleep)
- worsening IBS and more intense flares
- worsening and more frequent headaches
As you can see, fibromyalgia impacts multiple symptoms and makes daily life difficult in multiple ways.
I started using doTERRA essential oils, and couldn’t be happier with the results! Originally, I started using their Deep Blue Rub (a natural alternative to Icy Hot) for my aching knees and back, and then expanded to using the pure essential oils daily.
Symptoms I Support with E.O.s
Figuring out how to support a few of my symptoms has been challenging, but I’m working on it! Right now, I am able to use essential oils to support:
- muscle and joint aches/discomfort; head/neck tension
- fatigue; lack of restorative sleep
- brain fog; fatigue
- stomach/intesional discomfort, cramping, and bloating
Essential Oil Use
Please use caution when working with essential oils! Essential oils are extremely powerful substances, and can cause injury if used incorrectly. Be sure to dilute all oils, especially at first, and start with the smallest amount until you know how your body reacts and until you get used to them. Also remember that light application frequently is more effective than a single, heavy application.
Joints, Muscle, Head & Neck Discomfort and Tension
For general discomfort and tension, I use wintergreen and Deep Blue. I go more into detail about my wintergreen use in this post (here), so I won’t elaborate too much in this post. I am mildly touch-allergic to all nut oils, and the Deep Blue Rub has nut oil in it, so I try not to use it often. However, the Deep Blue Rub does work wonders when I need it! For most of my uses, however, the roller I’ve mixed up using the oil itself will work just fine!
I made one roller of wintergreen essential oil (20 drops of wintergreen in a 10 mL roller bottle, topped off with fractionated coconut oil) and one with both Deep Blue and wintergreen (15 drops of Deep Blue, 5 drops of Wintergreen).
If I’m experiencing muscle aches, I use the wintergreen roller, while the Deep Blue roller is mostly for joint discomfort. In the case I’m experiencing both in one area (such as my SI joints), I apply a layer of wintergreen and rub it in then apply the Deep Blue and rub it in. The two oils work quite well together! For easing occasional head/neck tension, I roll a little wintergreen onto my neck and shoulders and rub it in; sometimes, I need to put a little bit of the wintergreen on my temples as well. The difference this has made is remarkable! (You can also mix two drops of wintergreen into some Epsom salt and soak in a bath with it.)
Lack of Restorative Sleep
To help unwind and prepare for sleep, lavender and cedarwood are my go-tos! Getting restorative sleep really helps with daytime fatigue, but sleep cycles are different in fibromyalgia patients and we don’t always achieve fully restorative sleep. A lack of restorative sleep means that we could sleep for 5 hours or 15 hours and feel exactly the same. Our bodies often try to force us to sleep for longer periods in hopes that we’ll get some restorative sleep eventually, but it doesn’t happen. Imagine sleeping for only 5 hours a night (or less) for several years in a row with no “sleep in” days! This is where lavender and cedarwood have helped me dramatically! While I still don’t get fully restorative sleep, I do get to sleep much faster, sleep a bit deeper, and can wake up feeling more rested than I have since my diagnosis.
Every night, I setup my doTERRA Petal Diffuser and add three-four drops of lavender and one-two drops of cedarwood (sometimes the oils come out a little faster than intended). I turn the diffuser on about thirty minutes before I want to be asleep (set to run for four hours), focus on breathing deeply, and I can feel my body relax. Right before bed, I also turn on the Calm app and will drift off quickly listening to a sleep mediation and inhaling the essential oils. I had been using the meditation app by itself for about a year before I started using the oils, and the oils have made a significant difference in my ability to get to sleep and stay asleep! (If lavender and cedarwood alone aren’t quite enough, I highly recommend trying doTERRA Serenity! While it’s not my “go to” for sleep, it has worked absolute wonders for so many people that I can confidently say it is well worth it!)
Brain Fog & Fatigue
Using citrus oils during the day has helped ease my brain fog and fatigue. Brain fog and fatigue go hand-in-hand for me; the more fatigued I get, the worse my brain fog gets. Sometimes, I’ll have the fatigue without the brain fog, and very rarely I’ll get brain fog without the fatigue. Either way, I tend to treat them very similarly. When they both get bad, I can’t actually leave the house on my own (it becomes extremely unsafe to drive), so these steps help me remain functional while I’m at home. (Wintergreen essential oil does have an uplifting scent to it, so if I’m out and about I can roll a little on my neck and shoulders and it’ll help me until I can get home.)
There are several citrus oils by doTERRA, and they all have uplifting properties. Some are also very “calming,” however, and I would not recommend those for high fatigue days! The most uplifting ones that I use regularly are wild orange, lemon, and tangerine. Putting several drops in my diffuser (follow your diffuser’s instructions for how many drops it needs) improves my mood, helps me focus, and gives me a little extra pep! You can use them separately, or you can combine them in any way you want! I frequently pair them with eucalyptus or cypress as both of those oils help to open airways (and adequate oxygen helps you stay awake). On my worst days, I can barely get off the couch and barely remember my name, but with my oils I can feed myself (trust me, this is huge) and my brain will function enough that I can watch something more challenging than Game Show Network or HGTV (both of those are primarily “background noise” for me).
Stomach & Intestinal Discomfort
IBS is a large topic, so I’ll likely do a more detailed “IBS support” post later. (You can learn more about my IBS in this post: here.) Unfortunately, I’m sensitive to ginger in food form and somewhat in essential oil form. Only being able to tolerate small amounts of ginger essential oil, means that I cannot use doTERRA DigestZen for all of my digestive support. Since I can’t use DigestZen frequently, I looked through a lot of articles and came up with a belly blend that works really well for my digestive discomfort and even my monthly cramping.
I placed one drop of clary sage, four drops of cardamom, five drops of lemon, and ten drops of marjoram into a 10 mL roller bottle, and then filled the bottle up the rest of the way with fractionated coconut oil. When I get the horrible discomfort, cramps, and/or bloating in my abdomen, or when I get uncontrollable nausea, I roll the belly roller all over my abdomen (applying more in the areas that are the most uncomfortable) and gently rub it in. Breathe deeply while applying the oils, and it gives you both the aromatic and topical benefits. While it’s not always 100%, it makes everything significantly more tolerable.
For particularly bad flares, I’ll have to do two applications (a few minutes apart to allow the first coat to fully absorb) before I feel the benefits. However, this is the only thing I have found to effectively treat the intestinal spasms and bloating! Wild orange is also supposed to be very helpful for digestive problems, so the next time I make up the roller I think I’ll try adding a few drops of wild orange into the mix.
I use a lot more oils on a daily basis, but these are my absolute favorites!
Also, if you’re interested in any of the oils I mention here, and would like to know how they could help you, contact me using the form below. I can’t wait to help you figure out a natural support plan for you!
Do you have any essential oils that you use to support ongoing discomfort/aches? Leave a comment below telling me what you use!
Disclaimer: Product links in this post will earn me a small commission if you use them. The items available through the links will cost you the exact same amount whether or not you use the links! Thank you for supporting my blog and lifestyle!
If you want to get started with essential oils, you can use the contact form above! However, if you know you want oils I mentioned above, many are available in one kit for a steep discount. My recommendation is to get a wholesale account, here, and select the Home Essentials kit. Of the oils mentioned above, the HE kit includes: lemon, lavender, DigestZen, and Deep Blue. The HE kit also includes the diffuser I mention above and a 25% discount on all products for one year. With your enrollment, you can set up the LRP program (rewards program I’d love to chat with you about) and there you can add some of the extra oils I mentioned! This will give you the best deal!