Fibromyalgia Pain Relief: Is It All in Your Lungs?

According to an experimental study, some people with fibromyalgia may find that pain relief is easy as breathing. Breathing slowly, that is.

PAIN, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, published "The effects of slow breathing on affective responses to pain stimuli" in January 2010. The goal of the study was to determine whether breathing rate had an impact on pain and emotion.
Breathing exerciseSome people with fibromyalgia may find that pain relief is easy as breathing. Breathing slowly, that is.The research, which was conducted by scientists in Arizona, focused on two groups of women—one group included women who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and the other group was composed of women who did not have the disorder.

During the experiment, the women experienced somewhat painful thermal pulses on their palms. While these pulses were administered, the researchers asked the women to breath at normal rates. Then they asked the participants to slow down their breathing rates by 50%.

After each heat pulse, the researchers asked the participants about the strength of their pain, their discomfort, and their mood.

The researchers found that the women without fibromyalgia generally reported less pain and discomfort when they slowed down their breathing.

The women with fibromyalgia, however, experienced varied results. The research team found that the women with fibromyalgia who exuded positive traits (as in, they were not affected by negative feelings or depression), experienced reduced pain as their breathing rate reduced. But the women in the fibromyalgia group who were prone to negative feelings did not benefit from slowing down their breathing rate.

This is important because it highlights the link between emotional pain and physical pain. Many people with fibromyalgia suffer from depression and anxiety, which only exacerbates their physical pain.

On the other hand, this study also shows that a positive mental state helps stave off physical pain. To learn more about this connection, read our article on fibromyalgia and emotional health.

Updated on: 04/30/18
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