07.31.2017

30 low-cost fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme treatments

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This article on low-cost treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme was originally published on NationalPainReport.com. It is being reprinted here with permission from the editor. 

Chronic illness can be a huge financial drain. As someone who is living with fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme, most of the money I make from working part time is spent on my treatment. I hand over hundreds of dollars every month for the cleanest, healthiest food I can find. I spend way too much money on supplements just so I can function.

And then, there are the doctor’s appointments (which cost hundreds of dollars out of pocket because most Lyme specialists don’t accept insurance), the prescription medication co-pays, the over-the-counter creams and lotions, and the list goes on and on and on.

30 low-cost treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme disease | Fed Up with Fatigue

Like most of you, chronic illness has cost me thousands of dollars over the past few years. There’s no end in sight to the money suck, but I continue to invest in my (lack of) health in order to improve my quality of life and maybe one day recover. Because of that, I end up writing about a lot of products and services here on my blog and at NationalPainReport.com. Invariably, I get comments from readers who say, “I can’t afford that…”

I understand their frustration. I really do! As someone who once received food stamps and fuel assistance from the government, I know what it’s like to have to make tough financial decisions. So, I wanted to create a list of low-cost treatments for fibromyalgia and Lyme for those who are struggling financially and looking for the most bang for their buck. Everything on this list is under $20 and has either been personally used by myself or other fibromyalgia/Lyme warriors who found it helpful for relieving symptoms. (Caveat: As with all fibromyalgia and Lyme treatments, what works for one of us doesn’t necessary work for all of us. Results can and will vary.)

In the comments section, please feel free to add your own low-cost treatments so we can all learn from one another.

Disclosures: This post contains affiliate links. All products were under $20 at the time of publication, but please be aware that prices do change. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical treatment. Readers should conduct their own research and speak with their doctors about any prospective treatment. 

Supplements

1. Multivitamin – Because of changing agricultural practices, it’s hard to get all of our nutrients from food. The foundation of my supplement protocol is a good quality multivitamin. Because I have one of the MTHFR genetic defects, I try to take a multivitamin like this one with methylated forms of B vitamins and folate to ensure better absorption.

2. Magnesium – Without a doubt, magnesium malate has been the best all-around supplement that I’ve used since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Lyme. It helps to reduce my pain levels, soothes my restless legs, improves my sleep and keeps me regular (sorry, if that’s TMI). I use the Source Naturals brand, and a bottle lasts for months. (Some in the Lyme community believe magnesium feeds the Lyme spirochetes. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I continue to take magnesium because I find it helpful for the reasons cited above.)

3. Digestive enzymes – Most people with fibromyalgia and/or Lyme also deal with gut problems. Taking digestive enzymes with meals and at bedtime has been a game-changer for my digestive health. I was diagnosed with GERD in 2015 and would get nasty reflux, especially while sleeping. Within two weeks of adding digestive enzymes to my supplement routine, I was able to stop taking a prescription-strength proton-pump inhibitor. These things are awesome!

4. Nux Vomica 30C – I’m currently taking long-term antibiotics to treat chronic Lyme, and I deal with nausea pretty much every day. Nux Vomica 30C, an over-the-counter homeopathic remedy, has been a lifesaver for me in relieving nausea and queasiness. I daresay it works just as well as the prescription drug that my doctor gave me for the same purpose. And better still, it is super cheap! (Ginger tea is another good natural remedy for nausea.)

5. Vitamin D – Multiple research studies have shown vitamin D deficiency may contribute to chronic pain. I remember reading an article years ago that said anyone who lives north of Florida is probably vitamin D deficient because of the positioning of the sun; a simple blood test from your doctor can confirm your vitamin D level. Fortunately, vitamin D deficiency is usually easy to rectify with an inexpensive over-the-counter vitamin D3 supplement. I’ve read that it’s best to take vitamin D with vitamin K for better absorption.

6. Curcumin – If your gut can tolerate it, curcumin is a great natural pain reliever and inflammation fighter. If you’ve got more than $20 to spend, one of my Lyme doctors recommended Curamin or Curamed.

7. D-ribose – One of the first supplements that really helped my fatigue was d-ribose. Two studies by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum found d-ribose was effective at reducing the fatigue of fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. (You can read about my own experience with d-ribose here.)

8. Kratom – In recent years, this Asian tree has gained popularity as a pain reliever and to help with opioid withdrawal. There’s a lot of debate over whether kratom is addictive, and it’s illegal in some states, but a growing number of my fellow fibro/Lyme warriors are successfully using it for pain. As with any treatment, I would encourage my readers to do their research so they can make an educated decision.

9. 5-HTP – My last fibromyalgia doctor was a big fan of 5-HTP (100-300 mg) to help with sleep and mood, but it isn’t recommended for those already taking prescription antidepressants.

10. GABA/glycine – Using GABA and glycine has improved my sleep so much! Together, these supplements cost over $20, but the bottles last for several months, making it a cheap sleep remedy. Like 5-HTP, they shouldn’t be used by people on prescription antidepressants. (You can read about my experience with GABA/glycine here.)

11. Serrapeptase – Part of what makes Lyme so difficult to treat is that it hides in biofilm, a sticky substance that prevents the immune system and antibiotics/herbs from being able to reach and kill the bacteria. Serrapeptase is one of the most popular biofilm busters, and fortunately, it is relatively inexpensive as supplements go. Serrapeptase may also be helpful for fibromyalgia.

12. Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak – Fatigue is a primary symptom for both fibromyalgia and Lyme. Some days I feel like there’s a giant vacuum cleaner sucking out all of my life force. When that feeling strikes, I reach for a packet of Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak. It’s similar to Emergen-C but the ingredients are a tad bit cleaner. I usually feel more energized within a few minutes of drinking it. (You can view my full review here.)

Topical treatments

13. Topical magnesium – In addition to supplementing with magnesium, I also use topical magnesium lotion, which is great for relieving muscle aches, calming restless legs and reducing the burning in my feet from neuropathy. Over the last few months, I’ve fallen in love with Elepure Magnesium Lotion. Ancient Minerals is another brand frequently recommended in the fibromyalgia community, but it costs more than $20. I also just recently had a reader recommend ProCure Epsom Salt Rub, which is sold at Walmart near the Epsom salt.

14. Two Old Goats Foot Balm – Neuropathy (i.e. burning, numbness, etc., especially in the extremities) is an extremely common symptom of fibromyalgia and tick-borne infections. Sometimes, my feet feel like they are on fire! When that happens, I reach for my container of Two Old Goats Foot Balm, which contains peppermint and other essential oils to cool the burning. Two Old Goats also makes a lotion that’s a favorite among some in the fibro community. It’s similar in formulation to the foot balm, but has a more liquid texture.

15. Peppermint essential oil – Another good nausea buster is peppermint essential oil. I add a couple of drops to my palm, rub my hands together and then bring my hands up to my nose and inhale. It definitely helps!

16. Biofreeze – I was introduced to Biofreeze years ago by my then massage therapist who would use it on my back. Since then, it’s been my go-to product for localized pain. (Always wash your hands after using it because this stuff is potent, and you don’t want it to come into contact with any of your orifices! Ouch!)

17. MyPainAway Fibro Cream – Fibro Cream didn’t personally work for me, but I’ve heard good things about it from others with fibromyalgia. (You can read more about it here.)

18. Epsom salt baths – I prefer showers myself, but there are hordes of people with fibromyalgia and/or Lyme who swear by Epsom salt baths. Epsom salts are great at relieving pain and relaxing tensed muscles, and also help with detox. The Dr. Teals brand is really popular and available at Walmart. If you hate baths like I do, you can also get some benefit by soaking your feet in Epsom salts.

19. DMSO – I’ve only begun to research DMSO but it seems to be an underground favorite for pain relief. I would caution anyone, however, to research DMSO thoroughly before starting use. From what I’ve read, users have to be extremely careful about how it’s applied, and it needs to be diluted with some sort of carrier, like aloe vera gel or almond oil, in order to avoid skin irritation. I’ve also read that it causes users to smell like garlic.

20. Pain patches – My readers recommend Tiger Balm, Salonpas and lidocaine patches for localized pain.

Devices

21. Heating pad – Many fibromyalgia and Lyme sufferers – myself included – find heat therapy to be very soothing. Using a heating pad is an inexpensive way to relieve localized pain. There are also microwaveable versions.

22. TENS unit – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) involves the use of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. TENS units can provide pain relief from fibromyalgia, arthritis, tendonitis, headaches, migraines, nerve disorders, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, golf elbow, post-labor pain, neuropathy, carpal tunnel, calf injury, back and neck pain, and sciatica, among others. Personally, I haven’t had good results using a TENS unit, but I know many in the fibromyalgia community who swear by them. Most TENS units are well over $20, but I did find this mini unit for less.

Books

23. The FibroManual – Anyone who’s read my work for a while knows I’m a huge fan of Dr. Ginevra Liptan and her latest book, “The FibroManual.” If you’re ready to take an active role in your health, the 4 R’s of fibromyalgia treatment outlined in her book are a good place to start.

24. The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution – The first fibromyalgia-related book that I read after my diagnosis was “The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution” by Jacob Teitelbaum. Like Dr. Liptan, he takes a more integrative approach to fibromyalgia treatment. It’s worth the read!

25. Healing Lyme – While I don’t suggest anyone try to treat themselves for chronic Lyme, the reality is many Lyme warriors don’t have the financial means to pay for a specialist. For those people, herbalist Stephen Buhner is a savior. His book, “Healing Lyme,” outlines the herbs he’s used to successfully treat thousands of chronic Lyme patients.

26. Unlocking Lyme – I’m just a few chapters into reading Dr. Bill Rawls’ latest book, “Unlocking Lyme,” but so far it seems like it’s going to give me a good, well-rounded overview of chronic Lyme, its challenges and treatments. Rawls was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Lyme, and has used mostly an herbal approach for treatment, so his books are a good fit for those who gravitate toward a more natural approach.

Other

27. Compression clothing – One of my most troublesome symptoms is nasty, bone-deep shin pain caused by bartonella, a common insect-borne infection. One of the only things that seems to help are these compression sleeves. They have been worth every dollar!

28. Tennis balls – Tennis balls work great for those tight, painful areas around the body. For ideas on how to use them, check out Prevention.com’s “10 pain-fighting moves you can do with a tennis ball.”

29. Introductory Fibromyalgia Course – CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help offers a $20 Introductory Course for managing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I took this course a few months after my diagnosis and found it really helpful. The organization also offers a free version. (You can read my full post about CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help’s courses here.)

30. Planet Fitness membership – We’ve all been told exercise is important for managing fibromyalgia and Lyme, but gym memberships are super expensive. According to one of my readers, Planet Fitness offers memberships starting at just $10 a month. She also said their massage chairs are fantastic!

Now, it’s your turn: What are your favorite low-cost (under $20) treatments for fibromyalgia or Lyme? Please share in the comments!

You might also like…

A few of my favorite things for relieving the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia.

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Comments

  1. I know it’s a little more but I have found that a heated throw does wonders for me. I tend to get pain all over when I flare so a heating pad just won’t do it. You can generally get one for between $25 and $30 at places like Walmart and JC Penney (and others). There are much more expensive ones but the cheap ones work fine for me.

  2. These are all great! I’d like to add a few book titles to the list: I recently read Chronic Pain Treatments That Work, Heal Your Pain Now, and Biology of Belief. I’ve learned to shift my thoughts from ruminating on my pain and what I can’t do (plus limited finances & lots of bills) to teaching myself skills that could benefit others. This gave me a purpose and a mission vs. falling into and staying in lonely depression. I highly recommend joining a Toastmasters group so you can be around positive people, learn to give inspirational speeches, and learn communication and leadership skills. It’s well worth the membership fee! And BLOG! Come over to mine after you read this one!

    • The book is The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments. Chronic Pain Treatments That Work was a documentary series in which I learned of the book.

  3. Donna – I wanted to reach out and tell you THANK YOU for this article. I have spent months in pain having expensive tests done, and was actually getting ready for some more expensive tests and/or cortisone steroid shots in my neck. In preparation for the shots, a week ago Monday I quit taking my daily Fish Oil. On Friday last week I read this article, and on Saturday I bought the Magnesium supplement you recommended. On Sunday that was the first day in months I felt human again. My symptoms have been dramatically reduced. Last night I didn’t take gabapentin. I am putting off cortisone shots and now going to find someone for a major blood work up. But I believe you truly saved me. Check out my last few blog posts….you’ll understand. (One forthcoming on these comments!!) <3

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      Hi Cynthia, I’m so glad the magnesium is helping! I saw a difference when I added it to my supplement protocol, too.

  4. Bobbi says:

    Hi again! I just wanted to add that I know there’s concern over Kratom and the potential for addiction, but after 20+years of dealing with fibro, Lyme, chronic fatigue plus spinal injuries, I was truly fed up, depressed and hopeless. I gave kratom a try about 6 months ago and it’s been literally life changing. I was on Prescription opiates for years, and I have the CYP-450 genetic defect which basically means i metabolize most drugs extremely rapidly, so my point is that I’ve run out of the kratom several times and withdrawal from any substance for me comes fast and hits harrrd! When I’ve run out I did feel some withdrawal but it’s very very manageable. I’m truly not crazy about being on anything that’s addictive, but I’m much less crazy about living in pain, slogging through life and being perpetually depressed. Kratom takes care of all of those things for me and I honestly don’t ever want to be without it. If you Google it you’ll find it’s been used for over 4000 years in many parts of the world, it’s life force giving, while opiates and some other drugs are life force robbing. It is simply leaves from a tree. I don’t mean to get all woo-woo on ya but I feel it’s got a very gentle and healing vibe. We all need to choose what’s best for us in all ways, but I’d hate for anyone to not receive the many benefits from it because they were afraid of possible addiction. I really get that fear, I’ve gone through many many horrible times becoming physically addicted to and having to go through hell getting off many meds because I hated being a zombie. But I know many many people who have absolutely no problems with it when they stop, and if it doesn’t bother me, queen of addiction, it’s just not worth not giving it a shot if your life could dramatically improve. Whew! Sorry for the novel here!

  5. Bobbi says:

    Hi all! Thanks again Donna for another awesome article! I’d like to add one that has been SO helpful for me with sleep. Passionflower, but only the *extract. For some reason the capsules with dried in them just don’t cut it. I started using it a few months ago and I reeeally do fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep. As a matter of fact, I ran out and didn’t take it last it last night and man can I tell. 😴 I’m dragging. I use Wild Harvest extract, and it lasts over a month for me. Here’s to all of us trudging through this maize of supplements, devices and various other things doing our best to have a better life. We are not wusses that’s for sure! Fibro, Lymes, and the others are definitely not for the weak at heart. Let’s all give ourselves and each other a big ol pat on the back.. but not too hard!! 😁

  6. Mary emilio says:

    I have the book Fibro Manual and it is great. I have had Fibromyalgia Chronic Pain and Fatigue for 17 yrs. I think I have all the books written on this subject. This is the best book and has things in it that work. A good mixture of herbal and prescription and mild stretching.
    I know the Quell is expensive, but it has helped me cut my pain meds in half, something I have struggled with from beginning. The awful pain.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      Quell has absolutely changed my life, too. I wish everyone w/ fibro could afford one.

  7. Thanks, Donna! I have been taking a few of the things you mentioned and they really do help, namely Vitamin D, digestive enzymes (couldn’t get by without them!), GABA, etc. I don’t know why I stopped taking Serrapeptase but need to get on that one again. I have a TENs machine and need to get that going again. The other thing you mention I can’t live without is my peppermint oil! This is a very comprehensive list and I intend on trying a few more items from it.

  8. Corleen says:

    Newly diagnosed with fibro/CFS. Found your website, subscribed to your newsletter and follow you on FB. While I’ve been ill for nearly two years with lesser symptoms for years prior, I am in the struggling phase of frustration, extreme fatigue and pain and all that goes with it. Research, reading, and better diet and food prep consume most of my time that I’m able to be up and about. Just wanted to say how helpful your resources have been and are, and express appreciation for the “community” of care, sharing,and support. It’s invaluable and what you’re doing is important and valued. Thank you.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      Thank you so much, Corleen. Comments like yours are what keep my motivated to keep pushing.

    • Bobbi says:

      Hugs to you and hang in there! We have each other and that’s so helpful! 💖

  9. Lynne Minore says:

    I use a gel, Sombra. I first learned about this from my pain management Doctor. You can purchase an 8 oz. jar for about $16 on Amazon. It is amazing! I have been using this for about four years now and I don’t know what I would do without it.

  10. Renée H. says:

    Thank you for posting all these helpful treatments!!
    I just read about Rhodiola Rosea, referred to as an adaptogen. Wondering if you or anyone else has heard of this and has experience taking it– it’s primarily a treatment for fatigue with other benefits as well.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      I have heard of it but haven’t researched it or used it. Something to add to my research list!

    • Bobbi says:

      I have tried it. I was taking it for about 4 months and it did help with fatigue and a little with depression, but I stopped because I was going through a phase of high anxiety and it made it worse. I’d go back on it now though. I’d say that if you are prone to anxiousness maybe not great, but otherwise it was helpful.

  11. Jeri Cooper says:

    Do you currently take all of those supplements or are these supplements you have used over the years?

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      These are supplements I’ve used or others in the fibro/Lyme communities use. From the supplement category of the post, I’m currently using all of them except d-ribose, kratom and curcumin.

  12. Jean Price says:

    What a wonderful and thoughtful article! Although I think I’ve tried everything for pain over 27 plus years…there’s always something new to learn!

    For what’s helped me…
    SportzCreme…it’s not icey or hot, and it doesn’t have a menthol smell, works well on my sore muscles. Available OTC at most any drugstore. Sometimes for really bad pain flares, I’ll combine it with Biofreeze!

    TheraCane…a physical therapy device for doing those hard to reach trigger points…on your own!! It’s about $50, and usually not covered by insurance…yet it has saved me countless copays. My daughter uses it too for her trigger point pain from scoliosis. The man who created it, did so for a friend who had been in an auto accident and had persistent pain and lots of myofacial issues. It’s easy to use by yourself and without straining other parts of your body, and you can even use it while you’re stretched out in bed! A miracle tool in my opinion!

    Imaging…is a technique I use a lot. It’s basically getting as comfortable as possible, relaxing with your eyes closed and then visualizing in your mind’s eye where your pain is, what shape it is, and what color it is. Then reaching in and pulling in out of your body, (again your mind’s eye), and blessing it…(just saying “I bless my pain.”). Then handing it to God or Christ or whoever you see as your ultimate Helper and Protector through your own personal spiritual beliefs, (they would be there with you in your mind’s eye). And you ask them to please bless your pain also. Then you thank them, and open your eyes and take a few deep breaths, staying relaxed for a few minutes before you get up. Amazing how this boosts your coping, too!

    Lavender scents….candles, lotion, spritz cologne, essential oils, sprigs of the plant that are crushed….any of these can help set the stage for me to do my relaxing, imaging, or deep breathing exercises. A good relaxing scent for aromatherapy.

    A couple of topical prescription medicines have also helped me, although the cost would depend on a person’s insurance converse for medication:
    Fletctor Patch… is a prescription anti-inflammation topical patch,(containing Diclofenac), good for people like me because anti-inflammatories DO HELP…yet upset my GI tract. Since this is local, less is absorbed to cause me any upset. Although the price without insurance can be high, some doctors have samples.

    Voltaren Gel…is a prescription gel anti inflammatory prescription also containing the medicine Diclofenac, Again since it’s topical, so there is usually less GI upset, and the price varies…yet again doctors may have samples to try and then you can decide if it’s worth the cost. There is also a liquid oil product with the same medicine…these are good for areas that a patch won’t fit or would be to hard to stick to. (There’s no real adhesive in the patch, it’s just the medicine that actually adheres it.)

    .

    • sharonne Lincoln says:

      Voltaren is now in generic: Diclofenac Sodium. 100 g tube lasts me a month for 3 body areas x up to 4 x daily @ $7.00 co-pay with ins. It absorbs quickly; medicinal smells dissipates fast.-A Fibro survivor of 30 yrs. plus.

  13. Rosemary Gerrard says:

    Hi Donna,from Australia. …I have always read your posts and really enjoy helpful hints…I am settling on magnesium,viramin D, taking tramadol slow release for other pain but helps in making relief allround…I did speak with my G.P. about ‘low dose naltrexone ‘ but llowest dose can get here is 50mg….I am happy where I am now and we are moviing to new area to live so will be able to “move more”eg walking more freely so looking forward to all the new changes….keep up your good work…cheers Rosemary.

  14. Water! It is relatively inexpensive (unless you really have to have the fancy bottled stuff). But my body tells me when I am not drinking enough water.

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