Weighted blankets are becoming a popular tool for health and wellness professionals. They’re popularized by the fact they treat problems like insomnia, stress, and anxiety. But, now, according to research, health professionals are recommending weighted blankets to sufferers of fibromyalgia.
Over 10 million Americans suffer from this painful condition. This condition includes having uncomfortable aches and pains all over the body. It's no wonder why most sufferers find it extremely hard to deal with.
We understand living with fibro pains can be challenging. We understand having the disease can also make it hard to sleep at times. Most people go the route of medication but as we all know, there are always side effects that come along with medication for fibromyalgia.
If you’re looking for an effective holistic approach to managing the pain of fibromyalgia then you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll explore how weighted blankets can help patients with fibromyalgia and everything you need to know to maximize the effectiveness of a weighted blanket for fibro pains.
What is Fibromyalgia And How Does It Impact Your Life?
Even though fibromyalgia is the second most commonly reported muscle and bone condition in America, it’s still misunderstood by most healthcare professionals. Most people living with fibromyalgia go years without being diagnosed.
According to a study, close to 70% of fibro sufferers go years without being undiagnosed. As most of our readers and customers are women, it’s been reported by The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) that 90 percent of people suffering from fibromyalgia are women. To make things worse, it’s also a disease that’s inherently hard to diagnose.
According to WebMD, the main reason why fibromyalgia is so difficult to diagnose is due to its similarities to conditions such as osteoarthritis, bursitis, and more commonly, tendinitis. The only reported differences are each of the related diseases target a specific part of the body while fibromyalgia is a widespread pain/stiffness throughout the body.
Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Chronic tiredness
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Mind-numbing headaches
- Extreme sensitivity to heat and cold temperatures
- Frequent urges to urination
- Dry mouth.
- Extreme to mild brain fog (sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”)
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for fibromyalgia. This disease is extremely difficult to diagnose, it’s difficult to recommend the right medical treatment for patients suffering from this disease. There have been reports that some of the drug prescription's side effects are more painful than the actual disease.
Some of the side-effects of commonly prescribed drugs include:
- Mild dizziness
- Hypertension in the muscles
- Dry eyes, mouth, and nose
- Extreme weight gain
Ironically, if you read the symptoms listed above, you’ll notice some side-effects mimic the actual symptoms of fibromyalgia. When you use a weighted blanket, you’re not going to have to worry about this. This is why it’s recommended to use a weighted blanket to help with fibro pains. This is you need to understand why occupational therapists have been recommending weighted blankets to treat fibromyalgia in record numbers throughout the years.
The History and Science Behind a Weighted Blanket
It may seem like weighted blankets are a new trend but that’s farthest from the truth. Weighted blankets have been a popular therapeutic tool for the last 20 years. These amazing blankets were used as tools to help children suffering from autism, anxiety and sensory processing disorders.
The reason why occupational therapists used this tool for children was due to the Deep Touch Pressure Technology embedded in the blankets. This technology caused a feeling of being hugged when used. This lead to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and insomnia for young children.
Years ago, it was extremely difficult to find a weighted blanket. Through the years, many patients made their own. If you looked back in the history of the weighted blanket, the first mass production was introduced in the late 1990s. The target market was mainly children but now, it's not the case. It’s now marketed and recommended to all ages - adult and children.
If you’re still confused by the term weighted blanket, you may have heard them being referred to in different terms. You may have come across some of the terms below:
- Anxiety blanket
- Therapeutic blanket
- Heavy blanket
- Gravity blanket
In a 2008 study in the journal of the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, researchers evaluated 33 growth adults, each napping under a 30-pound weighted blanket for 5-minutes. After 5 minutes, the results were astounding. 33% of the participants reported a greater drop in their stress levels, 19% reported felt calmer with the blanket, and 8 of the individuals said they were indifferent. Crazy enough, only 3 of the participants felt more anxious with the blanket. This may be a small study but the results definitely show the real benefits of the weighted blanket.
The Real Question: Can A Weighted Blanket Help Fibromyalgia?
The answer is yes, weighted blankets can help ease symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Many fibro sufferers have widely reported having sleeping issues due to the disease. Sadly, with poorer sleep habits comes higher alleviations of pain. This is why weighted blankets are recommended to sufferers of fibromyalgia. It’s a tool designed to get you to sleep faster, longer and deeper. This will give you the proper rest needed to help ease the symptoms of fibro.
Fibro patients also deal with anxiety as well which is another condition weighted blankets help with. You not only get rid of your physical pain but you’ll also get rid of your unwanted anxiety.
If you’re also asking, “what about my pressure points?” then you’ll also be happy to know, weighted blankets address that as well. We understand this is a common issue among fibro sufferers. If you think the added weight of a weighted blanket will make your pressure points worse - you’re wrong.
A weighted blanket may not be able to reduce the sensitivity of your pressure points but they won’t make them worse. If anything, they’ll help sooth over the areas in question.
What Else Can I Do?
Very good question! According to Dr. Josh Axe, besides using a weighted blanket, there are other natural holistic alternatives to help manage your fibromyalgia pain. Note: We recommend you use a weighted blanket AND follow Dr. Josh Axe’s advice to help assist in your journey to take control of your fibromyalgia. According to his article, here recommends the following:
- Start with a healthy diet
- Increase the in-take of vitamins
- Use Essential oils
- Become more physically active.
Research has shown that an increase in serotonin has helped reduce pain in fibromyalgia patients. Weighted blankets are not only a holistic way of managing fibromyalgia but also a side-effect free solution. Furthermore, weighted blankets help increase oxytocin levels in patients.
According to another study it has been reported that “grounding” individuals with while they slept reduced cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Furthermore, boosting serotonin levels in the individual's saliva contents. Clearly, with the use of a weighted blanket, fibromyalgia sufferers may find relief in regards to pain, fatigue and low energy levels.
As any fibromyalgia patient will tell you, chronic fatigue is one of the most debilitating symptoms of the disease. As WebMD notes, “Severe fatigue — more than just being tired — affects up to 4 out of 5 people with fibromyalgia. It often goes hand-in-hand with sleepless nights. Together, they leave you drained and exhausted.”
If your fibromyalgia involves insomnia and chronic fatigue, a weighted blanket may help you fall asleep faster and experience more restorative sleep. In the study that found an increase in serotonin levels in patients who used a weighted blanket, researchers also found “measurable improvements in diurnal cortisol profiles...with cortisol levels significantly reduced during night-time sleep.” The results of the study indicated that “grounding the human body to earth [with a weighted blanket] during sleep improves sleep and reduces pain and stress.”
How to Choose the Right Weighted Blanket For Your Fibro Pains?
All weighted blankets are not the same. If you go to our guide, you’ll understand the difference between a good weighted blanket and a bad one. If you’re a hot sleeper, we recommend getting a weighted blanket that’s made from materials like cotton, baboo, minky, or fleece due to the breathability factor. Heat makes aches and pain worse. Get a weighted blanket that has the above materials to help get the weight weighted blanket.
From our experience, it’s best to get a weighted blanket with glass-bead fillings instead of plastic pellets. Glass-beads spread throughout the blanket better and aren’t as harsh on the skin. They'll be more accommodating to your pressure points. Click here to get on today!