What is Fibromyalgia and how can physical therapy help?
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain. Many people dealing with fibromyalgia, mainly women between the ages of 25-50, also experience fatigue, sleep, memory and mood difficulties. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s thought to be due to changes in how the nervous system processes pain. It might be triggered by trauma, surgery, infection, arthritis, or major emotional stress, or it may develop gradually over time.
Living with fibromyalgia is not easy, your pain and other symptoms may vary from day to day making it difficult to complete tasks throughout the day. Research has shown that the when a Fibromyalgia patient is properly educated and prescribed an aerobic and strengthening exercise program it can to help to manage symptoms, but fear of the pain becoming worse often keeps people from beginning an exercise program. In physical therapy a patient will be taught how to understand their pain signals and how to manage and decrease their symptoms through a customized exercise
Regular, moderate exercise along with proper diet are important aspects to helping manage fibromyalgia. In physical therapy the patient will be evaluated to determine what is correct treatment approach for them, which may include:
- Manual Therapy to decrease soft tissue restrictions and improve joint mobility
- Aerobic conditioning such as walking, biking, elliptical.
- Stretching program to improve muscle elasticity and flexibility.
- Aquatic exercise to strengthen, improve cardiovascular endurance and stretch in a buoyancy assisted environment to decrease pressure place upon joints making it easier and less painful to exercise.
- Deep breathing techniques to improve relaxation and decrease stress.
- Modalities such as the application of heating or cold packs and/or a TENS unit to help decrease pain in certain areas.
Everyone’s severity of the disorder is different and incorporating new treatments or changes in lifestyle should be done gradually to not increase “flare ups.” Before engaging in a new exercises program or diet consult with a Physician and/or participate in physical therapy to learn how control symptoms.
Kerra Pietsch, LPTA
Andover Physical Therapy
PTC_therapy April 23rd, 2015
Posted In: General