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Physical Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a common condition that affects the muscles and bones and can cause pain and tenderness. Thankfully, physical therapy can help.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. It tends to cause a lot of pain, and it’s believed that the excessive feelings of pain are due to the condition causing issues with the way the brain processes its signals.
In the United States, about 4 million adults deal with fibromyalgia.
While the cause isn’t known, women tend to suffer from this disease more frequently than men. Some people develop symptoms of fibromyalgia after a traumatic physical event, while others develop symptoms gradually over time with no real “trigger” to cause them.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia, and how it can be treated in order to improve your quality of life.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The most common symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain all over the body. It can start off as a sort of dull aching throughout the body, but the difference between fibromyalgia pain and pain caused by something else is that it is usually constant. It doesn’t go away, even after months. This is usually what presses people to get an official diagnosis.
Some of the other common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include:
- Sleep issues
- Digestive issues
- Tingling/numbness in the hands and feet
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia can also impact your mental health. It is often associated with depression and anxiety, and there is something called “fibro fog” that refers to the way fibromyalgia often makes it difficult to concentrate or stay focused.
Fibromyalgia is also often found to be in co-existence with other conditions that can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, including chronic migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and joint disorders.
As you can see, there are a lot of potential symptoms involved with fibromyalgia. The major problem is that they can impact everyone differently. You might not have all of these symptoms, or they might not be as severe for you as they are for someone else.
How is it Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, the early symptoms of fibromyalgia, like pain and fatigue, can be associated with a lot of different conditions. So, you might think you’re dealing with something that will go away on its own.
The best thing you can do if you experience any of the symptoms above is to go to your family doctor or physical therapist right away. Physical therapists can start to treat the pain while you are awaiting an official diagnosis. Clinicians that are familiar with the condition may be able to make an accurate diagnosis, but it’s best to get a referral to a rheumatologist for an official diagnosis of the condition.
Typically, a rheumatologist will ask about your family health history as well as your own. They will want to know about your symptoms in detail. They may feel around on the back of your neck, your shoulders, knees, and hips for any tender spots, as that can be a sign of fibromyalgia. Because there are many other common symptoms of fibromyalgia that can be associated with other illnesses, it’s also likely that your rheumatologist will want to take a blood sample and check for inflammation.
Can It Be Treated?
If you spend any time watching television, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a share of commercials specifically dedicated to fibromyalgia medications. In these commercials, people are depicted as being in constant pain, with a limited quality of life.
While the portrayals of people struggling with fibromyalgia are fairly accurate in these commercials, medication isn’t the only form of treatment for the disease. In fact, things like talk therapy and even stress reduction techniques can help some people to manage their symptoms and feel less pain on a daily basis.
But, according to the American College of Rheumatology, the best form of treatment is physical exercise. Even if you do choose to take medication for your fibromyalgia, supplementing it with exercise will make it easier to manage your symptoms.
Physical therapy for fibromyalgia can include several different types of treatment in order to manage pain. Physical therapists can use anything from medical massage to heat therapy in order to help those suffering from fibromyalgia. They also teach patients how to better manage their symptoms of pain and discomfort at home through various stretches and exercises. The goal of physical therapy isn’t to require a patient to see a therapist forever. Rather, it is to give those patients the skills and resources needed to continue physical therapy on their own.
The good news? The effects of fibromyalgia can go away for many people, especially those who have experienced symptoms for under two years before seeking out treatment. For this reason, seeking a physical therapist’s help right away is crucial. For others, the pain associated with fibromyalgia may come and go. These waves are called “flare-ups”. A typical flare-up can last anywhere from a few days, to up to two weeks. During that time, the pain can be incredibly severe, but that is where physical therapy can help the most, especially if you’ve learned techniques you can do at home to alleviate that pain.
More good news? Fibromyalgia is, indeed, a chronic condition. But, it is not a progressive condition. That means it does not necessarily mean it will continue to get worse over time. And, despite the pain it may cause, it doesn’t do any lasting damage to your joints or muscles. The main issue people with the condition face is managing their pain, whether it comes during a flare-up or it seems to constantly be there.
If you’re dealing with fibromyalgia and you’re tired of it negatively impacting your quality of life, contact The Holistic Healing Center for more information or to set up an appointment with a physical therapist as soon as possible. Living with pain is never something that should be taken lightly, and we can give you the resources you need to manage that pain from fibromyalgia on a daily basis. Our facility has experts that treat this complex condition successfully. We are committed to helping you feel your best as soon as possible, addressing the complex mind, body and spiritual needs of each person. Call us at 732-252-6155 or email us to learn more or book an appointment with one of our specialists. No script is required and most insurance plans cover our services.
Meet Our Fibromyalgia Team
Dr. Nancy specializes in myofascial unwinding, trigger point therapy, craniosacral work, lymphedema, and women's health.
Dr. Raj specializes in sports medicine, orthopedics, joint mobilization, and the McKenzie technique for the neck and back.