Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can cause a wide range of issues throughout the body. It’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50, and 80% to 90% of the people affected are women. One of the most common and debilitating symptoms is burning pain. Other common symptoms include fatigue, memory problems, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety.
The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown and there is no cure, so treatments are directed at reducing and managing the symptoms. Because of the wide range of symptoms, fibromyalgia requires a multi-faceted approach. First, it’s important to have a thorough medical exam to rule out other conditions that might be causing or contributing to the symptoms such as an infection, Lyme disease, thyroid problems, metabolic disease or side effects from medication. A specialist such as a rheumatologist can help people with fibromyalgia with medications.
Another important member of the treatment team is a physical therapist, who help people with fibromyalgia by providing education, manual therapy, and specific exercises. Physical therapists provide education to help the patient understand the mechanisms of their chronic pain and how to better cope with it. Research has shown that people who are knowledgeable about their condition have better outcomes, more confidence, and are able to restore their functional abilities.
A physical therapist may use gentle manual therapy or massage to help with the pain and stiffness. Specific stretches or a simple yoga routine may be recommended. Use of modalities like electrical stimulation, moist heat, or dry needling may also help with pain management.
Once patients understand the condition and are able to move a little better with less pain, exercise programs can gradually be progressed. Research has shown that low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise including walking, biking, or swimming is important in managing fibromyalgia symptoms. It can help with pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. Physical therapists and patients work together to find the right type of exercise and the right intensity to best manage fibromyalgia.
Despite there still being no cure for fibromyalgia, when patients work with their medical team and physical therapist, they can find relief from their symptoms.
Northern Rehab‘s physical therapists are trained to treat Fibromyalgia and will work one-on-one with each patient to reach their goals and to meet their expectations. You don’t have to live with pain; if you are interested in beginning physical therapy or would like more information, please contact us at 815.756.8524.