Fibromyalgia is one of those mystery diagnoses. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose and affects almost 5 million people in the United States; 80% to 90% are women. Fibromyalgia usually is diagnosed in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, but the symptoms—such as widespread chronic pain and fatigue—can show up earlier. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it's thought to be due to changes in how the nervous system processes pain. Fibromyalgia might be triggered by trauma, surgery, infection, arthritis, or major emotional stress, or it may develop gradually over time.
Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome with many wide-ranging symptoms. The extensive list of symptoms includes: widespread body pain, tender points, muscle stiffness, headaches, memory problems, fatigue, depression, anxiety, TMD, IBS, difficulty sleeping, numbness and tingling. As with most auto-immune diseases, stress makes Fibromyalgia worse.
There isn’t a cure for Fibromyalgia and as such, the main goal in physical therapy is symptom relief, pain management and improvement of function in day to day activities.
5 Physical therapy treatments for Fibromyalgia
- Ultrasound/TENS combo: Research has shown that a combination of ultrasound and TENS, or combination therapy machines, are successful in reducing muscle aches and disturbed sleep associated with Fibromyalgia. Ultrasound works by emitting sound waves from a hand-held wand that penetrates between 1 and 2 inches deep into soft tissue. These sound waves can increase heat and improve circulation in the region, relax muscles, and heal tissues. TENS units work by applying two pads placed on an area of discomfort. The small unit emits an electric signal activating the natural opioid pain-relieving system in the body.
Both TENs and Ultrasound Can be Applied with a Combo Therapy Machine.
- Underwater treadmill: Building strength and stamina help improve function, general health and quality of sleep in Fibromyalgia patients.Working in water is gentler on the joints but no less effective than other exercise activities, allowing Fibromyalgia patients to reap the benefits of exercise they may have avoided due to joint pain.
- Biofeedback: A study published in The Indian Journal of Medical Sciences found biofeedback helped reduce pain in both the entire body and in tender points as well as improved stamina and function in daily activities. By measuring bodily functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, sweat gland activity, and muscle tension, biofeedback devices raise patients' awareness of what their body is doing in real time, helping the patient gain control of their nervous system’s automatic responses.
- Manual therapy: Light, gentle massage is beneficial for easing the muscular symptoms of Fibromyalgia. In addition to easing muscle aches, massage improves the body’s circulation. Also, since Fibromyalgia may be triggered by stress, massage aids in full body relaxation which helps ease the patient’s reaction to stress.
- Whirlpool Therapy: Whirlpool therapy has three main healing ingredients; heat, buoyancy, and massage. Research has shown the health benefits of immersion in warm water include: relaxation of muscles, lowering of blood pressure, and loosening of joints. With Fibromyalgia patients, whirlpool therapy decreases muscle pain, improves range of motion and lower’s the patient’s stress response.
Whitehall Designs Whirlpools that Fit The Whole Body which are
Ideal for Patients Suffering From Fibromyalgia.
With any chronic condition, the main concern is always being able to live a full life. With the myriad symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia, it is necessary to approach treatment in a wide-ranging way to address the diverse issues associated with the syndrome. In doing so, we help patients not merely manage the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, but to thrive.
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