Benefits of Physical Therapy for Fibromyalgia
The benefits of physical therapy for fibromyalgia-affected patients are more crucial today than ever. Fibromyalgia affects millions of people worldwide, but despite advancements in medical techniques and diagnosis, it continues to be an underdiagnosed chronic pain syndrome in Canada and other countries. It's believed that about 75% of active fibromyalgia cases go undiagnosed worldwide, which suggests that the number of people currently suffering from this ailment is higher than the data suggests.
It's currently estimated that fibromyalgia affects about 900,000 Canadians today.
Physical therapy for fibromyalgia often involves a combination of treatments for symptom improvement.
Physical therapists and experts have proven that exercises, manual therapy techniques, and lifestyle modifications help manage pain and improve physical function in fibro patients. Working with a physical therapist with experience treating people with fibromyalgia is essential, as they can help develop an appropriate plan and monitor progress over time.
What is fibromyalgia?
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes pain, tenderness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. It's considered a rheumatic disease, which refers to conditions that affect joints, tendons, muscles, and bones. Unlike other diseases in this group, fibromyalgia doesn't cause inflammation but rather widespread pain that has yet to be understood by researchers.
This chronic pain disorder affects about 2-4% of Canadians, most of whom are women between the ages of 30-50, but is also seen in men, teenagers, and children. It's difficult to pinpoint an exact prevalence number since physicians often overlook this disease and misdiagnose it.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Doctors and researchers have yet to discover what causes this disorder, but it most likely involves various factors and triggers like genes, infections, illnesses, and physical or emotional trauma. Some theories suggest Fibro is caused by altered and disproportionate levels of certain brain chemicals in charge of dealing with normal pain responses.
In short, when a person has fibromyalgia, their response to pain is altered and amplified, leading to abnormal and heightened pain sensations and discomfort in the body.
What are the most common Fibromyalgia symptoms?
Since fibromyalgia is a widespread pain disorder that affects many different areas and functions of the body, symptoms vary from person to person. These symptoms include the following:
Extended pain in the joints, muscles, and bones, especially in the arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, and back.
Fatigue or overwhelming exhaustion.
Chronic insomnia and difficulty sleeping.
Tenderness to the touch.
"Fibro fog" or difficulty concentrating on menial tasks or paying attention.
The list of symptoms fibromyalgia can cause is extensive.
Though the symptoms mentioned above occur more commonly, other symptoms can appear, such as:
Migraines and headaches
Constipation and disturbed bowel movements
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Heightened sensitivity to light, noise, smells, and temperature changes.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Since it's still a disease that has yet to be studied to completion, there are no specific lab or imaging tests used to diagnose fibromyalgia. The most critical step before diagnosing Fibro is discarding other conditions like Arthritis and Lupus. Examining and identifying tender points used to be the method of diagnosis. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, newer advancements in the identification of this disease call for certain factors:
Widespread pain in your body for at least three months.
Pain in four of these five areas:
Left upper region, like the left shoulder, left arm, or jaw.
Right upper region, also including the right shoulder, right arm, or jaw
Left lower region, like the hip, buttocks, or left leg.
Right lower region, including hip, buttock, or right leg.
Axial region, which includes the neck, back, chest, and abdomen.
Is physiotherapy a good fibromyalgia treatment?
Anyone who suffers from this disease can benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapy for fibromyalgia can help reduce stiffness and fatigue and promote pain relief through alternative methods in conjunction with your physician-appointed treatment. With a licensed physical therapist, patients can receive personalized programs oriented toward specific symptoms, restoring normal functions, improving mobility, and preventing or limiting permanent disabilities.
The uses of physical therapy for fibromyalgia.
Physical therapy or physiotherapy can significantly benefit people suffering from fibromyalgia. Physical therapists and experts will use varying techniques to help reduce pain stimulation, provide stiffness relief, and improve the quality of life for those suffering from chronic pain and other rheumatic diseases.
It's important to note that practiced professionals like the ones at Somerset Family Chiropractic should do all physical therapy treatments. Our experts will give patients a personalized rapport on the necessary guidelines and techniques for their symptoms. Treatments and physical therapy techniques like hydrotherapy, TENS unit therapy, and aerobic exercises are among the most commonly used methods to treat fibromyalgia in wellness centers.
Hydrotherapy stimulates your body with the application of cold compresses and hot compresses that reduce swelling and diminish pain in problem areas. Increased blood flow, oxygen, and other nutrients help by providing short-term relief of fibromyalgia symptoms.
Low Impact Aerobic Exercises
According to the Canadian Guidelines for the Management of Fibromyalgia, aerobic exercises improve physical capacity and the overall symptoms of this disease. People with fibromyalgia should participate in an exercise program to improve their overall health and diminish the effects of their symptoms.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massages are notorious for releasing pent-up muscle tension. Patients with fibromyalgia can greatly benefit from a deep tissue massage, primarily when personalized and trigger point oriented.
Stretching and strengthening exercises
By stimulating your nervous system and relieving tightened knots in your muscles, physical therapy-appointed stretching and strengthening exercises can help diminish a fibro patient's pain. Increasing blood flow, releasing endorphins, and stimulating your nervous system will activate your mind, reduce fatigue, and mask and alleviate body pain considerably.
TENS units TENS units refer to transcutaneous electrical stimulation or electrical pulses that are applied to the body using small electrodes that activate and stimulate the nervous system and muscles. A study by theInternational Association for the Study of Pain found that 30% of patients with fibromyalgia found a decrease in pain during rest and movement, and 20% found a reduction in fatigue.
Ultrasound therapy is also used for several other painful conditions using an ultrasound probe and a transmission coupling gel. A physical therapist will sweep sore and stiff areas of the body and emit waves through the skin that will cause it to vibrate. The ultrasound transmits heat that enhances blood flow and oxygen transport to deeper tissues. Ultrasound can help decrease pain, inflammation, stiffness, and muscle spasms.
Let us help treat your chronic pain. Hire a physical therapist today.
If you're looking for practical, alternative techniques to treat your fibromyalgia pain, Somerset Family Chiropractic's approach to fibromyalgia will grant you the relief you've been looking for. If you're in the Ajax, Ontario, area, call us today and ask about our physiotherapy services. We want to be part of your pain relief journey.