July 4th, 2012

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes musculoskeletal pain associated with lack of sleep, mood issues, memory loss and fatigue. Women are more prone to develop this condition. Patients who have this condition also tend to have anxiety, depression, tension headaches, TMJ disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

Fibromyalgia is associated with tender points which hurt when pressed. These tender points are located at the back of the head, front sides of the neck, between shoulder blades, upper part of the chest, at the top of the shoulders, outer part of the elbows, inner knees, and upper part and sides of the hips.

Physical Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Stretching can increase the flexibility of stiff and tight muscles. Proper stretching exercises provided by a board-certified physical therapist can provide relief to pain caused by fibromyalgia.

Aerobic exercise can also provide relief. The best aerobic exercises for fibromyalgia are low-impact and low speed activities. Using elliptical machines and stationary bicycles are effective since it causes less stress on joints.

Aqua therapy is another effective treatment for fibromyalgia. Exercising in a heated pool can be beneficial and soothing to sore muscles. The buoy of the water lessens the stress on the joints and the muscles as continued exercises increases flexibility.

There are also tools that a physical therapist can use to treat fibromyalgia. The physical therapist can use deep tissue massage, TENS units, ultrasound, strengthening, stretching and pain relief exercises, and water aerobics.

TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation helps by stimulating the nerve fibers to decrease pain. It helps to block the pain signals send to the spinal cord, it helps the body to release its own pain-killing chemicals and also improves circulation and contraction of muscles for healing and relaxation.

One of the benefits of physical therapy for fibromyalgia is allowing the patient to learn specific exercises that can be done at home on a regular basis. The physical therapist can come up with a treatment plan specific to fibromyalgia. He or she will also document the patients progress and analyzes whether the patient is cooperating and doing the agreed upon home exercises.

Proper self-care is vital in managing fibromyalgia. Strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility through regular exercise help reduce pain and help the patient maintain a normal life. It is wise not to overdo exercises as it can make a patient feel worse. Eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is highly recommended.