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Improving Each Patient’s Quality of Life.

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, there’s no question, you know exactly how it feels. And it’s painful.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

But did you know that physical therapy is a treatment option you can explore? Here’s more on the disorder itself and physical therapy as a treatment option.

The Symptoms?

Sometimes, symptoms will develop after physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms will gradually progress over time with no known, single triggering event. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.

Many people with fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

Specific symptoms include:

  • Widespread Pain—often described as a constant, dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered “widespread,” the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
  • Fatigue—people with fibromyalgia often awake tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Their sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • Cognitive Difficulties— commonly referred to as “fibro fog,” it impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.

The Treatment?

Though there is no one treatment that works for all symptoms, fibromyalgia symptoms can be minimized through medication, self-care and physical therapy.

Physical Therapy As A Treatment Option

A physical therapist can help you understand and manage the pain, reduce fatigue and improve quality of life through helping you reach increased function.

This is no easy task.

“Living with fibromyalgia can be challenging,” the American Physical Therapy Association reports. “Your pain and other symptoms might take different forms from day to day. If you avoid activity because of pain, your overall physical fitness might be decreased.”

But extensive research shows that physical therapy-prescribed aerobic and strengthening exercises can help improve fibromyalgia. A physical therapist can help teach you how to understand the pain of living with the disorder and how to manage it.

Symptoms can be managed through exercises prescribed by a physical therapist. Reducing body mass index, in fact, can even reduce the risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Research has shown that the following treatments can decrease pain and improve function, general health, and sleep in people with fibromyalgia:

  • Aerobic conditioning
  • Stretching to relieve pain and make the muscles more flexible
  • Strengthening exercise
  • Manual therapy to increase range of motion
  • Dry needling
  • Massage therapy to increase blood flow to tissues and promote muscle relaxation
  • Aquatic therapy and exercise

A physical therapist can design an exercise program specific for you and your symptoms.

Patients with fibromyalgia may also suffer from tendinitis and arthritis, which a physical therapist can also help address.

In addition to educating yourself, you may find it helpful to provide your family, friends and co-workers with information to help them learn more about the disorder. Send them this web page.

Many of the physical therapists at Tidewater Physical Therapy Inc. hold Direct Access Certification through the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy allowing them to evaluate and treat patients without a prescription. As part of your healthcare team, a physical therapist will make an assessment of your condition and create a plan to start you on the road to wellness. Our team will communicate with your physician of record and obtain a referral, if necessary, for your continued treatment. We will also work with your insurance carrier to make sure services are covered by your plan.

To make your own appointment, find a clinic near you.