What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical condition that is characterized by a pervasive sensation of pain throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue. This condition affects nearly 5 million people in the United States. Between 80-90% of those who have fibromyalgia are women who were initially diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.
Unfortunately, the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Current wisdom on the condition suggests that it is related to changes or interference with the nervous system’s ability to process pain. Many believe that trauma, surgery, infection, auto-immune disease, and significant emotional stress can trigger the condition. People who have rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and lupus erythematosus have a high risk of developing fibromyalgia.
Due to the limited understanding about the condition, fibromyalgia does not have a cure, but there are promising treatments that can improve a patient’s ability to deal with the symptoms.
Fibromyalgia can be categorized aptly as a syndrome involving multiple symptoms and conditions, rather than a single comprehensive disorder.
Common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include:
- A generalized sensation of pain throughout the body;
- Muscle stiffness;
- Tender spots throughout the body;
- Abdominal cramping;
- Temporomandibular (jaw) pain;
- Disrupted cognition;
- Numbness and tingling;
- Irritable bowel syndrome; and
- Irritable bladder syndrome.
How Doctors Diagnose Fibromyalgia
Due to the lack of knowledge surrounding fibromyalgia, there are no reliable physiological or biological testing methods that definitively lead to a diagnosis. Furthermore, since many medical conditions can cause any number of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, it is vital to undergo comprehensive medical assessments by an experienced medical professional to eliminate the possibility that other conditions are causing your symptoms.
Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia
A licensed physical therapist with specialized training in current methods of evaluating and identifying fibromyalgia can make a diagnosis. Dealing with fibromyalgia can be difficult. Because the symptoms can manifest in different parts of the body in various ways, it is difficult to craft a routine treatment plan that directly addresses the symptoms.
Fibromyalgia patients may be tempted to rely on opioid medication since opiates actively interfere with a person’s pain receptors throughout their nervous system. However, prolonged opioid use can actually result in increased sensitivity to pain, as a person’s pain receptors become more sensitive to stimulation. Given the laundry list of risks that come with frequent and prolonged use of opioid medication, the interests of fibromyalgia patients are better served through alternative pain management techniques.
Leading research on fibromyalgia indicates that aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activities help improve fibromyalgia symptoms. A physical therapist can guide you through a treatment plan based on these exercises, using methods of identifying and interpretation pain sensations, so you can begin a customized treatment program that will not be disrupted by your shifting symptoms.
The following treatments have demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in improving fibromyalgia symptoms:
- Aerobic exercises
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Aquatic activities
- Manual therapy
Our Monmouth County Physical Therapists Are Here to Help
If you have been dealing with fibromyalgia, you are confronted with unyielding pain on a daily basis. Every new day is another battle. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, our licensed physiotherapists in Aberdeen are ready to assist you. We provide our patients with individualized attention and care, using the most current treatment techniques in fibromyalgia care. By providing you with the best therapeutic experience possible, we strive to maximize your quality of life by teaching you effective pain management techniques.