Fibromyalgia is a mysterious and painful disease. It impacts the lives of over 12 million individuals living in the United States.
Nearly 5 percent of women and 1.6 percent of men between the age of 35 and 55 suffer from this disease that affects the muscles and tendons, joints and even the patient’s outlook on life.
The main symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include pain and aches, anxiety and depression.
It is not fully understand what the root cause of the disease is but it is known that certain medications, both obtainable through prescription (i.e. Cymbalta, Savella and Lyrica), over the counter (i.e. Mucinex, Robitussin and other cough and cold expectorants), or on an experimental basis (i.e. Peripheral Nerve Stimulation, Naltrexone and Guaifenesin) help reduce the more painful aspects of the disease.
It is also though that a program of physical activity, such as that associated with physical therapy, can help reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia over a long period of time.
Patients found to be energetic and active reduce some of the stress and even pain associated with the disease as well as instilling a sense of purpose and thus reducing the level of depression and anxiety that comes with fibromyalgia.
What Licensed Professionals Have to Say About Physical Therapy
One of the certain benefits of engaging in physical therapy and pursuing an active life by fibromyalgia patients is a renewed energy and sense of purpose.
Patients suffering from fibromyalgia find that being active makes life enjoyable and redirects thoughts of pain and helplessness that come with the disease especially when some of the medicinal cures do not prove effective or long lasting.
Being physically active addresses an interesting paradoxes associated with the disease. Individuals who suffer from the pain and stress of fibromyalgia are typically unable to perform physical activities; however inactivity only prolongs and worsens the symptoms associated with the disease. To exercise or not to exercise, that is the question!
Benefits Associated with Being Physically Active
Being physically active can provide the benefit of promoting more restful sleep, which is sorely needed by those who suffer from the effects of this mysterious ailment.
The pain and stress associated with the symptoms of fibromyalgia leads to disruptive sleep and the feeling of being tired (fatigued), which is also a symptom of fibromyalgia.
Employing the services of a physical therapist and engaging in a regular and disciplined regiment of physical activity helps promote tiredness, reduce physical fatigue and may also reduce the need for certain receptor blockers and other pain medication taken by a fibromyalgia sufferer.
Starting a program of regular exercise as found in a physical therapy regiment may be difficult and scary at first.
This is especially true for an individual who has never devoted a lot of time in physical activity and exercise.
To overcome this, a program of physical therapy should be tailored to your symptoms and level of physical activity.
The goal is to reduce the painful effects of the disease, but no program can start at the very top or peak performance level.
Engaging in a Program of Physical Therapy
There are studies that support the notion that the engagement in a program of physical activity with a physical therapist, even of small at first, has an overall positive affect on mood and how they function in life. This has shown to be true even a half a year after the work with a physical therapist has ceased.
Options of Physical Therapy that Provide Relief from Fibromyalgia
Some of the physical therapy options the provide relief from the debilitating effects of fibromyalgia involve increases in flexibility and strengthening of muscles and tendons, which are impacted the most by the disease.
Common exercises shown to be helpful are stretching exercises, low impact aerobics and aqua or water sports.
As mentioned, increasing flexibility is important for fibromyalgia sufferers. A series of stretching exercises, designed to warm up and loosen muscles can provide relief.
The physical therapist works with you on an approach to stretching that helps you learn the proper and effective ways to stretch muscles, tendon and ligaments in your body.
Repetitions, according to a recommendation from the National Pain Foundation, should be no more than 5 to 10, although stretches held for a period of one half to one full minute (30 to 60 seconds each) may only need to be repeated one or two more times.
Aerobic and aqua exercises also provide relief to the joints and muscles. A low impact aerobic regiment designed for you by a physical therapist can reduce a lot of the pain associated with the disease.
These exercises can involve such machines as an elliptical machine or stationary bicycle. As for water exercises kicks and low impact workouts in a heated pool can produce tremendous results for the fibromyalgia sufferer.
How to Choose a Physical Therapist to Deal with Fibromyalgia Pain
When looking to start a program of physical therapist, there are some steps to take in order to find the right person, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Here are some of the tips that the association recommends you follow:
– Licensing – is the physical therapist licensed by a licensing examining board? If you plan on entrusting your care in the hands of a person who is going to persuade you to do things to your body that you are not use to doing, it is probably a good idea that the person go through some training and demonstrate their knowledge through some standardize testing.
– Referral – ask for references and referrals of others that have worked with the therapist. Is the physical therapist flexible or rigid with their scheduling?
Do they have a good reputation with their patients and clients? Have they worked with sufferers of fibromyalgia? These are all good questions to consider and get answers to before working with a physical therapist.
– Insurance – it is important to find out if the person accepts your insurance (and if physical therapy as a course of treatment for your fibromyalgia is covered by your insurance).
If the answer is no, you will have to come out of pocket for the sessions that you schedule with the physical therapist.