Fibromyalgia affects approximately 5% of the general population. Categorized as a chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia causes pain, stiffness, and tenderness throughout the joints, muscles, and tendons, without apparent inflammation or injury. Despite the common opinion that there is no cure, physiotherapy combined with lifestyle changes can reduce and possibly eliminate the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Researchers and doctors have not exactly pinpointed the cause of fibromyalgia. However, it has been suggested, through many studies, that fibromyalgia pain occurs due to an oversensitivity of the brain’s pain receptors. Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia have an unusual increase in chemicals in the brain, also known as neurotransmitters, which cause pain. In turn, the receptors in the brain become more responsive to these signals creating a heightened response to pain signals. This leads to the symptoms associated with the disorder. Symptoms include widespread muscle pain or tightness (sometimes this can be localized to particular spots called tender points), fatigue, trouble sleeping, and difficulty concentrating, often called ‘fibro fog.’
Although much is unknown about fibromyalgia, certain predispositions can increase an individual’s risk of having it. Those with arthritis, those with anxiety or depression disorder, those with other individuals in their family that have it, or those that lack exercise all have an increased risk of suffering from fibromyalgia. Further, the disorder is more common in women than it is in men.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can help decrease the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia through manual therapies, exercise, and education. At Aquafit Physiotherapy, our therapists can provide education involving a general understanding of your symptoms. Knowing what triggers symptoms and pain can help in preventative measures to reduce the occurrence. Strategies, such as stress management via exercise or other means, can be devolved from this. Further, having a general understanding of what causes flare-ups can help reduce anxiety or stress associated with more painful episodes.
Physiotherapy can further include massage techniques and joint mobilization. Massage can help relax the muscles and increase blood flow to more tender spots. Joint mobilization, targeting more tender and painful areas, can decrease joint stiffness, reduce muscle tightness, and ease tenderness and pain. Other modalities may include ultrasound therapy, laser and electrotherapy, and hydrotherapy.
Hydrotherapy has proven to be particularly useful in the treatment of fibromyalgia. At Aquafit Physiotherapy, we offer innovative hydrotherapy pools to provide our patients with a safe and pain-free environment to complete their prescribed exercises. The pools allow patients to increase their strength and flexibility via the natural buoyancy of the water. Exercises prescribed for fibromyalgia may include postural-based strengthening exercises to help align the body in the least stressed position and mobility exercises such as stretches to decrease muscle tightness and pain.
Regular exercise, combined with healthy eating habits, can further reduce daily stresses and improve an individual’s overall health. It can create better sleeping patterns and contribute to a reduced flare-up of symptoms in individuals affected by fibromyalgia.
For more information, book your initial assessment with Aquafit Physiotherapy. Our dedicated team of therapists can help ease your symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and get you on the path to living a healthier, fuller, and better life, starting today.