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  • Writer's pictureKaye Cheong

How can Physiotherapy help with Fibromyalgia? by Physio Jesse Hannah

What is Fibromyalgia?

  • Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain in the muscles of the body and fatigue.

  • People with fibromyalgia have a number of “tender points” on the body and an increased in sensitivity to body.

  • They can also experience high levels of fatigue that are disproportionate to their activity levels and sleep.

  • The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it's thought to be due to changes in how the nervous system processes pain.

  • It might be triggered by trauma, surgery, infection, arthritis, major emotional stress, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosis, or ankylosing spondylitis.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Muscle stiffness, especially in the morning

  • Headache

  • Thinking and memory problems

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Pain or cramps in the abdomen or pelvis

  • Difficulty sleeping; waking unrefreshed

  • Temporomandibular (jaw joint) pain

Often, stress can make your symptoms worse.

Physiotherapy for Fibromyalgia

Heat Therapy: Heat triggers the body's natural healing process by relaxing your muscles and speeding up blood flow to the affected area. Extra blood delivers extra oxygen and nutrients. Blood also removes waste by products from muscle spasms.

Electrical stimulation (TENS): decreases fibromyalgia-related pain by blocking pain signals from reaching your spinal cord. It also reduces muscle spasms and triggers the release of endorphins (natural pain killers your brain produces).

Ultrasound: Using sound waves, this treatment creates vibration in a cellular level and produces a gentle heat that enhances blood flow to deep tissues. Ultrasound can help decrease pain, inflammation, stiffness, and muscle spasms.

Soft Tissue Manipulation: This treatment is to decrease muscle tension, muscle spasms and joint stiffness will be done manually by physiotherapists.

Joint mobilization: This is to reduced stiffness around the joint and it will help you use your joints more flexibly.

Low-impact exercises: Any low-impact exercise that doesn’t put additional pressure on the joints is good for helping with pain relief. Aqua aerobics, walking, swimming, and cycling are all low-impact exercises that may benefit fibromyalgia patients.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Using customized stretching and strengthening exercises, will help to lengthen and help build muscle strength and improve your range of motion. Strong, lean muscles better handle pain.

Relaxation Techniques: To minimize environmental stress, healthy & active lifestyle habits, and adequate sleep. Breathing exercises are often incorporated throughout treatment and recommended to incorporate in patient's daily routine.

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