fibromyalgia chronic pain

Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that presents itself as a syndrome, characterized by body aches and pain, weakness, stiffness, tender points around joints and stressful mind. We at ReLiva Physiotherapy and Rehab help you deal with the various symptoms of fibromyalgia present at any point of this chronic condition in the best possible ways at our clinics in Thane, Vashi, Nerul and Navi Mumbai.

While there is no definite cure of this condition, physiotherapy helps in reducing the symptoms as well as improving the quality of life of an individual suffering from fibromyalgia. Something as easy as postural correction and correct postural habits taught by the physiotherapist helps the patient in relieving the stress placed on the tissues as well as relaxes the body.

Pain, which is the most disabling symptom of this condition, is dealt aptly by using hydrotherapy in the form of moist hot packs that is applied at the painful area or also by using cryotherapy, as per the patients’ condition and need. Along with this, myofascial release techniques may be used to release the tension off the muscles as well as produce relaxation. Tender point release therapy is used to treat the tender points while is followed by cryotherapy to reduce pain, promote healing and prevent any muscle soreness. Pain may also be treated with the help of electrotherapy equipment like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) depending on the severity of the pain.

Stiffness is reduced by incorporating various stretching exercises that help improving the flexibility of the muscles. By loosening up the tight and stiff muscles, it helps reduce the tension built up in the muscles and helps relieve any stress placed on them. This also leads to pain reduction and induces relaxation. Various active and passive stretching exercises are done and also taught to the patient with the correct dosage and method. Along with this accurate range of motion (ROM) exercises are taught to the patient that helps in keeping the joints healthy and preventing any stiff joint conditions in the future. Strength training of the muscles forms the basic line of treatment for the weakness that the muscles develop in fibromyalgia. Gradual and slowly progressing strengthening exercises are taught to the patients, starting with free exercises and moving on to resistance training.

Aerobic exercises (low-speed, low-impact) also form a very important line of treatment in patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Aerobic training not only prevents the deconditioning of the body but also helps induce relaxation. They have significant beneficial effects on physical function, well being and potentially reducing pain. Stationary bicycle, steppers (to perform graded and controlled stair-case climbing) and other devices are used to perform aerobic training. Aerobic exercises help improving the overall quality of life by training the lungs and heart and increasing their ability to function.

Relaxation techniques that are taught to the patients help relax their mind and body and hence bring the stress levels down. This in turn induces good sleep and helps fight sleep disturbances. In this way it helps the patient maintain good health by taking necessary rest periods along with supervised physical activity. Lifestyle modification would be incorporating activities like walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, etc in leisure time that not only help in relaxing the mind but also maintain the body strength to fight fatigue and pain. Outdoor sports should be taken up to maintain good body functioning, as well as aid relaxation.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. It is a chronic condition diagnosed by the doctors based on patient’s symptoms and physical examination. Fibromyalgia mainly includes widespread muscle pain along with painful point around the joints, which is not actually joint pain but pain in the tissues around the joint. It is usually referred to as ‘fibromyalgia syndrome’ as it presents with a group of symptoms together. Common fibromyalgia symptoms may include generalized aches and pains and crippling fatigue. Presence of tender points, disturbed sleep, mood disturbances and depression is also seen. Muscles give the feeling of being over worked all the time. There may be pain and achiness around joints in the neck, shoulder, back and hips which make it difficult for the patient to sleep or exercise. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, chronic headaches, and dryness in mouth, nose and eyes, incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, stiffness, numbness/tingling in fingers and feet. Tender points at specific areas around the joints give a clear picture of the condition.

Diagnosis is mainly made on comprehensive physical examination and on the patient’s medical history. Research still continues on devising any specific blood test that could help confirm the diagnosis (e.g. FM/a) to rule out any other serious condition, your doctor may ask you to carry out a compete blood count(CBC), tests for thyroid, etc. Also, since the pain and symptoms are similar to that seen in arthritic conditions like Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, specific tests to rule out these conditions is also done. A detailed FAQ regarding fibromyalgia can be found here.

What causes Fibromyalgia

It is still unclear why people develop fibromyalgia but theories suggest that it is not the outcome of a single factor but combination of factors working together. One of the researches suggests that poor physical conditioning leads to the symptoms of fibromyalgia while other suggests that continuous microtrauma leads to ongoing cycle of pain and fatigue. Combination of many physical and emotional stressors is believed to be responsible for the condition. Genetics is also believed to be one of the causes and fibromyalgia is seen running in families. Environmental factors like trauma, infections, etc are also believed to be contributing to causing fibromyalgia. Hormonal and chemical disturbances are also responsible in causing pain.

It is mainly thought to be a glitch in the way the body perceives pain. One of the main theories suggests that people suffering from fibromyalgia have developed changes in the way the Central Nervous System (CNS) processes the pain messages carried out by the body. Also low level of hormones like serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in the brain lead to alteration in mood, appetite, sleep, behave and response to stressful situations. Also hormones help regulate the processing of pain messages in the brain.

Benefits of Physiotherapy Treatment for Fibromyalgia patients

The benefit of physiotherapy is that it allows a person with fibromyalgia to work closely with a trained professional who can design a fibromyalgia-specific treatment program. The therapist documents your progress and gauges whether you are performing/practicing good therapy habits, alignments, and movement patterns when doing ‘homework’ or exercises at home.

Anne Reicherter, PT, DPT, PhD, a licensed physical therapist and associate professor in the department of physical therapy in the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, says physical therapy can help fibromyalgia patients “manage” their daily living with less pain and generally make life more enjoyable”. She explains that people with fibromyalgia pain are often caught in a vicious cycle: Pain and fatigue prevent them from being active and exercising, but inactivity can trigger more pain and fatigue.

ReLiva Physiotherapy and Rehab helps you deal with fibromyalgia by using the following in their tailor-made and effectively designed treatment program:

    • Stretching Exercises
    • Strengthening Exercises
    • Pain Relief Methods
    • Aerobic Training
    • Myofascial Release
    • Relaxation Techniques

Myths and Facts about Fibromyalgia

1.   Myth: Fibromyalgia is rare.

Fact: Fibromyalgia is one of the most common types of chronic pain disorders. Census reports more than 10 million cases per year in India.

2.   Myth: Fibromyalgia is “all in the head.”

Fact: Fibromyalgia has been described for centuries. But it wasn’t until 1981 that the first scientific study formally confirmed fibromyalgia symptoms and tender points in the body. Since then, researchers have future tested pain reaction in people with fibromyalgia.

  • Imaging studies show that the brains of people with fibromyalgia have more activity in reaction to pain.
  • Studies also have shown that people with fibromyalgia feel pain more intensely at lower levels than people without the condition.

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