Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Physical Therapy

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a pain condition which is characterized by chronic widespread body pain, fatigue, and tender points throughout muscles, joints, and other soft tissues.  These tender points can be located in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs.  

What other symptoms are found in people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?

    --Numbness and tingling in hands/feet
    --History of depression and/or anxiety
    --Difficulty sleeping

How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?

It is important to know that the cause of Fibromyalgia is not known but it is believed that there is a change in how the brain interprets pain in the body.  Physicians will often diagnose a patient with Fibromyalgia if the patient has had pain for longer than 3 months and at least one of the symptoms from the list above.  Along with this there must be at least 11 tender points (out of 18) around the body.  Before a formal diagnosis is made a thorough physical examination should be completed to rule out other disorders.  Physical therapy is often used to rule out this chronic condition by decreasing symptoms with manual therapy and normalizing body movement.  

Once diagnosed with Fibromyalgia how can Physical Therapists help? 

Recent research has shown that exercise can help decrease the symptoms  associated with Fibromyalgia.  "Aerobic conditioning, aquatic exercise, stretching, strengthening ... recreational activities, and manual therapy/or modalities for pain relief have shown to decrease pain and  improve function, general physical health and sleep in individuals with Fibromyalgia."1  The problem is that people with this diagnosis are often reluctant to participate in exercise secondarily to the fear of exacerbating their symptoms.  "A Physical therapist can help an individual learn to interpret pain signals, and manage and decrease symptoms through exercise."1  Physical therapists are healthcare's experts in restoring and improving motion in people's lives.  Your physical therapist at Hayashida and Associates Physical Therapy Hcan help develop a individualized treatment program.

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