Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. It is considered as a systemic problem involving biochemical, neuroendocrine, and physiologic abnormalities, leading to a disorder of pain processing and perception (i.e. allodynia, hyperalgesia).
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. There is no complete cure for fibromyalgia; but a variety of medications, Exercises, relaxation and stress-reduction measures can help to control symptoms.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
- Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome (unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move legs) and sleep apnea (breathing is interrupted during sleep).
- Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
In addition to these symptoms, people with fibromyalgia could also have:
- Trouble sleeping
- Morning stiffness
- Migraine and other types of headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Painful menstrual periods
- Numbness or tingling of hands and feet
- Restless legs syndrome
- Temperature sensitivity
- Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
The causes of fibromyalgia are not known but a number of factors might be involved such as
- Genetics – family history of fibromyalgia
- Some Infections or illnesses will trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia. Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus may aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma– Stressful or traumatic events, such as
- Car accidents
- Injuries to the body caused by performing the same action over and over again (Repetitive injuries)
While there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, physical therapy helps to ease the symptoms of pain. It can also help reduce stiffness and fatigue. In addition to exercises, physical therapists use a wide range of techniques like pain relieving modalities, trigger point release techniques, stretches ect.. will help to reduce the symptoms. Physical therapy management mainly focuses on healing, biomechanical correction, improving muscle function and prevention of injuries or disabilities. Regular physical therapy programs may help to regain control of fibromyalgia.
Physiotherapy Management for fibromyalgia may include
- Pain Management
- Heat or Cold therapy
- Transcutaneous nerve stimulation(TENS)
- Myofascial release therapy
- Water therapy (Hydrotherapy)
- Low impact aerobics
- Relaxation exercises
- Breathing techniques
- Cognitive therapy
- Patient Education and Life style Management
- Postural Corrections
- Avoiding flare ups and aggravating factors
- Energy conservation techniques
- Sleep Hygiene
- Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques.