FYBROMYALGIA – SHOULD I TRY PHYSICAL THERAPY?
If you are one who suffers from the debilitating effects of fybromyalgia, then this article may help you in the battle. There are many ways to deal with the chronic pain and muscle stiffness but I think one of the best ways is to learn how to deal with it at home. That is what physical therapy is all about.
Physical therapists teach self-management skills to people with all types of conditions, including fibromyalgia. They can show you how to relieve pain symptoms and stiffness in everyday life. These health care professionals can teach you how to build strength and improve range of motion. They show you ways to get relief from deep muscle pain and they can help you learn how to make practical decisions about daily activities that will prevent painful flare-ups.
WHAT IS PHYSICAL THERAPY?
The focus of physical therapy is on the treatment, healing, and prevention of injuries or disabilities. Participating in a regular physical therapy program may help you regain control of your fibromyalgia as you focus on lifestyle changes rather than on the chronic problems of pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP FYBROMYALGIA?
A licensed physical therapist has a background in anatomy and kinesiology, the study of movement. If you have fibromyalgia, the therapist will develop specific stretching and strengthening programs to meet your individual needs.
From infants to adults, physical therapists work with all types of patients. They provide services that help restore function, relieve pain, improve mobility, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities. Physical therapists help restore overall fitness and health.
For your fybromyalgia, the physical therapist will help you learn proper posture, which allows efficient muscle function. That results in your being able to avoid undue fatigue and pain. In addition, they may use slow stretching exercises to help you improve muscle flexibility and relaxation exercises that help you reduce muscle tension.
Along with exercise, physical therapists use a wide range of resources. These range from deep tissue massage to ice and heat packs for hydrotherapy. With these means, physical therapists can help people with fibromyalgia use their muscles, stretch for flexibility, and move their joints through range-of-motion exercises.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF PHYSICAL THERAPY?
The ultimate goal of physical therapy is for you to learn specific exercises and then do them daily at home. By participating in physical therapy, a person with fibromyalgia is allowed to work closely with a trained professional who can design a fibromyalgia-specific treatment program. The therapist documents your progress and evaluates whether you’re practicing good therapy habits, alignments, and movement patterns when doing the exercises at home.
REASONS FOR HYDROTHERAPY USE
Physical therapists use hydrotherapy with moist heat or cold packs to stimulate the body’s own healing force. For instance, cold compresses reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. On the other hand, warm, moist compresses on painful areas dilate blood vessels. That increases the flow of blood, oxygen, and other nutrients and speeds the elimination of toxins.
I know for a pulled muscle, alternating between the two compresses actually increases healing of the muscle. Use the cold compress first for a few minutes and then apply the hot compress to help eliminate the toxins and increase blood flow to the damaged area. I can understand how that would also help with fybromyalgia. Cold compresses may reduce the pain of an injury, such as a sprain or strain and moist heat may give relief to fibromyalgia’s chronic muscle pain or tender-point pain. You can also use a moist heating pad, a warm, damp towel, or a hydro-collator pack. You can even stand or sit on a stool in the shower and let warm water hit the painful area. Any of these ways will help with the pain.
Your physical therapist may suggest using moist heat for a few minutes just before and after stretching or doing resistance or aerobic exercise. Doing this will make the exercise less painful and more effective.
If you would like to use moist heat to decrease pain symptoms, try it twice daily, about 15 minutes each time. Some people with fibromyalgia prefer alternating the ice compresses with the moist heat to get the most benefit.
OTHER TOOLS USED BY PHYSICAL THERAPISTS
Your physical therapist may use different types of tools with fibromyalgia patients including:
- deep tissue massage
- low-impact aerobic conditioning (water aerobics)
- pain relief exercise
- stretching and strengthening exercises
- TENS units (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
As you can see, physical therapy can be a great asset for those with fybromyalgia. Not only can it help with pain symptoms, but the exercises and stretching can have a big impact on how you adapt with this syndrome. If you think this is a worthwhile attempt to investigate, ask your doctor for a recommendation or ask family and friends if they can refer you to a good, licensed physical therapist. In dealing with fybromyalgia, this is definitely worth a shot.