Our last blog discussed what fibromyalgia is and the known symptoms and triggers for the condition. Now, let’s discuss the treatments for this particular diagnosis.
There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments to manage the condition. Treatment typically takes a team approach including your doctor, physical therapist, possibly other health professionals, and yourself! Your doctor may prescribe various medications intended to relieve pain. Alternative treatments including massage, movement disciplines (ex. Pilates, yoga), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and various supplements may or may not be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia as well. Some research is being conducted on alternative therapies in relation to fibromyalgia, but there is little to no scientific evidence to support the indication that they help. There are various life adjustments, on the other hand, that have been shown to minimize the effect on fibromyalgia. They are as follows:
- Taking medicines as prescribed
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well
- Making work changes if necessary
The benefits of taking medications as prescribed are obvious so we won’t elaborate on that. Getting enough sleep is essential with a condition like this; therefore, changing your typical routine may be warranted. Examples for routine changes may include avoiding caffeine or alcohol in the evening, not exercising within 3 hours of going to sleep, avoiding daytime naps, avoiding drinking liquids just before bed, and winding down before heading to bed. Eating well has also demonstrated positive effects on this condition, but no guidelines have been established for any specific diet to maintain. Work changes may have to be made based on physical ability, including shortening work hours or even changing jobs. The last and most important component for fibromyalgia treatment that we will focus on is exercise.
Individuals with fibromyalgia may associate exercise with pain and fatigue and therefore not want to keep up with an exercise program because their condition already makes them experience pain and fatigue. Despite this fear, research has repeatedly shown that exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia symptoms and function. Physical therapy is particularly geared toward helping develop an exercise routine for fibromyalgia patients. At Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness we have seen our fair share of patients with fibromyalgia. As the research suggests, we focus on progressing aerobic fitness, often with biking and treadmill training. Aerobic exercise increases the amount of blood flow and oxygen to the muscles which helps nourish them. Aerobic exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on fibromyalgia symptoms when performed regularly. Another key component that we use to treat this condition is strength training, especially in the area that is most involved. We make sure to gradually progress the intensity level of the exercises based on your tolerance. Gradual progression with fibromyalgia is a key component because if exercise intensity is too aggressive, then your symptoms may flare. Our goal is to get you as independent as possible; therefore, developing a program that you can perform at home is another important component to the care that we provide. We offer you appropriate exercises and an understanding of how to progress each activity safely. One positive thing to note with regard to fibromyalgia is that it is not progressive or fatal and it often improves over time. These tips are ways that you can help to improve your symptoms quicker. If you have fibromyalgia and are looking to start into an exercise program geared to your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.