According to NIH (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases), fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease that affects 5 million adults in the United States alone. It is more common in women than men and is generally diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. It is often characterized by chronic widespread muscular pain and tenderness, symptoms of extreme fatigue and listlessness, poor sleep quality, and memory problems.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Headaches and/or migraines
Numbness or tingling
Irritable bowel or bladder syndrome
Abdominal or pelvic pain and/or cramps
Temporomandibular pain (pain in the jaw)
There is no specific test that can actually confirm or diagnose fibromyalgia. As a result, it is extremely important to obtain an accurate diagnosis. A physician or healthcare provider will conduct several tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. These conditions include rheumatologic disease and thyroid issues.
For a patient with fibromyalgia, every day is different. Symptoms can often come and go. Some days may be extremely challenging, while others are more manageable. A well designed exercise program plays an important role in the management of fibromyalgia but the fear of pain prevents individuals from exercising. This is where a licensed physical therapist can help.
Expect the physical therapist to evaluate current functional limitations and establish personalized goals. The physical therapist will also evaluate the ‘body mass index’ of the client and determine if weight loss can help reduce symptoms. In addition, the therapist will design a comprehensive lifestyle improvement program consisting of exercise and manual therapy techniques to help relieve pain and restore function.
There are several added benefits with the pain relief associated with a physical therapy program. Clients find that they can sleep better, focus more effectively and experience a greater sense of well-being as compared to individuals who do not exercise.
Whether you experience pain as a result of fibromyalgia or any other condition, your physical therapist can teach you to interpret the severity of pain signals and possibly reduce pain with structured exercise. You will discover how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage stress, reduce pain and improve your sleeping habits.
As experts in restoring strength and improving mobility, therapists can develop a very specific and individualized plan of care based on the problems that clients are experiencing. This is true not only in the case of individuals afflicted with fibromyalgia, but those with any injury, pain, or lack of mobility and function for any reason.
As the premier providers of physical therapy in our community, our primary goal is to help you reduce pain and fatigue and improve your overall level of fitness. We want you to live a happy, healthy, and pain free lifestyle and are committed to serving you. Call us today and give us a chance to show you what we can do for you.
Dr. Daniel Skulavik, PT, DPT, OCS, is with Advanced Physical Therapy located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, Clinton.