What is Fibromyalgia?

By John Voelz – Doctor of Physical Therapy

Here are some interesting facts: Fibromyalgia is found in 1-3% of the population (80% female) and is the second most common rheumatic condition seen by rheumatologists…
…but nobody knows exactly what fibromyalgia is (???)

Fibromyalgia is a condition with symptoms including widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and disruptions of sleep, memory and mood. Sufferers can also experience headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Experts have begun to scratch the surface, and believe fibromyalgia is the result of amplified pain sensations that occur through the way the brain processes pain signals…..
…but nobody knows exactly what fibromyalgia is (???)

Watch these short videos for a brief explanation of fibromyalgia
Dr. Oz:

The Doctors:

Here is a diagram of common symptoms:Fybro2

There are no lab tests or a definite cure for fibromyalgia, but there are criteria for diagnosis. Below are three things your doctor will consider during an examination:
Widespread pain lasting at least three months
No other underlying condition that might be causing the pain
At least 11 positive tender points — out of a total possible of 18Fybro3

And following diagnosis, treatment often includes:

1) Medication
2) Relaxation and stress-reduction strategies
3) Alternative therapies (acupuncture)
4) Exercise

Why Does Fibromyalgia Hurt?
No one is completely sure what causes the pain associated with fibromyalgia, but current theories suggest that people with the condition have a lower threshold for pain because the brain is more sensitive to pain signals that come from the body. This can cause a “chronic pain cycle.” Often, antidepressant medications are used, and have been fairly effective at breaking this pain cycle. The chronic pain becomes part of a larger cycle illustrated below, involving physiological events as well as lifestyle factors. Unfortunately, it is this cycle that prevents many fibromyalgia patients from trying an exercise program.Fybro4

Exercising with Fibromyalgia
Conditioning of muscles through resistance exercise in combination with endurance/aerobic exercise has been shown repeatedly to be beneficial in controlling the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Care must be taken in the beginning stages of an exercise program especially when performing unaccustomed activities. Each program should begin gently and progress slowly as overly intense work may trigger a worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms. Increased pain and fatigue after beginning a program is often the result of working at too high an intensity. Exercise frequency, intensity and duration should be properly mapped out, preferably by a healthcare professional.
Once the program has begun, increases in workload occur very gradually. After each exercise session, the patient should be able to say “I could have done a little more,” rather than a feeling that “I’ve done all I can do.” An important factor in designing a muscle conditioning/resistance exercise program is to minimize a specific type of muscle contraction called “eccentric contraction,” or “negative contraction.” Whenever a weight is lifted using a muscle contraction, there follows a controlled lowering of the weight. The controlled lowering is the eccentric phase — it is during this phase that muscle is greatly stressed and can lead to excessive soreness. Here at the Healthy Habits Medical Fitness Center, we use hydraulic/pneumatic resistance machines, which eliminate the eccentric phase. This results in little or no muscle soreness.
Other exercises that are effective for fibromyalgia symptom control include:
-water aerobics

Remember to starts slowly, pace yourself, listen to your body, do something every day, add variety to your activities, and be patient. If you’d like to begin a safe and effective exercise program for fibromyalgia, please call or stop in!

Here is a very useful website: Fibromyalgia.com
Fibromyalgia and Fitness

karinWhat is Fibromyalgia?

Comments 1

  1. Kate

    Thank you so much for this article. Great job putting all of this important information together into one place, it’s very helpful!

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