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Using physiotherapy to manage fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex cycle of episodic pain and fatigue. Sufferers report all over tenderness and pain, particularly in joints. The mechanisms behind fibromyalgia are not yet fully understood, and there is no cure known yet. Physiotherapy can be a useful way to help manage the pain and discomfort in the mean time.

Joint mobilisation

Part of the diagnosis criteria for fibromyalgia is all over pain, both in the joints and the soft tissues. Unfortunately, the disorder can create a downward spiral whereby the sufferer moves and exercises less and less due to pain and fatigue, which leads to joint soreness when they do attempt more exercise. Physiotherapists can help to maintain joint movement and flexibility by using joint mobilisation techniques, and they can help the patient to come up with exercises they can attempt outside of the physiotherapy sessions, including hydrotherapy and water based exercises, which put less pressure on the joints and soft tissues.

Deep tissue massage and muscle release

All-over pain can also lead to a vicious cycle where the patient gets less sleep and is more vulnerable to feeling pain as a result. Many patients with fibromyalgia also feel symptoms of anxiety and depression relating to their pain, and this stress can further tighten muscles. This can further exacerbate pain and sleeplessness. Physiotherapists can use massage to release the tight muscles, which can help minimise pain and relax the patient. This can also aid in sleep and overall mood stablisation.

Pain management

Pain management is an important part of managing this issue outside of the physiotherapist sessions. Physiotherapists can help patients to devise an overall pain management plan, which can include stretching exercises, meditation, medical devices such as TENS machines and pain medication. By having a structured approach to pain management and tracking the effectiveness of each technique, the patient can learn to manage the troughs and highs of energy and pain seen with fibromyalgia and can start to feel some control over their health and wellbeing again.

Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder that is still not fully understood. By using a multi disciplined medical team to help manage the symptoms, including pain and fatigue, users can experience less discomfort and gain more ability to participate in social, workplace and educational activities. If you or someone you love is suffering from fibromyalgia, you should make sure to include physiotherapy as part of your overall medical treatment plan.