Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a chronic condition that results in pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body. FMS is unique because the painful tissues are not inflamed or have a physiological damage. The pain pattern experienced often has no specific pattern. Most commonly affected areas include the neck, shoulders, arms, legs, upper back, and the chest.
FMS is most commonly present in middle aged females (35-45 years old), but symptoms are often experienced at an earlier age. The body pain is often accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, high level of stress, anxiety, depression, cognitive skill difficulties (ex. thinking, memory, concentration), and restless sleep.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of FMS is unclear, however several factors can play a role in how one develops FMS. Individual’s diet, activity level, psychological and behavioral condition, occupation, environmental and seasonal factors have all shown to play a factor. Pre-existing conditions such as PTSD, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other systemic conditions may also be contributing factors.
Some studies have suggested that FMS is caused by a problem in an individual’s central nervous system that controls the sensations and movements of the body. This may result in increase in the sensitivity to the nerve endings, and allow one to perceive pain at a lower threshold.
How can Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and/or Massage Therapy help with Fibromyalgia?
Although there is no known cure for FMS, manual therapy can help with reducing the factors that cause the symptoms of the FMS. Pain can be managed by therapists by using modalities such as Ultrasound and TENS, and improve motor function by using techniques such as acupuncture, soft tissue release, spinal manipulation, and rehabilitation exercises.
Treatments provided by the therapists will help individuals with FMS to move better, become stronger, and feel empowered which in turn will help with managing the symptoms of FMS and prevent it from affecting their activities of daily living.
What should be avoided with Fibromyalgia?
Individuals with FMS should avoid any strenuous activities that may increase fatigue and pain. One should engage in gentle stretching and exercise and gradually increase intensity as symptoms get better. Also, one should avoid situations that may expose them to high levels of stress and learn how to meditate or even seek counselling to keep their mind at ease.
Some studies have shown that having a healthy diet may improve symptoms of FMS. Suggested foods to avoid include meat and dairy products, foods with additives, and gluten. The Naturopaths at Rebalance can help you manage the lifestyle changes required to cope with this condition.
How long does it take to recover from Fibromyalgia?
According to the research, there is no exact timeline to how long it takes for FMS to be cured. Because FMS is a condition defined by a set of symptoms rather than specific cause, it may never be cured as long as the symptoms persist. However, studies have shown that individuals may live with FMS without their life being affected too much through continuous management and a well rounded health care team.
What are Safe Home Exercises you can do for Fibromyalgia?
Gentle stretching exercises such as Yoga to improve general stiffness and maintain range of motion and strength.
Strengthening of the muscles using weighs and resistance bands can improve overall health of the joints and reduce fatigue.
Low impact light intensity exercises such as walking, fast walking, biking, or swimming can all help with FMS. Water exercises are highly recommended for individuals with FMS because it is less stressful on the joints.
If you or someone you know has been struggling with chronic pain and you suspect that Fibromyalgia may be the cause we suggest they come for a comprehensive assessment with one of our skilled Physiotherapists or Chiropractors. This can lead to a plan of action and management that can improve quality of life and get you back to enjoying the things you love.