Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain disorder, characterized by widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disorders, fatigue and psychological distress. Due to this wide array of symptoms, people with fibromyalgia are often affected mentally and socially on top of their physical symptoms. Because the underlying cause(s) of FM continues to remain unknown, there are no specific laboratory tests available for making a diagnosis. Therefore, diagnosis relies on patient history, self-reported symptoms, physical examination and tender point examination.
A standardized exam issued by the American College of Rheumatology is used to determine the presence of multiple tender points in characteristic locations. To receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, the patient must have widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for duration of at least three months AND tenderness or pain in 11 of the 18 specified tender points when applying pressure.
Due to severe pain, people with fibromyalgia may limit their activity in an effort to avoid pain; however this can result in an overall decrease in physical fitness. Evidence based research supports the use of aerobic exercise, stretching and strengthening to improve the symptoms of FM. A physical therapist can educate patients with FM on how to manage pain and customize an exercise program to help manage common symptoms in a safe and effective way.
Key things to remember when beginning an exercise program for the management of fibromyalgia:
– Start slow
– Conserve energy by pacing the exercise/activity
– Set realistic goals
– Modify the exercise in times of stress
We treat patients with Fibromyalgia in the 34711 area!