Nearly 5 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia. This chronic condition causes widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive issues. It can be difficult to manage and can severely impact quality of life. The best treatment plans combine exercise, modalities and education. Physical therapists are experts in all three, so they’re the perfect practitioner to help!
Currently, recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia include patient education and non-pharmacological interventions. The right exercise routine can help with pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and more. A combination of strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercise is the most effective. You and your PT will work together to find the right type and intensity of exercise to best manage your symptoms.
Exercise isn’t the only tool the PT has to help people with fibromyalgia though. Gentle manual therapy and massage have been shown to help reduce pain and muscle stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. Physical therapists also use modalities to reduce symptoms.
- electrical stimulation
- dry needling in states where it is allowed
In addition to land-based exercise, some clinics also have the option of aquatic therapy. This combines the benefits of exercise with the warmth of a therapeutic pool.
Education is another important component in treating fibromyalgia. A physical therapist spends more time with their patients than most other practitioners. They have the time to help you understand what’s going on, and what you can do about it. Research shows that people with more knowledge about their condition have better outcomes, more confidence, and cope better.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, physical therapists can help with pain management, strength, mobility, fatigue and function to help patients find relief from their symptoms.