FIBROMYALGIA – Do You Have It Or Know Someone That Has It?

 

Recently in clinic we have had a bout of current clients and new people contacting us regarding Fibromyalgia. Either they have been diagnosed with it or know someone that has and are curious to what the condition is or what the best way to deal with it is.
 

What Actually Is Fibromyalgia?

 
The first thing to note is that it is a label rather than a diagnosis because there are no objective biological markers to diagnose against although a lot of people with Fibromyalgia suffer with the same symptoms – pain, feelings of fatigue and sleep disturbance of sleep that doesn’t seem to refresh them.

If something’s wrong with us we are so keen to want an answer to what is causing our pain. As Fibromyalgia is a label, it could be that the diagnosis of it far surpasses the amount of people with true symptoms of the condition.

There are 19 ‘tender’ points around the body that people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia often complain about, 10 of those being in and around the neck and the shoulders.

I have even spoken to a couple of my clients who, although diagnosed, don’t believe the condition exists and there must be another answer to their symptoms, which is where you can see the controversy comes from.

The condition is believed to be based around the sympathetic nervous system which is the part of the body which will activate the bodies “fight or flight” mechanism, making it constantly active which is why the body can’t regenerate itself and why the feelings of fatigue are so common in symptom complaints.

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain disorders.  It is estimated to affect 3-6% of the worlds population. The condition affects woman more commonly than men and the most common ages affected are between 22-55.

 

So What Is It Believed To Be Caused By?

 
It is currently believed that Fibromyalgia can be due to an increased amount of stress in somebody’s life at any one time which takes it’s effects. It has also been linked to personality type.

How someone deals with stress – their coping mechanisms or thought outputs when they are under stress has a big impact on the body. Type D personality traits such as anxiety is very commonly linked to the condition for when external stressors of life meet internal personalities and emotional control.

If you’re sat reading this and think “well this doesn’t really fit with me and I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia” you are not alone in that thought process and that is why the condition being so misunderstood causes so much confusion/discussion.
 

 

What Is Proven To Help Fibromyalgia?

 

Recognising that it isn’t easy to cope with a chronic condition can be a defining moment for those struggling to manage their symptoms. Knowing you are not alone and that others have the same as you can at times provide comfort. Speaking to others who live with an invisible condition can make you feel less alone and make life a bit more bearable.

Low Intensity Exercise

 

As mentioned above, a big factor within Fibromyalgia is that feeling of fatigue so with all studies conducted around getting the upper hand on fibro – low intensity exercise always comes up trumps and I find this to be true with my clients who do low intensity exercise. The low intensity exercise is the best medicine is that you’re not physically exerting the body to add to the fatigue but getting the body moving and active with regular exercise builds up fatigue resistance.

Recommended low-intensity exercises are Tai-Chi, Pilates, Yoga and also Balneotherapy which is a form of hydrotherapy (exercise in water)

The added benefits of exercise is that you get the social aspect of being part of a community which we pride ourselves so much on here all included within the exercise session which can help with the psychological side of the condition 🙂

 

Massage Helps A Lot!

 

Symptoms can be reduced significantly through having a regular massage.

Studies have shown that individuals with fibromyalgia can experience plenty of benefits from massage, including:

  1. Increased serotonin levels (known as the “Happy” chemical)
  2. Decreased stress hormones (these will give you tight muscles and pain)
  3. Decreased substance P levels (Substance P is 2-3 times higher in fibromyalgia sufferers)
  4. Improved sleep
  5. Decreased pain at tender points
  6. Improved overall sense of well-being

Touch is so important to all humans. As children, we ran to our mum’s and dad’s for care, to feel safe or for a goodnight cuddle. All too often as adults, we ares busy with our lives and we are super stressed out that we lose the understanding of why touch matters every day.

For people with chronic pain, even the lightest of touches may turn into something negative for them, it may be every fiber of their body screams in pain at the slightest contact. I know I’ve treated people like this where they just cannot tolerate the most gentle therapy techniques so, we have to think outside the box and find a way in so the nervous system doesn’t win the day and we do find this. The way in is different for everyone and that’s the skill of a specialist therapist to work with each person and bespoke a plan to what they need for them mentally and physically.

But please take note when I tell you this: massage for fibromyalgia can help your body and brain learn how to relax into positive state so that you can benefit enormously from the healing touch of massage.

So if a one of massage flares you up please do not give up as chronic conditions often need time to desensitise to touch again.

If you would like more information on how to choose the right therapist for you and whatever it is you are struggling with right now why not click the link to free access to our free guide on the 51 Most Frequently Ask Questions About Physiotherapy:

51 Most Frequently Ask Questions About Physiotherapy: 

 

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