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» Conditions : Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Chinook Rehab Centre

What is Fibromyalgia? Where does fibromyalgia develop?

Pain in fibromyalgia is present in soft tissues throughout the body. Pain and stiffness concentrate in spots such as the neck and lower back. The tender spots don't seem to be inflamed. Most tests show nothing out of the ordinary in the anatomy of people with fibromyalgia.


Fibromyalgia Causes Chinook Rehab Centre

Why does fibromyalgia develop?

The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but one thing is for sure: you're not making it up. Many sufferers have been told that it's all in your head by family members or other doctors. It is true that people with fibromyalgia are often depressed, and that stress worsens symptoms. But depression and stress don't seem to be the driving forces behind the disease.

Fibromyalgia often occurs along with other conditions, such as other forms of arthritis, Lyme disease, or thyroid problems. It can also develop after a serious injury. These problems may cause the fibromyalgia to develop.

About 80 percent of all fibromyalgia patients report serious problems sleeping. Because fibromyalgia is so strongly connected to sleep disturbance, in some cases it is possible that the sleep disturbance is the major cause. In fact, studies have produced fibromyalgia-like symptoms in healthy adults by disrupting their sleep patterns.

There is some evidence that fibromyalgia is linked with autoimmune disorders, in which your immune system attacks the tissues of your own body. Sufferers have lower pain thresholds and lower levels of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in pain, sleep, and mood. However, it's unclear whether these conditions cause the fibromyalgia or are a result of the disease.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms  Chinook Rehab Centre

What does fibromyalgia feel like?

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are long lasting and intense. However, they can vary from day to day. Symptoms include:

  • pain and stiffness throughout the body, with especially tender points near certain joints
  • a feeling of exhaustion that sleep often does not help
  • sleep problems
  • tension headaches
  • numbness or tingling in the arms, hands and/or feet
  • a feeling of swelling in the hands, although this is not confirmed in physical exams
  • constipation and diarrhea along with abdominal pain (known as irritable bowel syndrome)
  • intense PMS pains in women
  • depression
  • interrupted sleep or awakening still feeling tired
  • tiredness
  • morning stiffness
  • swelling sensation
  • bothered by light, odors, and/or noise
  • poor concentration and memory loss
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • changes in vision
  • sore glands

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Chinook Rehab Centre

Fibromyalgia Trigger Points

How do health care providers identify fibromyalgia?

Blood tests and X-rays don't show fibromyalgia in your body. However, your health care provider may do these tests to rule out other conditions. There are really only two tools used to diagnose fibromyalgia. One is your history of symptoms. The other involves putting pressure on eighteen tender point sites. If you feel pain in eleven of these eighteen sites, you are considered to have fibromyalgia. (However, it is still possible that you can have the disease with pain in fewer sites.)

In some patients, doctors may recommend X-rays to look at the bones near painful spots. The X-rays will not show fibromyalgia but are used to make sure there are no other causes of your pain. Other special tests such as electromyograms, which measure the contraction of muscles, may be used to try to determine if the muscles show abnormalities. Most of the time these tests are negative. A sleep history, and possibly a sleep study, could be important to the diagnosis.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may need to be ruled out. CFS is another disease that is difficult to diagnose and has puzzled doctors for many years. CFS and fibromyalgia share many symptoms, especially the severe exhaustion. The major difference is that CFS causes flu-like symptoms, such as low-grade fevers, sore throats, and swollen lymph nodes.

Fibromyalgia Treatment Chinook Rehab Centre

What can be done for the condition?

When you visit Chinook Rehab Centre, the first step in the treatment of your fibromyalgia is to help you understand this complex and frustrating disease. Many patients are relieved to learn that the disease is not all in their head, and that our physiotherapists can develop a program to help manage pain and exhaustion. 

It is uncertain whether fibromyalgia is ever cured. Like many chronic diseases, the symptoms of the disease can be controlled. The successful treatment of fibromyalgia is very much a joint effort between doctor, physiotherapist and patient.

You must be willing to make lifestyle changes as well as give attention to your psychological health to help control the symptoms. Other treatments or lifestyle changes we may recommend include:

  • exercise
  • biofeedback
  • meditation
  • acupuncture
  • pain medication
  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • cortisone injected into painful points
  • ultrasound treatments
  • massage
  • heat for temporary pain relief
  • counseling to help deal with the symptomsNon-pharmacological treatment

    Physiotherapy treatment techniques including trigger point therapy, dry needling, massage, strengthening and stretching exercises have been shown to be effective in reducing pain for fibromyalgia sufferers.

    Other important treatment options include:

    • Improving sleep hygiene
    • Having a balanced diet
    • Graded exercise
    • Strategies to cope with stress, anxiety and depression (eg. cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation, relaxation)

    As experts in movement and exercise, Chinook Rehab Centre physiotherapist can develop a graded exercise program specific to your needs and pain levels.

Any treatment program will likely last for many years but patients do get better. At Chinook Rehab Centre, our goal is to help you keep your pain under control so that you can enjoy your normal activities and lifestyle. Recent studies show that about 25 percent of patients treated for fibromyalgia were in remission at the end of two years. Many others have reduced their pain to tolerable levels.

 Exercises for fibromyalgia. Regular exercise can manage fibromyalgia even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing. Research shows that people with fibromyalgia who exercise have less pain and fewer tender points• higher levels of fitness• greater ability to do daily tasks• reduced stress and depression.Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, strengthen your bones and improve the health of your heart and blood vessels. It can also improve your sleep and energy levels.Many people with fibromyalgia are anxious about exercising because they are scared about making the pain worse. However, research shows that people with fibromyalgia can safely participate in regular, appropriate exercise without worsening their symptoms. Physiotherapist at Chinook Rehab can guide you with tips on how to start exercising safely. There are many activities that are safe and effective for people with fibromyalgia. Any activity that works your muscles a bit harder, without increasing your pain or other symptoms, will be beneficial. Activities that are particularly useful include:• Aerobic exercise that improves fitness and reduces pain and fatigue (tiredness) in people with fibromyalgia. Examples include walking, swimming, water exercise classes, cycling and dancing.• Strength training: Muscle weakness is very common in fibromyalgia. A combination of pain, fatigue and inactivity often leads to weaker and wasted muscles. This can make it even more difficult to do your normal daily activities. Research has shown that strength training can reduce pain and other symptoms in people with fibromyalgia. Strength training involves working your muscles a little harder than you do in normal life. You do this by working with hand weights, leg weights, gym machines, resistance bands or even just your own body weight (eg. doing push-ups, squats, exercises in standing). The key to successful strength training is to start with supervision from a qualified health or exercise professional who understands fibromyalgia to make sure you are doing the best exercises for your condition and strength- learn the right way to do the exercises and how much resistance to add- start by lifting light weights and slowly increase the weight over time, only as you feel able.

Chinook Rehab Centre provides services for physiotherapy in Calgary.

Portions of this document copyright MMG, LLC.

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