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Managing Fibromyalgia with Physiotherapy

Blogs, / By Winsen Citra

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas. Managing fibromyalgia often requires a multifaceted approach, including medication, lifestyle changes, and physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can be particularly effective in alleviating pain, improving physical function, and enhancing the overall quality of life for individuals with fibromyalgia.

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Fibromyalgia

  1. Pain Relief: Physiotherapy can help manage fibromyalgia pain through various techniques such as manual therapy, gentle stretching, and exercise. Studies have shown that regular physiotherapy sessions can lead to significant pain reduction in fibromyalgia patients .

  2. Improved Physical Function: Engaging in physical exercises tailored by physiotherapists can improve muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. These exercises can help fibromyalgia patients perform daily activities with less discomfort and fatigue .

  3. Stress Reduction: Physiotherapy often incorporates relaxation techniques and stress management strategies. This holistic approach can help reduce the stress and anxiety commonly associated with fibromyalgia, contributing to overall well-being .

Common Physiotherapy Techniques for Fibromyalgia

  1. Aerobic Exercises: Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and cycling can enhance cardiovascular health and reduce pain sensitivity. A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that aerobic exercise is beneficial in reducing pain and improving physical function in fibromyalgia patients .

  2. Strength Training: Gentle resistance training can help increase muscle strength and decrease muscle stiffness. Physiotherapists can design individualized strength training programs that are safe and effective for fibromyalgia patients .

  3. Stretching and Flexibility Exercises: Regular stretching can help maintain and improve flexibility, which is crucial for reducing muscle tension and pain. Stretching exercises should be performed daily to maximize benefits .

  4. Hydrotherapy: Exercising in warm water can be particularly soothing for fibromyalgia patients. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on the joints, and the warmth helps relax muscles. Hydrotherapy has been shown to improve pain and quality of life in individuals with fibromyalgia .

  5. Manual Therapy: Techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy can help relieve muscle tension and pain. These therapies can also improve blood circulation and promote relaxation .

Developing a Physiotherapy Plan

When developing a physiotherapy plan for fibromyalgia, it is important to work with a qualified physiotherapist who understands the condition and its complexities. The physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment and create a personalized treatment plan that may include a combination of the techniques mentioned above.

Conclusion

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing fibromyalgia by reducing pain, improving physical function, and enhancing the overall quality of life. Through a combination of aerobic exercises, strength training, stretching, hydrotherapy, and manual therapy, physiotherapy provides a comprehensive approach to managing this chronic condition. Patients with fibromyalgia should consult with their healthcare providers and physiotherapists to develop a tailored treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and goals.


References

  1. Häuser, W., et al. (2010). “Efficacy of aerobic exercise in fibromyalgia syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Arthritis Research & Therapy. Link to study.
  2. Busch, A. J., et al. (2011). “Exercise for treating fibromyalgia syndrome.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Link to study.
  3. Kaleth, A. S., & Slaven, J. E. (2008). “Physical Activity and Quality of Life in Fibromyalgia Patients.” Health and Quality of Life Outcomes. Link to study.
  4. Andrade, A., et al. (2018). “The effectiveness of exercise at improving depression in patients with fibromyalgia: a meta-analysis.” Medicine. Link to study.
  5. Busch, A. J., et al. (2008). “Aerobic exercise training for adults with fibromyalgia.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Link to study.
  6. Gavi, M. B. C., et al. (2014). “Strengthening exercises improve function, pain, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia.” Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. Link to study.
  7. Jones, K. D., et al. (2002). “Stretching exercises for fibromyalgia: a systematic review.” Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain. Link to study.
  8. Tomas-Carus, P., et al. (2007). “Aquatic training and detraining on fitness and quality of life in fibromyalgia.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Link to study.
  9. Afonso, S., et al. (2012). “Effectiveness of manual therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a systematic review.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Link to study.

We hope this has been useful for you. Find out more useful exercises by checking out our instagram page. Feel free to contact us should you have further questions. 

Winsen Citra
Principal Physiotherapist

Winsen graduated from University of Melbourne in 2011. He worked in organisations of various sizes such as Singapore General Hospital, Pain Relief Practice, and Physioclinic before working at Elevate Physiotherapy. He specialises in sports and musculoskeletal injuries and has worked with athletes of various sports such as fencing, dancing, dragon boating, and cycling.

In his spare time he enjoys singing and playing chess.