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Physical Therapy For Fibromyalgia: How Can It Help?

June 1st, 2022 | 3 min. read

Physical Therapy For Fibromyalgia: How Can It Help?
Jenny Tesley

Jenny Tesley

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // EW Motion Therapy Tuscaloosa

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If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may feel confused. The diagnosis typically indicates widespread musculoskeletal pain but is sometimes assigned when your doctor cannot determine a more specific cause. You know that the pain is not the only thing affecting you - you’re likely losing sleep, becoming irritable, or even depressed. So what treatment options are available? How can you feel like yourself again?


While the diagnosis can seem scary, some treatment options can improve your quality of life and help you move with less pain. Our physical therapists are experts in the science of movement and want to help you move better. Even if you choose physical therapy elsewhere, we still want to educate you on physical therapy as a treatment option for fibromyalgia. 


This article offers advice on reducing pain by discussing how fibromyalgia affects movement and how physical therapy can help. With this information, you can take the diagnosis in stride and focus on restoring your quality of life.


How does fibromyalgia affect movement? 

Generally, fibromyalgia is musculoskeletal pain and tenderness that affects many areas of your body. The pain is usually accompanied by other symptoms like anxiety, depression, headaches, and fatigue. Researchers are still unsure of the exact cause of fibromyalgia. Still, some believe it can be caused by traumatic events like car accidents, genetics, or even your body’s response to infection or illness.


Pain always makes movement more difficult, especially with how widespread fibromyalgia pain can be. You may not realize it, but you are probably compensating for painful areas with less effective movement patterns that may turn into secondary problems down the road. Also, sleep is one of the greatest natural healers, and if you are not sleeping well, you are not healing well. 


How can physical therapy help? 

When you go to physical therapy for your fibromyalgia symptoms, your therapist will work to maximize your quality of life and reduce pain, depending on how severe your pain is. Managing your pain with natural solutions like improving posture and increasing strength with exercise can help you move better. Depending on what you need, your physical therapist will walk you through light intensity strengthening exercises and assess your posture to see where you can improve. They will also teach coping mechanisms for your specific issues and help you reduce pain and the risk of further injury. 


It may seem that reducing movement provides the most relief for your pain, but in reality, your body needs both movement and rest to heal. Your physical therapist wants to be an advocate for your well-being, bringing together all the information from your care team and giving you practical steps you can take at home to reduce as much pain as possible. Your therapist’s ultimate goal should be to encourage independence in your pain management so you can maintain your daily activities.


How else can I reduce pain? 

Now you know more about physical therapy for fibromyalgia and how it can help you maintain independence and reduce pain. A fibromyalgia diagnosis is difficult news for anyone since there is no known cure for the disease - learning different methods of controlling your symptoms is usually your best bet for feeling better. Physical therapists work not only on your movement deficits but can also be a listening ear, to provide emotional support and education on how to best manage your pain. Even something as simple as knowing when to put ice or heat on your painful areas can be tremendously helpful.  


While fibromyalgia is a difficult diagnosis, giving yourself the best possible quality of life is paramount. Our physical therapists at EW Motion Therapy will work to ensure that you can go about your daily routine with the least amount of pain possible. If you are interested in our physical therapy services, fill out the Request an Appointment form on our website, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps.