Now that temperatures have went down, fibromyalgia flare ups are on the rise. This winter, learn how to help fibromyalgia patients manage their symptoms effectively so that they are able to enjoy the fun and festivities of the season.
Fibromyalgia – At a Glance
As a physical therapist, you will likely find yourself working with many patients that have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. While the underlying cause of this issue is unknown, there are numerous theories on why it affects people. It is believed to be a direct result of the inappropriate reaction of the nervous system in terms of pain processing.
Triggers include lack of sleep, emotional stress, anxiety, trauma, infection, and medical conditions – such as arthritis and lupus.
According to doctors, Fibromyalgia – in and of itself – is not a “condition”; rather, it is a syndrome of high complexity that involves many different types of symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Individuals with fibromyalgia often experience multiple symptoms. Each patient is different. Below, you will find the most common symptoms that your fibromyalgia patients are likely to experience:
- Widespread pain throughout the body
- Stiff and achy muscles
- Tingling sensations throughout the body
- Feelings of stinging at various points on the body
- Cognitive difficulties
- High levels of stress
Helping Your Patients
Suffering with fibromyalgia is a challenging endeavor. With each new day, your patients are likely to experience pain and a variety of other symptoms.
In many cases, sufferers will avoid engaging in exercise and other forms of physical activity due to their symptoms. As a result, their health may start to suffer in other ways.
As a physical therapist, you should focus on educating your patients, encouraging participation in aerobic exercises, and place a special emphasis on strengthening the body.
Additionally, it is important to help your patients through the process of interpreting the pain signals that they receive from their body and creating a customized physical activity plan for them. You may succeed in all of these areas by doing the following:
- First, focus on pain relief. You can do this by applying pressure to the muscles. Once this pressure has been applied, encourage the patient to stretch and contract the muscles.
- Dry needling is a very effective measure for alleviating pain. Simply insert the needles into the areas of the muscles that are painful.
- To encourage blood flow to both the tissues and the muscles, engage in massage therapy. Once the blood flow is enhanced, the patient will experience less pain, decreases in muscle stiffness, and if there is any type of scar tissue present, it will be broken up.
- In severe cases, your fibromyalgia patients may benefit from the use of electrical forms of stimulation.
In the winter months, fibromyalgia patients may experience extreme flare ups. As a physical therapist, you must have the employees, tools, and resources in place to quickly handle these patients.
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