Web MD reports that while some 10 million Americans suffer daily with the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, patients can work with a physician and/or a physical therapist to devise a personalized treatment plan to combat symptoms.
Fibromyalgia, which is a collection of symptoms rather than a specific disease. is characterized by widespread pain, severe fatigue, tender points on the body, and anxiety or depression. There are no lab tests to diagnose it, so physicians arrive at a diagnosis by considering criteria such as how long a paztient has had pain and how widespread it is, and by ruling out other causes.
Physical therapy can help patients get control of their illness by focusing on what they can do to improve their situation, rather than on their chronic symptoms.
A physical therapist can show the patient how to get temporary relief from fibromyalgia pain and stiffness, get stronger, and improve his or her range of motion. The therapist can also help patients make little changes, such as practicing good posture, that help prevent painful flareups.
Exercise is an important part of managing fibromyalgia symptoms, with a focus on range of motion, aerobic, and strength training. Staying physically active can relieve pain, stress, and anxiety.
Patients can start slowly, beginning with stretching and low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or other water exercises, or bicycling. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or Pilates can also be helpful.
Some patients take FDA-approved fibromyalgia drugs such as Cymbalta (duloxetine), Lyrica (pregabalin), or Savella (milnacipran). Some take prescribed antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or even local anasthetics to help manage symptoms.