What is physical therapy and how can this help fibromyalgia?
Physical therapy is the practice of treating the body by physical means to improve pain and function. Physical therapists (PTs) can evaluate the body for problems in function and movement and then treat with a focus on increasing strength, improving range of motion, and helping with activities of daily living. In particular, physical therapy for fibromyalgia focuses on improving pain, decreasing muscle weakness, improving sleep problems, and reducing fatigue.
What are the techniques of fibromyalgia physical therapy?
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but physical therapists use a wide range of modalities to help with fibromyalgia pain. These can include:
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Muscle Energy
- Therapeutic heat
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
- Strength training
In addition, physical therapists can help develop individualized fibromyalgia therapy that includes daily aerobic and flexibility programs at home. The therapist will track progress and make sure that the home fibromyalgia physical therapy program is resulting in good body alignment and movement patterns.
Is there research supporting fibromyalgia physical therapy?
Yes, based on evidence from a 2008 review of randomized clinical trials involving 2276 fibromyalgia sufferers, aerobic exercise was found to help with pain and tender points and showed improvement in physical function and overall wellbeing. Another published study showed that a fibromyalgia physical therapy based educational program also helped with a feeling of wellbeing.
Where can physical therapists for fibromyalgia be found?
Physical therapists are licensed professionals and many health care companies include physical therapists on their provider lists. It is helpful to find a physical therapist who is familiar and has experience treating fibromyalgia. Most importantly, talk with your health care provider for recommendations for a good fibromyalgia physical therapist.
Busch AJ, Schachter CL, Overend TJ, et al. Exercise for fibromyalgia: a systematic review. J Rheumatol 2008; 35:1130
Havermark AM, Languis-Eklof A. Long term follow up of a physical therapy programme for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Scand J Caring Sci. 2006 Sep. 20(3):315-22