- Published on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:28
- Written by KateriK
Our last blog discussed what fibromyalgia is and the known symptoms and triggers for the condition. Now, let’s discuss the treatments for this particular diagnosis.
There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments to manage the condition. Treatment typically takes a team approach including your doctor, physical therapist, possibly other health professionals, and yourself! Your doctor may prescribe various medications intended to relieve pain. Alternative treatments including massage, movement disciplines (ex. Pilates, yoga), chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and various supplements may or may not be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia as well. Some research is being conducted on alternative therapies in relation to fibromyalgia, but there is little to no scientific evidence to support the indication that they help. There are various life adjustments, on the other hand, that have been shown to minimize the effect on fibromyalgia. They are as follows:
- Taking medicines as prescribed
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well
- Making work changes if necessary
The benefits of taking medications as prescribed are obvious so we won’t elaborate on that. Getting enough sleep is essential with a condition like this; therefore, changing your typical routine may be warranted. Examples for routine changes may include avoiding caffeine or alcohol in the evening, not exercising within 3 hours of going to sleep, avoiding daytime naps, avoiding drinking liquids just before bed, and winding down before heading to bed. Eating well has also demonstrated positive effects on this condition, but no guidelines have been established for any specific diet to maintain. Work changes may have to be made based on physical ability, including shortening work hours or even changing jobs. The last and most important component for fibromyalgia treatment that we will focus on is exercise.
Individuals with fibromyalgia may associate exercise with pain and fatigue and therefore not want to keep up with an exercise program because their condition already makes them experience pain and fatigue. Despite this fear, research has repeatedly shown that exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia symptoms and function. Physical therapy is particularly geared toward helping develop an exercise routine for fibromyalgia patients. At Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness we have seen our fair share of patients with fibromyalgia. As the research suggests, we focus on progressing aerobic fitness, often with biking and treadmill training. Aerobic exercise increases the amount of blood flow and oxygen to the muscles which helps nourish them. Aerobic exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on fibromyalgia symptoms when performed regularly. Another key component that we use to treat this condition is strength training, especially in the area that is most involved. We make sure to gradually progress the intensity level of the exercises based on your tolerance. Gradual progression with fibromyalgia is a key component because if exercise intensity is too aggressive, then your symptoms may flare. Our goal is to get you as independent as possible; therefore, developing a program that you can perform at home is another important component to the care that we provide. We offer you appropriate exercises and an understanding of how to progress each activity safely. One positive thing to note with regard to fibromyalgia is that it is not progressive or fatal and it often improves over time. These tips are ways that you can help to improve your symptoms quicker. If you have fibromyalgia and are looking to start into an exercise program geared to your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.
What is Fibromyalgia?
- Published on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 11:23
- Written by Kateri
Fibromyalgia is a condition that we seem to hear more and more about. This condition went from being an uncommon and unrecognized diagnosis to fairly common. There are still a fair number of individuals who do not recognize the condition as “real”, but that would be like saying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) isn’t real. Just because there are no measurable physiological changes, does not make it less real for those experiencing it.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), fibromyalgia is a “common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms.” Additional symptoms include the following:
- sleep disturances
- cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”
- morning stiffness
- irritable bowel syndrome
- painful menstrual periods
- numbness or tingling of the extremities
- restless legs syndrome
- temperature sensitivity
- sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights
Despite the symptoms that occur, the body does not show any physiological cause for them. The condition is often diagnosed by ruling out other conditions because the symptoms are often similar to those of other conditions. There are also common tender points that are assessed in order to help diagnose the condition. Even though pain may appear near joints, the condition is not arthritic in nature. It does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues; but it does interfere with daily activities due to the pain and fatigue produced.
The true cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it appears to affect the way pain is processed in the body. A typically non-aggravating stimulus causes pain in a person with fibromyalgia due to the heightened response of their pain receptors. This condition has been linked to several triggers including stressful or traumatic events (ex. car accidents), repetitive injuries, illness, and certain diseases; but may also occur spontaneously. It most commonly occurs in women 18 and older, but can also occur in men and children. Those with rheumatic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis may be more likely to have fibromyalgia; as are those who have a family member with fibromyalgia. Research is still being done to understand the cause of this condition.
Check out our next blog on the best treatments for fibromyalgia.
Cold Weather Exercise: Tips for Staying Safe
- Published on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 15:03
- Written by Kateri
Our last blog discussed misconceptions about cold weather exercise and some of the dangers. Now we will discuss the proper protocol for staying safe while working out in the cold.
The best defense against frostbite and hypothermia is to dress appropriately. THIS DOES NOT MEAN TO OVERDRESS! If you overdress, then you will sweat more, thus resulting in a greater loss of heat. Instead, DRESS IN LAYERS. Your bottom layer should be a thin material that draws sweat away from the body, like polypropylene. You do not want the bottom layer to be cotton because it will absorb your sweat and stay wet close to your body. The next layer should be for insulation like fleece or wool. The last layer should be waterproof, but breathable to allow moisture to escape. If you start to sweat while you are exercising you can remove layers and put them back on as needed.
Wearing a hat is essential. Heat loss from the head alone is 50% at the freezing mark. Make sure the hat covers your ears as well to avoid frostbite. A scarf may also be worn to assist with preventing heat loss from the neck. The body will shunt blood flow from the hands and feet to the center of the body to keep organs warm, so wearing gloves and extra layers of socks is important. You may want to consider using two layers of gloves as well. This way you can use a thinner polypropylene layer closer to your skin and remove the outer layer as needed if you begin to sweat. If the temperature falls below a comfortable level (typically below 0ºF), try placing a scarf across your face to warm the air you are breathing.
Someone who has a lot of muscle mass will tend to stay warmer with exercise in the cold because muscle generates heat and keeps the body warm. The same is true for someone with a layer of fat under his/her skin because fat does not allow heat to transfer out of the body as quickly. An inexperienced or out-of-shape person may be more prone to hypothermia because they may have to take repeated rest breaks during activity. When your body rests from activity while you are out in the cold, you have cut off your source of heat and are therefore more vulnerable to the elements. If you are running in the cold, you may want to perform multiple laps around a shorter route that passes in front of your home. That way, it you become tired or cold, you are not too far from home in order to rest inside.
Another important tip to remember is to stay hydrated. You may not feel like you are sweating as much or becoming dehydrated, but you are just as likely to get dehydrated in the cold as in the heat. Your sweating, breathing, and increased urine production in the cold may be dehydrating you without you even noticing; so make sure you stay hydrated with water or a sport drink, depending on how intensely you are exercising.