Fibromyalgia, also called Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
As well as widespread pain, people with Fibromyalgia may also have:
- increased sensitivity to pain
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- muscle stiffness
- difficulty sleeping
- problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”) – such as problems with memory and concentration
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
You can find information from the NHS on fibromyalgia here
Fibromyalgia is often a very worrying and painful condition with widespread pain that is unpredictable and comes on with no warning. For some patients even clothes or a light bed sheet can cause pain. As Fibromyalgia is a long term condition, people suffering from it have often seen lots of health professionals by the time they see an osteopath. They often attend our Clinic saying “I have been everywhere” or “I have tried everything”.
Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose and manage and like all “invisible illness” (conditions without obvious external signs) people often feel they are not listened to or believed. We will listen. During a consultation you will have the chance to tell your story, explain your pain and symptoms and how it affects your life. No two people are the same and so we all have slightly different pain and ways to deal with it.
5 ways to manage Fibromyalgia
This can be as simple as not overdoing it – the ‘spoons’ theory can help. We start the day with a set number of spoons and each activity costs us different amounts of energy – or spoons – to undertake.
Another analogy for the fatigue of Fibromyalgia is forgetting to charge your phone and having the whole day with low battery. Make sure you are getting adequate rest and taking breaks to manage your energy levels.
Mindfulness or meditation and relaxation can help with this. Get involved with activities you enjoy and take time for yourself.
Aerobic exercise to get your heart rate up and improve breathing is effective in reducing some symptoms. Be sure to work to your comfort level. For example, if jogging is too hard, try a brisk walk or a swim.
Resistance training such as moderate weight training is effective and recommended for the muscle pain, depression and quality of life associated with Fibromyalgia. Start slow and build up.
Relaxing exercise like Thai Chi and Yoga are also recommended for both the mind and body. These classes are often gentle and a good way to start out exercising, especially if you have Fibromyalgia.
Diet and Hydration
Make sure you get adequate levels of fluid through the day and avoid dehydration as well as consuming lots of fruit and vegetables for general health. Nutritional deficiencies can often play a role in chronic pain and so its important that you get enough good quality nutrition from your food.
Hands on Treatment
Some people with Fibromyalgia find massage to an effective way to reduce pain as well as being a good way to relax.
Acupuncture is often used and is a gentle way to treat muscles and some joints.
Manipulation or gentle stretching and movement is a way osteopaths treat lots of pains in the body and these can be used if you have Fibromyalgia, it is often used for headaches that are due to tension in the upper back or neck.
Often people with Fibromyalgia have other causes of pain as well as Fibromyalgia Syndrome, (FMS). It may be different to your usual pain but you can still get an injury or back pain just like anyone else. Injury or pain may not be connected to your Fibromyalgia. We will listen to you as it can be very frustrating to have pain and be told “it’s just your Fibromyalgia.” We can assess and work to help with any additional muscle bone or joint issues you may have. Osteopaths train for 4 or 5 years to diagnose and treat these kinds of conditions and so you are in safe hands all of our staff are experienced in treating patients with Fibromyalgia and would be happy to discuss ways in which we can help you. Osteopathy and massage are very safe techniques for people suffering with Fibromyalgia.
It can be very helpful to attend support groups, meeting and learning from others whoi have similar symptoms and experiences to your own. Search online for Fibromyalgia Action UK and UK Fibromyalgia to find groups near to you.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is unclear. However, current thinking in the field of Rheumatology suggests that Fibromyalgia is a problem with central pain processing in the brain, where there may be an increased sensitivity or perception of pain to a given trigger.
There is a range of likely risk factors, including:
- A stressful, traumatic physical or emotional event, such as a car accident
- Repetitive injuries
- Rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
- Central nervous system (CNS) problems
- The way our genes regulate how we process painful stimuli
Fibromyalgia may also be hereditary. Females who have a close relative with Fibromyalgia have a higher risk of experiencing it themselves.
People with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or spinal arthritis, known ankylosing spondylitis, have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia, as do patients with some other rheumatic diseases.
Research suggests that there’s an interaction between physical, neurological and psychological factors. The pain we feel is often affected by our emotions and moods – depression or anxiety can make the pain seem worse. At the same time, being in pain can lead to stress, worry or low mood.
Usually, people feel pain when part of the body is damaged (as in arthritis) or suffers a physical injury. The pain people with Fibromyalgia feel is different because it’s not directly caused by damage or injury to the area that’s hurting. Instead there’s a problem with the way the brain and nervous system process pain from that area. This doesn’t mean the pain is any less real, but because there’s no physical damage that can be healed there’s no easy way to stop the pain. This is why Fibromyalgia pain can be long-lasting (chronic).
What to do now ……
If you’ve come to this website looking for help, then don’t in silence suffer any longer.
Contact us immediately on 01462 811006 for a consultation and let’s assess your condition.
At the assessment, we’ll take some details from you and build your case history. We’ll discuss why you’ve come to see us and where you have any aches and pains. Then we’ll examine you with the aim of giving you the appropriate treatment.
This will take a little while to complete, but it’s a necessary part of the ethical guidelines we work to. The guidelines are there to make sure everything is done professionally and to a high standard of patient care. I’m sure you agree that’s a good thing!
If you have any questions about what we do and how we do it, call us on 01462 811006 or use the contact form below – and we’ll be happy to help.