What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia may be healthcare’s most poorly understood condition. It is a condition that is characterized by generalized pain, tenderness, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, digestive problems like irritable bowel or constipation, reflux, and poor sleep hygiene. It is diagnosed through deduction. Typically blood tests and other diagnostics are negative, leaving the only possible cause of these symptoms to be fibromyalgia.
It is classified as a rheumatic condition, though it does not cause muscle, bone or joint destruction. Most research now points to this condition as carrying a strong familial component, with females being nearly twice as likely to suffer from it. Those that have fibromyalgia are also 2 to 7 times more likely to have other medical co-morbidities like auto-immune dysfunctions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. 1
There are several very common mistakes in the management of fibromyalgia. First, there is a “one cause, one treatment” approach that many practitioners employ to combat a patient’s symptoms. Many physical therapists treat fibromyalgia with therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques like massage, myofacial release, cranio-sacral treatment, and modalities like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, or LASER. While these treatments can abate some of the symptoms, they never fix the problems. Pharmacological management typically aims to address the symptoms and not the syndrome as well. The thinking that one thing can significantly produce a positive outcome would be naive.
The next mistake in management of fibromyalgia is there is a lack of understanding of what systems are involved in the process of the disorder, and what should be done to treat it. There are multiple systems in the body that are malfunctioning that are creating the symptoms experienced in fibromyalgia. When the research is examined, these are typical systems involved:
* The immune system.
* The digestive system.
* The endocrine system (thyroid and adrenal glands).
* The liver.
* The brain.
There are also several side conditions that are typically present as well, and they are:
* Blood sugar imbalances
* Hormone imbalances
The primary goal or treatment should be to “fix” mechanism, so that at the end of treatment you need very few medications or supplements. When functioning optimally, the body does not require much assistance.
The first thing both patients and practitioners should know is that fibromyalgia is just a word or a label, and there are health care practitioners that can manage each of these systems, and conditions and lead those suffering in the grips of chronic pain to a brighter tomorrow.
Any questions or if you are looking for more information please feel free to visit our websites.
Ryan Whelton MSPT, DPT
About the Author
Dr. Whelton is a Super Bowl XXXVIII champion physical therapist in New Tampa & Wesley Chapel, FL. He now owns a physical therapy clinic in New Tampa, FL. As a doctor of physical therapy and owner of Sport and Spine Physical Therapy and Wellness Center in Tampa, he has developed self help videos, sharing his expertise. Dr. Whelton’s experience also includes working in the NBA, UFC fighters as well as working with our nation’s veterans at the VA hospital. Working as a physical therapist in Tampa at James A. Haley VA hospital he rehabilitated our nation’s veterans and active duty soldiers home from war.
Sport and Spine PT has a 98% success rate in returning their patients back to their prior level of function. Programs offered at Sport and Spine PT and Wellness include: Pediatric Physical Therapy, Fibromyalgia Relief Program. Back and Neck Pain relief programs, TMJ and Headache Relief Program (only PT in Tampa). Adolescent sports injury and training prevention. We work with young athletes preparing them for college athletics improving speed/agility, strength, and power both on-site and in clinic. Weight loss programs without drugs. His clinic offers neuromuscular massage therapy, yoga and Pilates classes.
Twitter at @TampaBackPain