How Physical Therapy Can Help Fibromyalgia


What is physical therapy?

The main goals of physical therapy (PT) are to provide pain management, improve mobility, maximize functionality, implement injury recovery, and prevent future damage. A physical therapist evaluates the person and condition to treat illnesses and injuries related to the musculoskeletal (bones and muscles), neurological (brain), cardiopulmonary (heart and lungs) and integumentary (skin) systems.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that involves widespread muscle pain (myalgias) and joint pain (arthralgias). In some cases, the onset of fibromyalgia symptoms begins after a physically or emotionally traumatic event, such as a car accident; in other cases, symptoms start insidiously, gradually worsening over time.

How physical therapy can help fibromyalgia

There is no identified cure for fibromyalgia; however, physical therapy can ease the symptoms. A physical therapist helps increase mobility, reduce pain, and restore function, which improves overall health and wellbeing. Specific stretches and strengthening programs can be developed based on individualized needs.

Pain reduction

The primary goal of physical therapy as a fibromyalgia treatment is to understand what specific exercises and treatments achieve the most pain relief. Physical therapy can decrease muscle stiffness, which reduces pain. Water-based therapy may be a particularly beneficial treatment for those with fibromyalgia.

Improved range of motion

Physical therapists use a wide variety of resources to improve range of motion and build strength. They can employ types of physical therapy, such as deep tissue massage, to ease pain and muscle stiffness. Stretching also improves flexibility and range of motion.

Relaying important information

A physical therapist can explain how fibromyalgia affects the body, and how the body perceives and responds to pain. Learning new techniques on how to make smart decisions regarding daily activities can aid in the prevention of painful flare-ups.

Specific treatment program

A physical therapist works with individuals to design a treatment program specific to their fibromyalgia condition and particular goals. They will also record progress being made and evaluate treatment success. Suitable therapy routines and movements will be developed to practice at home.