What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterised by unexplained, chronic and widespread pain throughout the body. The severity of symptoms can vary greatly between those affected, with the most common complaints including:
- Flu-like body aches
- Muscle tenderness
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Problems with cognition (including memory and concentration)
- Bladder/bowel problems
Fibromyalgia is not a progressive condition, as it does not cause any damage or inflammation to the body tissue where the pain is felt. Those affected will find that the severity of their symptoms will vary greatly over time. Symptoms may even disappear for extended periods of time with the appropriate management. Fibromyalgia sufferers often report flare-ups of pain tend to coincide with stressful periods, weather changes and with overexertion.
Who is most affected?
Fibromyalgia affects between 2-4% of the population, unfortunately though, many people go undiagnosed. This is due to there being no ‘gold-standard’ testing available. As a result, it takes between 5-7 years on average to diagnosis Fibromyalgia. This usually includes tests to rule out other conditions which could be causing the symptoms and a physical assessment of tender points through the body.
Women are 9 times more likely to develop the condition and it can affect people of any age, but is most prevalent in the 40-60 year old age group.
There is a huge correlation between fibromyalgia and anxiety/depression disorders. Additional triggers of fibromyalgia include having a history of physical trauma (in particular motor vehicle accidents), post-traumatic stress disorder, obesity and autoimmune disorders.
What can you do to manage your symptoms?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, so there is no cure, but there are ways to manage your symptoms. In addition to medical management, exercise based therapy is an integral component of managing the condition long-term. In particular, low impact exercises such as walking, hydrotherapy and Pilates are effective activities for reducing your symptoms as well as your general health.
Other important tools include stress management and relaxation techniques, pacing your activity, eating a balanced diet and having a good support network around you.
If you are living with chronic pain or fibromyalgia, have a chat to your physiotherapist about commencing an appropriate exercise routine to manage your symptoms and optimise your quality of life.
At Total Physiocare, we run both 1 on 1 and group Pilates classes taken by a Physiotherapist at our Camberwell, Heidelberg and Reservoir Clinics. We also conduct Hydrotherapy classes at Reservoir Leisure Centre twice weekly. Additionally we have gym facilities at all clinics, and can provide you with an individualised exercise program (eldercise) or our Total Fit program to set you up with the tools for long-term effective management of Fibromyalgia.