Easing the pain of Fibromyalgia
Easing the pain of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition of the fibrous tissues of the body such as tendons and ligaments (“fibro”) and the muscles (“my”) causing pain (“algia”). The widespread pain experienced by people with fibromyalgia can also be associated with fatigue as well as headaches, problems sleeping, irritable bowel, cognitive disturbances, dizziness and allergies.
Historically, fibromyalgia has been difficult to differentiate from other chronic conditions, but the now widely established criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia is as follows:
- Pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three months.
- Together with pain in at least 11 out of 18 point sites when they are pressed. These “tender points” are rarely noticed by patients until pressure is placed on them.
Fibromyalgia often develops after some sort of trauma but there isn’t always a trigger to the onset of the condition. According to Fibromyalgia Action UK, research has identified a deficiency in serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, coupled with an increase in the neurotransmitter substance P, which transmits pain signals. This means that pain signals might be processed differently in people with fibromyalgia, causing them to feel more pain than others might feel under a similar stimulus.
Treatments for fibromyalgia include over-the-counter painkillers, drugs for neuropathic pain such as pregabalin, and tricyclic drugs used to treat depression. These don’t work for everyone, however, so it’s important to find other ways for people to manage their symptoms.
Current guidelines for this include practising rest and relaxation techniques; having cognitive behavioural therapy or other talking therapies; using heat packs or a hydrotherapy pool for painful, stiff areas of the body; and doing paced, progressive exercise or activities. A healthy diet is also important, as is following advice on how to improve sleeping habits. Many people find that joining a support group assists them in developing a more positive outlook.
As people living with fibromyalgia know all too well, there is no quick fix to the condition but there is evidence that a multi-disciplinary approach is best. Here at Physiologic, we offer a number of therapies that may be of help to you, or someone you know, to manage the symptoms of this often debilitating condition.
Physiotherapists can guide you through a tailored progressive exercise programme to improve your aerobic fitness and endurance. They will also advise on muscular strength training to reduce the strain on tendons and ligaments and improve your overall conditioning. Improving the strength of major muscle groups can in turn make it easier to take part in aerobic exercises.
Bioenergetic medicine – practised here by Martha English using NES Health and acupuncture – addresses energy blockages which can occur as a result of unresolved traumas. Martha specialises in working with people who have chronic conditions and aims to get to the root of the problem using a variety of healing techniques and in a supportive manner.
There is anecdotal evidence that craniosacral therapy can be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia. The craniosacral system includes the brain and spinal cord as well as the cerebrospinal fluid (collectively known as the central nervous system or CNS). Craniosacral therapists such as Bruce Aitkin at Physiologic have a highly trained sense of touch (called palpation) and believe that the CNS elicits a palpable rhythmic impulse which can be felt and balanced during treatment to enable optimal function as well as give an extreme sense of relaxation.
Tanya Lawton offers one-to-one hypnosis: a gentle, effective and deeply relaxing way in which to access your subconscious and begin to change unwanted belief systems. It can help with a wide range of issues, including pain relief and sleeping difficulties.
Pilates and yoga
We offer small group pilates and yoga classes in relaxed and friendly surroundings where you can work at your own pace to improve your strength, flexibility and stamina.
Women’s Health Hub
We offer regular free health talks and workshops in an open and supportive environment at Physiologic. Call us to find out when the next event is taking place.
To find out more about all the above therapies, click on the Services or Team tabs above.