Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome associated with widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to touch, noise and light. It is often associated with other medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders and migraines. Women are diagnosed 3 times more often than men, commonly after an injury, trauma or stressful event. Fibromyalgia can also develop slowly over time.
So how is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Your physio or GP may suspect a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and refer you to see a rheumatologist.
The rheumatologist will take your history, and then order some blood tests in order to rule out medical conditions that might present similarly. The old criteria included pain over 11 out of 18 known trigger points. However, the updated criteria is widespread pain across 4 different regions of your body for more than 3 months. The regions are left upper arm and jaw, right upper arm and jaw, left leg and hip, right leg and hip and the head, back, chest and abdomen area.
Received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and want to know what to expect next?
- The rheumatologist may suggest some medications to help with pain management.
- Sleep management is another aspect which is crucial in managing fibromyalgia symptoms.
Developing a night time routine and environment that helps to aid sleep, as well as learning relaxation techniques, both of which your physio can teach you.
- The most important part of treatment though is adaptation of lifestyle.
This doesn’t mean stopping all the things you find aggravating, but rather learning to pace all the activities in your day and life so that you can achieve balance with an enjoyable lifestyle whilst managing your symptoms. To start with many people find this very challenging and confronting, admitting that they need to limit certain activities or what they perceive they need to accomplish in a set time, learn to say no when they want to say yes, doing too much when they feel good. Watch out for our next video to learn some tips to help with lifestyle adaption and pacing.
- Exercise is also extremely important to manage fibromyalgia.
Exercising under the supervision of a physiotherapist will ensure your exercise is tailored to you. Having a program that addresses your individual joint stiffness, muscle weakness and general fitness will provide the best strategy for improving your quality of life and your daily function. Your program may include a combination of hydrotherapy, land based exercises, resistance training and cardiovascular exercise depending on your assessment and goals. This is where we can really help you with a plan that is designed for you and supervised.
If you have received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and you would like to get started on the right exercise program for you, as well as getting help with pacing, lifestyle adaption and relaxation strategies – give us a buzz at Miami Physio or Lakelands Physio.