Water Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a common condition that presents as pain that affects the whole body. Not only is fibromyalgia more known for this widespread pain, but it is also often associated with significant fatigue, and can affect sleep, memory loss, and mood changes. Fibromyalgia often begins after stress, trauma, surgery, or infection. Sometimes no specific event may cause fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia often appears more in women than in men.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
The main symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties. This pain is often described as dull and achy and occurs throughout the entire body. Fatigue is often described as waking up feeling constantly tired. Sleep can often be interrupted by pain. People with fibromyalgia can also experience sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. A very common symptom of fibromyalgia is reported as “fibro fog”. This increases the difficulty to be able to focus, pay attention to details, or concentrate on a certain task. Although pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties are the main symptoms, fibromyalgia can exist with other conditions. These conditions may be irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, interstitial cystitis, TMJ, anxiety, depression, or postural tachycardia syndrome.
What causes Fibromyalgia specifically?
It is often believed that repetitious nerve stimulation can cause the brain and spinal cord to change. The brain seems to develop a memory of the pain and becomes sensitized leading to an increase in pain with when performing activities that were before not painful. Factors that can lead to these changes include genetics, infections, and physical or emotional events.
How is fibromyalgia treated?
Therapy and lifestyle changes can help improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. These may include stress management techniques, nutrition, cognitive behavioral therapy, changes in sleep habits, occupational, physical, or aquatic therapy,
How can therapy help fibromyalgia?
Therapy can help reduce stiffness and fatigue. Physical therapy will help strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and increase range of motion to decrease pain. Physical therapy will also help build endurance to decrease fatigue. Occupational therapy can help adjust lifestyle to make daily living easier and more enjoyable. Occupational Therapists can help find ways to make work responsibilities easier to finish, finish tasks in the home environment, and enjoy recreational activities with a decrease in pain. Aquatic therapy allows you to exercise with less pain as it allows for muscle relaxation and movement with decreased stress on weight-bearing joints. Movement in warm water increases blood flow, promotes relaxation, and decreases stiffness. Exercise in warm water with a therapist that understands chronic pain can lift your mood too! Nobody likes to hurt when they move. Movement and activity are key in the treatment of chronic pain. Let us teach you how to move without increasing your pain.
Hear from one of our patients and her experience with aquatic therapy for fibromyalgia:
My name is Carissa Wetenkamp and I am 31 years old. I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was around 17 years old. I had it before then but had just thought my previous pains were just growing pains and being an active kid in sports. My main areas of pain have always been in my back and hips. For me my symptoms have varied throughout the years. From pain in the trigger points, feeling like I have broken bones, to sensitivity to touch and clothing. At one point I was even using a walker/cane to get around and quit working since I couldnt keep a job due to fibromyalgia related absences. I have tried many treatments throughout the years. I have tried yoga and pilates, medications, and physical therapy. It wasnt until I started going to progressive beginnings and coming off of all my medications while trying to conceive that I have felt the best I ever have. Water therapy has been the most helpful. The warm water and stretches are amazing and the therapists are extremely helpful. The amount of things they noticed my body was doing to compensate for pains and weeknesses was more than anyone had noticed before. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be working a full time job again and I wouldn't be meeting all the goals I have for myself with fibromyalgia.
Our goal is not only to teach you an exercise but rather to make movement part of your life. Call us today to set up your evaluation!
Blog written by: Maria Lensmire, PTA