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What Is Fibromyalgia and What Are the Recommended Treatment Options?

  • Category: Articles by Clinicians
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  • Written By: Debbi Huskey, PT, CLT, Fibromyalgia Program
What Is Fibromyalgia and What Are the Recommended Treatment Options?

In “Fibromyalgia: Creating a Treatment Plan,” Carol DerSarkissian, MD states, “Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition. It has no specific causes or known cure. Yet for those who have it—as many as one in 50 Americans—the chronic pain, fatigue, and psychological strain of fibromyalgia are all too clear.

“Fibromyalgia symptoms are treatable, however. Many experts believe the best treatment is a multifaceted approach that combines medication with lifestyle changes and alternative treatments. You may need to work with your doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly others to tailor a treatment plan to your needs.”

Debbi Huskey, PT, CLT

She adds, “Exercise is an important part of managing fibromyalgia symptoms. It can relieve pain, stress, and anxiety. The key is to start slowly. Begin with stretching and low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming or other water exercises, or bicycling. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or Pilates can also be helpful. If you want to increase the intensity of your exercise, talk with your doctor.”

Fibromyalgia can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life and lead to extensive use of healthcare services. Common symptoms include tenderness, sleep disturbance, decreases in physical functioning, and disruptions in psychological and cognitive functioning such as memory problems, diminished mental clarity, mood disturbances, and lack of well-being. The pain of fibromyalgia is often increased by a variety of factors, which may include exercising too much, being in one position for too long, or doing activities such as chores and cooking.

People often experience excessive sensitivity to touch, bright lights, loud noises, and fragrances, as well as heightened reactions to cold and heat. This increased pain can last from hours to several weeks. People diagnosed with fibromyalgia often state, “It’s like I have the aching flu all the time, night and day.” This constant, aching pain can lead to frustration, mood swings, depression, and general discouragement. It becomes difficult not only for the person with fibromyalgia, but also for their family and friends.

Casa Colina's Fibromyalgia Program offers supervised wellness activities that address these issues, and we follow a fibromyalgia treatment model that Dr. DerSarkissian recommends. This includes warm-water pool exercise, yoga, tai chi, and general exercise, as well as educational sessions to learn about the long-term management of symptoms to improve mobility and function. Our program also emphasizes lifestyle strategies such as pacing, energy conservation, nutrition, mindfulness, stress-reduction techniques, and general physical and occupational therapy support for individual medical issues.

In addition, Casa Colina offers a free monthly support group for adults diagnosed with fibromyalgia that provides educational and personal support. To learn more, call 909/596-7733, ext. 3500.