What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is actually a host of conditions and symptoms that occur together. The chief complaint of people who suffer from fibromyalgia is overall muscle pain. The very term ‘fibromyalgia’ is a composite of two Greek words (myo+algos) which mean “muscle pain.”
Those who suffer from fibromyalgia often report feeling soreness and tenderness of their muscles throughout the body with concentrations of pain around joint areas. The pain feels like a pulled, sprained or torn muscle which throbs dully when moving but hurts more when inactive.
Some feel lighter pain, while for others the pain is so intense it can affect the quality of life and really take over the sufferer’s life.
What other symptoms are associated with fibromyalgia?
Other symptoms that accompany the pain are chronic and debilitating fatigue, lack of energy, confusion and difficulty in concentrating, sleep disturbance and anxiety or depression.
Some people report feeling the symptoms of fibromyalgia in the aftermath of a traumatic event or traumatic injury.
Medical research has theorized that the pain is brought about by increased chemical activity in the brain, increasing the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain that triggers sensitivity to and perception of pain.
What explains the pain?
Since inactivity increases the discomfort, as well as, the social isolation of the person suffering from fibromyalgia, it is recommended by medical practitioners that the person suffering from this condition take medication, such as, pain relievers and muscle relaxants, but, compliment the drug therapy with a lifestyle change that involves modification of one’s diet and engaging in light to moderate exercise.
One of the most important things that people who suffer from this condition need to do is to not let the pain beat them.
This means trying all types of techniques and natural therapies, like, herbs, supplements and exercise to deal with the pain, but, to also address the emotional and psychological impact so that depression and anxiety does not become a big problem that will further impact the quality of life.
What are the benefits of exercise on fibromyalgia?
Since the patient’s muscles are in constant pain, any exercise regimen must be initiated with the advice and supervision of a doctor or medical professional.
Doctors caution patients that exercise of and by itself will probably not relieve fibromyalgia pain. The exercises will strengthen and relax muscles, prevent them from being tense, and promote blood circulation.
In time, the exercises will bring a more lasting feeling of well-being that will help combat the perception of pain.
The regular exercise will also enable the patient to better manage stress as stress increases the discomfort occasioned by the pain and sleep disturbance.
Things to remember when exercising:
- When exercising, take warm-up seriously. ‘Warming up’ means lightly stretching muscles before you take on any strenuous activities such as walking, dancing or even yoga. Pay attention to gently rotating the joints. Make sure that the rotation is slow and gentle. Make sure that the rotation is well within your comfort and range of motion.
- If you can exercise in warm water, so much the better. The heat in the water relieves pain and warms up the muscles, thereby improving blood circulation in the muscles. The water will also make the muscles a lot more flexible.
- Choose exercises that are low in intensity, but, high in stretching of muscles. Yoga is one example of an exercise regime that allows you to stretch muscles without overstretching them and it is very low impact on joints.
- Use weights when you can. If you decide to walk for your exercise, put a bottle of water in a belt bag which you can wear around your waist. Or you can buy a weight pack that you can wear around your ankles or your wrists. The added weight makes your movements a bit slower and more deliberate and this gives your muscles a deeper workout.
- It is important not to over-do the exercise. Short exercise sessions of around 25 minutes can be done two or three times a week. What is important to remember is that exercising consistently is more important to building muscle strength and resiliency than the intensity of the workout.