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Answer transcribed from Brightway's interview with Dr. Cristen Gordon (pt.1):
Fibromyalgia is a tricky one. Pain issues abound of course with fibromyalgia, but the key to at least getting the pain levels down so that you can function and do your daily routine is a multi-pronged approach. As a physical therapist, I'm going to be teaching my patients stretching exercises. If I see muscle imbalance, we may be looking at some strengthening exercises. We will have a discussion about fatigue management because that can be an issue with fibromyalgia, so we're going to come up with an exercise routine that helps you feel better without wearing you out. That's number one, mindfulness and wellness meditation. I go back to adaptive yoga and tai chi, those are also good things to get into the mix. You may not be doing yoga every day, but if you could get it in once or twice a week, that will help in conjunction with the exercises your therapist has prescribed.
Then there is the actual pain management modality. Your therapist may show you how to use heat, ice, or electric stimulation for pain management. Beyond that, there are options in acupuncture and pain medications. You have to talk to the doctor about that and again, all of these things need to be working together. That could be a conversation about taking your pain medicine at a certain time so that you can stretch at another time. All of your healthcare people will have to work together to figure out what works best for you. The other thing I talk about from a physical therapy perspective is exercises for range of motion and strengthening. Believe it or not, cardio helps as well. Again, you'll have to find the cardio program that is not going to fatigue you or will worry you out too much. I've had a lot of patients with fibromyalgia get good relief from aquatic therapy if you don't mind getting in the pool. If you like getting in the pool, there's a lot of benefits to exercising in a pool. Again, you'd want to have a professional create an exercise program for you, but you can get the cardio workout in the pool as well as some stretching and strengthening exercises. Because fibromyalgia is such a life-changing diagnosis, you definitely have to take a multi-pronged approach. I would dare to say there's probably not one routine that you could do every day to manage your pain because the pain changes, but you want to have an arsenal that you can pull from when you need it.