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Moving Through Fibromyalgia with Physical and Occupational Therapy


Moving Through Fibromyalgia with Physical and Occupational Therapy

Nearly 5 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia, a chronic condition causing widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive issues. It can be difficult to manage and can severely impact quality of life. The best treatment plans combine exercise, modalities and education, as experts in all three, physical therapists and occupational therapists are the perfect practitioners to help!


Currently, recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia include patient education and non-pharmacological interventions. The right exercise routine can help with pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and more. A combination of strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercise is the most effective. You and your physical therapist will work together to find the right type and intensity of exercise to best manage your symptoms. 


Exercise is not the only tool the physical therapists use to help people with fibromyalgia. Gentle manual therapy and massage have been shown to help reduce pain and muscle stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. Physical and occupational therapists also use modalities to reduce symptoms.

Examples include:

  • Electrical stimulation
  • Biofeedback
  • Dry needling 

In addition to land-based exercise, your therapist may recommend aquatic exericse, combining the benefits of exercise with the warmth of a therapeutic pool. 


Education is another important tool in manaing fibromyalgia. Physical and occupational therapists spend more time with their patients than most other practitioners, helping you understand your symptoms, coaching you through activities and positions, empowering you to take control of your health.  Research shows that people with more knowledge about their condition have better outcomes, more confidence, and cope better. 

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, physical and occupational therapists can help with pain management, strength, mobility, fatigue and function to help patients find relief from their symptoms. 


Effectiveness of exercise:

Physical Therapist care for fibromyalgia:

Benefits of exercise in fibromyalgia: 

Benefits of manual therapy in fibromyalgia: ​​

Aquatic physical therapy and fibromyalgia:

Effectiveness of exercise on fatigue in fibromyalgia:

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