Exercises that are good for fibromyalgia

Last updated date: 18-Jul-2021

Acibadem Adana Hospital

4 mins read

You may cope with the problems arising out of fibromyalgia by doing simple exercises regularly.

Fibromyalgia decreases quality of your life

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a disease that has no exactly known cause and is manifested by sleep disorder, generalized muscle pain and tenderness, severe tiredness, fatigue and morning stiffness. Fibromyalgia is a chronic rheumatoid pain syndrome that involves muscles, ligaments and soft tissues. It is manifested by tenderness at certain body parts. Fibromyalgia is the second most common rheumatoid disease. Although it is more prevalent in middle aged women, it can be detected in children and elderly people.

Definition, etiology, pathogenesis and diagnosis of fibromyalgia are still controversial. If diagnosis of the disease delays or the condition cannot be correctly diagnosed, complaints relapse intermittently. Accordingly, quality of life reduces and loss of labor is also faced.


Signs of fibromyalgia

The most important sign of fibromyalgia is the tenderness at certain body parts. Other symptoms are as follows;

  • Generalized pain persisting for more than 6 months,
  • Perception of pain for the stimuli that do not cause; stronger feeling of any pain,
  • Morning tiredness, fatigue persisting throughout the day, poor sleep quality, difficulty in focusing on a work at the day time and resistance to exercise,
  • Seeing the events behind a smoke screen,  
  • Numbness, tingling, burn and coldness in hands and feet,
  • Complaints of dry eye,
  • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps),
  • Palpitation,
  • Edema-related sensitivity – although it varies in patients
  • Migraine, tension-type headache,
  • Depression, anxiety,
  • Constipation.


How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

There is no diagnostic test specific for the disease; on the other hand, laboratory tests and radiology studies may not point to any abnormal finding in these patients. These patients usually have already visited many physicians from various departments and they are unhappy and desperate that the pain will not alleviate even if the diagnosis is established; moreover, they experience problems frequently with their family members and colleagues, as their complaint of pain is not believed by others. Diagnosis is established in the light of clinical examination and evaluation of complaints. According to the diagnostic criteria set in 1990, the diagnosis required generalized pain that persists for more than 3 months and tenderness in 11 of 18 specific body parts; although new criteria were suggested in 2010 and 2013, superior of these criteria could not be clearly demonstrated.


Treatment of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a treatable disease. Success of the treatment requires assertiveness, team work and multidisciplinary approach. Combination of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments is recommended for fibromyalgia. Clinical picture and life conditions of the patient should be taken into consideration as a part of the treatment; personalized exercise plans are prescribed. Since there is no difference between the exercise done inside or outside the water, patients are recommended to do exercises where they feel comfortable. The goal of exercise is to reduce stress, protect and increase strength of muscles and determine the correct posture. Patients are recommended aerobic, stretching, strengthening, balance and coordination exercises as well as water aerobics.


Which exercise for fibromyalgia? And How?

Aerobic exercises, such as jogging, swimming and cycling, should be started for minimum 20 minutes per day in 2 to 3 days of the week. These exercises should be done regularly and strenuous exercises should be avoided. Muscles shorten due to long-term sitting and sedentary life, but it can be eliminated by stretching exercises in 5 to 10 repeats for 3 days of the week. Strengthening exercises should not be exhaustive and they ensure that the daily life is completed without any pain; for such exercises, the body weight, light weights or rubber tapes can be used. Strengthening exercises should be done for two days of the week and the frequency can be increased, as the muscles strengthen. Water aerobics is the type of exercises that the patients with fibromyalgia tolerate well, enjoy and maintain regularly. It is easier to move in the water; special and general muscle groups relax and the muscles are better supported, as a part of the body weight is carried by the water. It is recommended to do water aerobics for one hour per day in 3 days of the week. Fibromyalgia patients are also recommended yoga and Pilates that are ever increasingly gaining popularity. A professional trainer may supervise the patient to avoid strenuous exercise and adjust frequency and density of exercise in order to increase both parameters slowly.


Multidisciplinary approach is important in treatment of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a diagnosable and treatable disease. Failure to provide the intended effect with pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments alone is the most important challenge in treatment of the condition. It is demonstrated that the most effective treatment modalities for fibromyalgia include multidisciplinary pharmacological and rehabilitative approaches, regular and sustainable exercises, proper information of the patient and behavioral & cognitive therapies.



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