You are one of the 12 million, majority women, who suffers from the debilitating effects of the disease fibromyalgia.
You tried one of the three FDA approved medications (i.e. Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella) or alternative, non-FDA approved treatments or other methods of managing the symptoms and pain associated with the disease.
You have done massage, acupuncture and non-traditional methods. One thing you have not tried however is a regular regiment of exercise and exercising.
Studies have linked the improvement in a fibromyalgia patient’s brain function and lower incidents of pain related to the disease to those sufferers who exercise for a period of at least six weeks.
This has led to new assertions that exercise, as part of a multidisciplinary approach to managing the disease, works and promises new hope to fibromyalgia sufferers, although it is quickly pointed out that exercise alone is not the answer or replacement for clinical care.
The has no known cause but symptoms such as pain in the muscles and tendons, stress, anxiety and fatigue as well as depression are common among fibromyalgia patients.
Pain medications alone do not prove an effective enough cure or even a long term solution to the disease since over time certain patients develop resistant to a course of treatment, requiring a physician to be proactive with an alternative course.
Exercise as Part of the Pain Management Solution
It has been believed by some in the medical community that exercise provides patients suffering from the disease of fibromyalgia with a renewed sense of purpose and well-being.
It is also shown that memory improves through repetition practice through various different types of exercise regiments and routines.
Understanding just how exercise helps improvememory, a study was conducted with women specifically.
Through the administration of a simple MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test, a baseline was established for each participant’s brain function.
The tests included such tasks as rote memorization and regurgitation of letter sequences after they were gauge well-being and pain, also while receiving pain medication.
After the baseline was established, medications were removed for a six week time frame called the washout period.
After the six weeks elapsed, an aerobic exercise program began, under close supervision, for 30 minutes a week for six weeks.
During both the washout period and six week aerobic exercises, additional MRIs were administered to the 9 women participating in study trials.
Findings of the MRI Study
Some of the initial finding showed an increase in pain and a lower performance on the memory tests in the six weeks following the initial baseline MRI, when no medications were administered.
When exercise was administered in the subsequent six weeks, brain and memory function returned to the pre-washout levels.
Although the expectation that exercise would improve memory function in the brain, exercise alone is not enough for fibromyalgia patients (hence a multidisciplinary approach).
There is some belief that exercise is an important aspect of the pain management treatment.
Need for Further Study
Although much more information is needed concerning the relationship between exercise and the disease, it is for certain that there are positive benefits derived from engaging in some level of physical activity.
As the preliminary test results with the nine women indicate, the return to normal levels of memory function occurred after a substitute for the pain medicine – supervised aerobic exercise – was introduced.
Certainly other questions need to be answered with respect to the cause and effect of exercise on improving memory and lowering pain.
For starters, would the same results be derived from a group of nine men as oppose to nine women? Were the women the same age, race, physical build?
Did the women suffer from the disease for the same amount of time? These are important in order to establish a pattern that truly supports the notion that light to moderate supervised exercise has a positive overall impact on the lives of fibromyalgia sufferers.
How to Exercise with Fibromyalgia
Exercise is important to all people, not just those who suffer from fibromyalgia. In order to engage in a meaningful program of physical fitness and exercise, as a sufferer of fibromyalgia certain precautions and steps should be taken.
These include consulting with and hiring a competent, licensed physical therapist, mapping out an exercise program that takes into account your physical ability and the level of pain and stress you feel as a result of the disease and staying consist with the level of physical activity in order to produce meaningful results.
The trick of course is understanding that the pain and stress to the muscles and joints that you experience because of the disease limits you from doing the vary exercises that you need to do to limit that pain and stress.
Proceed under advisement and counsel of your physical therapist and/or physician managing the disease with you.
Proceeding with a Plan of Action
Your first steps involve a consultation and engagement of a licensed physical therapist.
You want to interview different therapists to determine the extent of their knowledge with respect to working with fibromyalgia patients.
If a person who seems qualifies and meets your prerequisites but has never worked with a client who has your disease, you could very well wind up as their guinea pig, a position you may not want to be in.
Once you find a qualified and experienced physical therapist, create a program of physical activity that meets your needs and matches you physical ability.
This includes stretching of muscles to lower pain, low impact aerobic and aquatic exercises.
These activities each work to eliminate the sleeplessness and sleep interruption that you experience by making you tired as well as channeling pain away from those muscle area that are affected by the disease and lower your overall level of pain.
Finally, you want to follow-through and stay consistent in your approach to physical activity.
You do not have to overexert yourself and the concept of “no pain, no gain” is not applicable.
The goal it to feel better about yourself and to get your body moving in order to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia affecting your body.