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Easing the "Ouch" that Hurts All Over

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition involving widespread joint and muscle pain and multiple "tender points". If you have Fibromyalgia, you may already know that most people who have the condition also suffer from fatigue and sleep disturbance. It is not uncommon for FM patients to experience chronic headaches, jaw pain (TMD) and to have a history of irritable bowel syndrome or food and chemical sensitivities. Problems with memory and concentration, sometimes called "fibro-fog", are also frequently reported in people who have the condition. FM mainly afflicts people between the ages of 35 and 55 and occurs seven to ten times more often in women. Read more...

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Recent studies show that FM is a complex condition involving problems in the functioning of the pain processing and sleep regulatory systems. There is involvement of the central nervous system as reflected by functional MRI and EEG brainwave monitoring and also significant dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is in charge of maintaining basic body functions that we take for granted. For instance, it regulates body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, bowel and bladder tone and many other variables. The system has two branches that have opposite tasks. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) accelerates the whole body and prepares it for flight or fight in response to stress. The parasympathetic limb favors digestive functions, sleep and recovery. Proper balance of these two branches preserves equilibrium and health.

For those dealing with fibromyalgia, the SNS tends to be hyperactive (generally three times higher during sleep than for those without FM) but paradoxically hypo-reactive to stress, perhaps because the system has already become overloaded. People often experience a triggering event that awakens fibromyalgia such as an infection, physical or emotional trauma, surgery or the development of another medical condition. Read more...

What Services are Available at Integrative Therapies to Treat Fibromyalgia?

Research demonstrates that fibromyalgia responds best to a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. Your doctor may have prescribed medications. Typically, prescriptions are focused on managing pain, improving sleep or helping to restore balance in neurotransmitter levels. Many people find that additional strategies are needed to truly feel their best. At Integrative Therapies, we work with you to develop an individualized treatment program that addresses your particular needs and interests. Treatment options available at the center are listed below:

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy interventions are important in the management of FM. Clinical massage, postural balancing techniques and modalities such as ultrasound and microcurrent stimulation can help with symptom reduction. Therapeutic exercise involving gentle stretching, yoga and aerobic conditioning also play a significant role in the rehabilitation process. Similarly, movement therapies such as Trager® neuromuscular re-education provide an opportunity to experience deep relaxation and gently reprogram the body for enhanced comfort. Patient education regarding ergonomics, biomechanics and pain management (conserving energy, pacing, etc.) can also be helpful in building a wellness program.

Regenerative Medicine: Sometimes people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are dealing with what is referred to as “lax ligament syndrome” or are having problems compounded by injured or weakened joints. These types of issues can lead muscles and other structures to work overtime causing imbalances and pain. Regenerative medicine treatments help regenerate and repair overstretched and weakened tendons and ligaments which can be at the root cause of painful conditions.

Biofeedback: This therapeutic tool involves monitoring and retraining of physical systems in the body and has been shown to be beneficial for FM patients. EMG feedback helps people reduce muscle tension and local soreness. Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback aids in restoring balance to the autonomic nervous system thereby reducing stress and helping people gain control over their symptoms.

Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback is a specialized form of biofeedback involving the monitoring and retraining of EEG brainwave patterns to enhance brain function. This type of training addresses the central nervous system which plays a role in the experience of global body pain and cognitive difficulties. People have found it beneficial in improving sleep, and reducing both pain and "Fibro-fog" symptoms.

Counseling and Stress Management: Coping with fibromyalgia can present many challenges. Not only can dealing with pain itself feel rather burdensome, but it can also have an effect on work, home and social life. A professional counselor can provide not only support, but offer skill building strategies to help manage pain, stress and improve relationships. At Integrative Therapies, counseling is often provided in conjunction with biofeedback and other mind-body therapies.

Nutritional Services: Nutritional health can play an important role in FM. Deficits in certain key nutrients can increase the likelihood of feeling fatigued and impact overall sense of well-being. Food sensitivities can also affect the way that you feel and can lead to a variety of symptoms such as headaches, joint and muscle pain and gastrointestinal problems. Testing and dietary counseling are available to address these issues in our Nutrition Department.

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve health and overall well-being. It involves the insertion of very fine needles at precise acupuncture points along 'meridians' in the body. Many people have found this approach helpful in managing pain, enhancing energy levels and improving sleep.

Bioenergetics and BodyTalk: Our bodies are made up of energy and information systems that communicate with each other to sustain life and maintain balanced functioning. Bioenergetic therapies work with a broad spectrum of energy and information concepts to support wellness. The BodyTalk system is based on the philosophy that our body has the inmate wisdom to know what problems and imbalances exist and is capable of healing itself. BodyTalk is designed to harmonize the energy networks and optimize the overall balance of the body.

Addressing "sub-conditions" that may exist: Many people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia are also dealing with other conditions that tend to coexist with FM. In order to truly make headway in the management of fibromyalgia, it is often very important to specifically address these other conditions. Some common diagnoses that often accompany fibromyalgia are IBS, headaches, TMJ, pelvic pain, interstitial cystitis and regional myofascial pain with trigger points. When needed, your healthcare team will work with you to include these issues in your overall treatment plan.


 

At Integrative Therapies, we are dedicated to serving people dealing with chronic pain. It is our mission to help you find comfort.

 

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