Exercise To Ease Pain In Fibromyalgia

by Metreye

Regular low impact exercises such as stretching and walking for at least 20-30 minutes 3-4 days a week, can reduce chronic pain symptoms in fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain in muscles, joints and bones, associated with stiffness, tingling and sensations of pins and needles (paraesthesias), non restorative sleep and fatigue. Found predominantly in women, it presents as generalized aches and pains, stiffness of trunk, hip and shoulder girdles, weakness and lower back pain that may radiate into buttocks and legs.

Stretching exercises reduce pain
Stretching exercises reduce pain

Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

In this condition, even mild exertion can lead to a burning or gnawing pain that may begin in one region like shoulders, neck and lower back, and eventually becomes widespread. Also there may be pain and tightness in the neck and across the upper posterior shoulders.There may be numbness of hands and feet, and pale white fingers. There is disruption of non rapid eye movement deep sleep. Such individuals feel exhausted most of the while and wake up tired.

 Criteria for Fibromyalgia :

1. History of widespread pain that includes - 

  • Pain in the left side of body
  • Pain in the right side
  • Pain above the waist 
  • Pain below the waist
  • Axial skeletal pain (cervical spine/thoracic spine/lower back)

2. Pain on touch or tenderness at following sites :

  • Occiput
  • Lower cervical
  • Upper posterior shoulders
  • Second rib
  • Upper outer quadrant of each buttock
  • Greater trochanter
  • Knee


Regular low impact exercises reduce discomfort of fibromyalgia

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Exercise Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia may be triggered by emotional stress, medical illness, surgery, hypothyroidism and trauma. The disorders commonly associated with this condition include parvo virus B19 infection, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bladder, migraine headaches and restless leg syndrome. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have many similarities, in that both are associated with fatigue, abnormal sleep, muscle and joint pains, and anxiety. Individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome, however, may at times present as a viral illness with mild fever, sore throat and pain and enlargement of lymph nodes.

Various therapies that offer partial relief in chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia include the following :

  • Non steroidal anti inflammatory medicines
  • Oral steroids
  • Local heat
  • Massage
  • Steroid injections at tender spots
  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Stress management
  • Relaxation response training

Antidepressants and anti anxiety medicines help in improving sleep and overall condition. Individuals suffering from fibromyalgia may benefit from regular low impact exercises that are begun at a low level. Eventually the person should be exercising for 20-30 minutes 3-4 days in a week. Combining strength training (low intensity), stretching and walking in a single exercise program can alleviate chronic pain symptoms and make normal daily activities more comfortable.

Updated: 12/30/2014, Metreye
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