How Can Physiatry and Physical Therapy Help Fibromyalgia?

July 13, 2023

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The aching and burning pain throughout your body is constant. Sometimes it’s mild, occasionally intense and probably debilitating. Your muscles and joints are stiff, you’re always tired and your brain is foggy. You’re overly sensitive to touch and you’re suddenly depressed. Yet your doctors can’t pinpoint a cause even after a battery of blood tests. This is what it’s like living with fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is not just one condition but a complex syndrome. Its exact cause is unknown, but it’s thought to be a malfunctioning of the central nervous system.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness of muscles, tendons and joints. You may also have hypersensitivity to touch, trouble sleeping and depression. These symptoms may come and go but may also be accompanied by other rheumatic disorders. [1] [2]

What treatments are available for fibromyalgia?

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are ways to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Depending on your symptoms and their severity, your treatment might include:

  • Medications to help you sleep, reduce fatigue, and manage your pain or depression
  • Physical rehabilitation, including aerobic exercise and strength training to reduce your symptoms
  • Psychological treatment to manage your depression and adjust to your new limitations
  • Education for you and your family members about your condition and how to manage its symptoms

How can a physiatrist help your fibromyalgia?

Physiatrists like those at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation are fully trained medical doctors specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation; they treat people with disabilities that affect their physical and cognitive functioning. Physiatrists have a broad knowledge of the body’s biomechanics, musculoskeletal function and neurological disorders.

After your diagnosis, your physiatrist will design a treatment plan for you and manage your treatment program. They’ll prescribe treatments for other healthcare professionals to administer, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, pain specialists, neurologists, psychologists and others.

How can physical therapy help fibromyalgia?

People with fibromyalgia tend to become sedentary because moving can be painful. Unfortunately, inactivity makes fibromyalgia worse and can lead to other conditions.

Physical exercise is vital in treating fibromyalgia, as it helps to reduce pain and fatigue, relieve stiffness, reduce anxiety and improve psychological well-being. When these symptoms are reduced, so is the need for pharmaceutical medications – and less pain and less medicine enhance your ability to do the things you love to do.[3]

Your physical therapist at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation will administer the treatment prescribed by your physiatrist. They’ll show you how to relieve stiffness and pain, build strength and increase your range of motion. They can also help you obtain relief from deep muscle pain and teach you how to make decisions that help reduce painful flare-ups of your fibromyalgia.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, make an appointment with our chronic pain specialists. Visit our chronic pain page or call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).

[1] The Amercian Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Fibromyalgia,
[2] Physisopedia, Fibromyalgia
[3] NIH National Libary Of Medicine, The Role of Physiotherapy in fibromyalgia: current and future perspectives.