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Alex asked...

What is Fibromyalgia?

Tags: exercise , injury

I would appreciate any information or advice on Fibromyalgia with regards to treatment, Physiotherapy Acupuncture etc:

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The answer

‘-Algia’ is the medical word for any pain. ‘Fibromy-’ means the pain comes from muscles and fibrous tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Research hasn’t yet uncovered precisely what causes this distressing and debilitating condition, but it’s thought it may be linked to the brain being ‘super-sensitised’ to some forms of pain.

In 2007, a group of experts from 11 countries got together to examine the scientific evidence for fibromyalgia treatment. One of the main areas was exercise. If you ache all over, it can be difficult to imagine that exercise can help. However, there is good evidence for some people in ‘graded’ exercise – building up slowly over a few months from as little as six minutes at a time mostly walking on treadmills, or using exercise bicycles. In one study in the British Medical Journal, after three months, about 1 in 3 people who did the exercise programme rated themselves as much, or very much, better. Heated pool treatment and a kind of talking therapy called CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) may also help – fibromyalgia may not be caused by a mental health problem but if almost always causes mental distress. 

There isn’t a lot of evidence that acupuncture, massage or aromatherapy help in fibromyalgia. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used – it can be difficult to get the scientific ‘proof’ for these treatments because it’s hard to design a trial which tests how much benefit is ‘real’ and how much comes from the patient believing the treatment will help. In this case, I don’t think it matters why you’re getting benefit – these treatments are safe and there’s no doubt that many women feel they help.

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