THE RICHEIMER PAIN
from The Richeimer Pain Institute
Imagine a severe case of "the blahs" combined with all over achiness. It just won't go away. In fact, the aches turn into outright pains with any type of exertion. As time passes, "the blahs" get worse and turn into a mixture of depression and exhaustion. Headaches and stomachaches develop, and the patient is tempted to spend all day in bed. Their life falls apart.
Welcome to the nightmare of fibromyalgia: a disease with no definitive cause, symptoms, tests, or treatments. The condition affects 3 to 7 million Americans, most commonly in women between 20-40 years old. The symptoms often overlap with those of other conditions: migraines and other headaches, depression, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and sleep disorders. It is not clear if these conditions tend to co-exist with fibromyalgia, are caused by fibromyalgia, or if fibromyalgia and these conditions appear similar.
Exercise appears to be a crucial, albeit difficult, part of the treatment. Patients with fibromyalgia are extremely sensitive to activity and exertion and can experience flares of pain with minimal exercise. Yet, if the patient is to resume any normal function and quality of life, it is crucial for the patient to build tolerance to activity. When done slowly and properly, exercise can have tremendous therapeutic benefit. Besides traditional physical therapy, we have found that tailored programs of pool therapy and Tai Chi exercises can be very helpful.
Crucial elements for overcoming the pain, debilitation, loss, and depression that accompany fibromyalgia are the psychological therapies including biofeedback, relaxation training, stress management and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Occupational therapy can be very useful with helping a patient to learn how to pace and manage daily activities.
There is help
Until next time Steven Richeimer, M.D.
For more information, go to the Fibromyalgia section of Pain News on our website.
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