Fibromyalgia is a disorder that effects multiple systems in the body with symptoms including chronic deep muscle pain, depression, memory disruption and sleep disturbances. Chronic psychological stress coupled with an inappropriate stress response is noted to be the primary cause of fibromyalgia in a recent review by Charles Vierck, published in the journal of Pain Research and Treatment.
The imbalance in the nervous system causes an individual to spend a prolonged time in what is often referred to as “fight or flight” state. Being in this state can amplify all symptoms and over time lead to a reduction in blood flow to muscles, causing a deep pain.
Exercise, as described in the article, can help individuals decrease their stress while also conditioning muscles and increasing blood flow throughout the body. There is evidence that supports exercise in the treatment of fibromyalgia especially in regards to pain management.
While most people with fibromyalgia shy away from exercise because of the initial pain and discomfort associated with it, those who are able to maintain a steady workout routine are able to reap the long term benefits of exercise- decreased pain and stress along with better sleep.
Vierck notes that it is “not feasible to treat each of these disorders [pain, insomnia, depression] separately (e.g., with pharmacological agents directed specifically to treat each disorder).” However, exercise shows promise in being able to address multiple symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Just like any other aspect of health, exercise too should be individualized. Starting slow and working with a professional can ensure you have a routine best suited to your needs. Vierck recommends implementing therapies used to address the psychological stress along with exercise as a more complete means of treatment. Mind-Body exercises like Yoga and Pilates can aid in addressing both mental and physical stress.
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