Fibromyalgia - What to Do When the Fibro Ignites

Fibromyalgia - What to Do When the Fibro IgnitesFibromyalgia What to Do When the Fibro Ignites

At Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy in Bedford and Alliance Forth Worth, TX, we see patients that are fighting the battle of fibromyalgia pain. Let's take a moment and break the word fibromyalgia down:

Fibro = fibrous tissues (ligaments that attach to bone and tendons that attach muscle to bone)
myo = muscle
algia = the Greek word for pain 

Fibromyalgia, though common, is a disease that's not well understood. It involves pain throughout the body, with especially tender spots near certain joints. The pain stops people with fibromyalgia from functioning normally, partly because they feel exhausted most of the time. Fibromyalgia is a chronic (meaning long-lasting) condition that usually requires many years of treatment. It can occur along with other forms of arthritis or all by itself. It can occur after an injury or out of the blue. 

It's usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50, and 80% to 90% of the people affected are women.

The most common symptoms are:

  • chronic pain all over the body
  • fatigue
  • memory problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • depression or anxiety.

Because of the wide range of symptoms, fibromyalgia can be a debilitating condition. It is not uncommon for people to begin avoiding activities altogether because of pain and fatigue. This begins a cycle of deconditioning that not only impacts the person's overall health, but also makes the symptoms of fibromyalgia worse. The cause of fibromyalgia is currently unknown and there is no cure, so physical therapy treatments are designed to reduce and manage the symptoms.

At Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy, our goal is to help you keep your pain under control so that you can enjoy your normal activities and lifestyle. Recent studies show that about 25 percent of patients treated for fibromyalgia were in remission at the end of two years. Many others have reduced their pain to tolerable levels.

So you might be asking yourself this question:

What does fibromyalgia feel like?

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are long lasting and intense. However, they can vary from day to day. Symptoms include:

  • pain and stiffness throughout the body, with especially tender points near certain joints
  • a feeling of exhaustion that sleep often does not help
  • sleep problems
  • tension headaches
  • numbness or tingling in the arms, hands and/or feet
  • a feeling of swelling in the hands, although this is not confirmed in physical exams
  • constipation and diarrhea along with abdominal pain (known as irritable bowel syndrome)
  • intense PMS pains in women
  • depression
  • interrupted sleep or awakening still feeling tired
  • tiredness
  • morning stiffness
  • swelling sensation
  • bothered by light, odors, and/or noise
  • poor concentration and memory loss
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • changes in vision
  • sore glands

Fibromyalgia - What to Do When the Fibro Ignites

Common treatments include:


The first step in treating fibromyalgia is often helping people understand what's going on, and what they can do about it. Research has shown that people who are knowledgeable about their condition have better outcomes, more confidence, and cope better.  Our Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists can develop a program to help manage pain and exhaustion. 


Physical therapists are movement experts with a lot of tools and techniques to help with the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. At Barkman and Smith Physical Therapy we able the ablility to use gentle manual therapy or prescribe specific stretches, or a simple yoga routine.

You must be willing to make lifestyle changes as well as give attention to your psychological health to help control the symptoms as well. Other treatments or lifestyle changes we may recommend include:

  • biofeedback
  • meditation
  • acupuncture
  • pain medication
  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • cortisone injected into painful points
  • ultrasound treatments
  • massage
  • heat for temporary pain relief
  • counseling to help deal with the symptoms


Once patients understand the condition and are able to move a little better with less pain, exercise often enters the treatment picture. Research has shown that low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise like walking, biking, or swimming is important in managing fibromyalgia symptoms. It can help with pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, and more. Our providers and patients work together to find the right type of exercise and the right intensity to best manage fibromyalgia. They often have to start slow, and make adjustments along the way. Talk to your physical therapist here at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy about when to start. 

Again, each physical therapy session is tailored to the needs of the patient and will vary depending on the severity of their symptoms. Despite there still being no cure for fibromyalgia, physical therapists can help with pain management, strength, mobility, fatigue and function to help patients find relief from their symptoms.

If you experience some fibromalgia pain, it is possible to find relief. Physical/Occupational therapy can help. Contact us at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy in Bedford, Alliance, and we’ll help!

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  1. Research (peer-reviewed)
    1. Exercises for Fibro -
    2. Manual therapy for fibro - ​​
    3. Aquatic PT for fibro -
    4. Effectiveness of exercise with fatigue, etc for fibro -
    5. Aerobic exercise for fibro -
  2. Articles and Content
    3. Physical Therapists are poised to treat and manage Pain (AOPT)

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