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Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Symptoms
At some point in our lives, we have all experienced pain, and because it is an unpleasant experience, it tends to have a bad connotation. Understandably, people don’t want to have to endure pain; the reality is that when our body is utilizing its ability to feel pain the appropriate way, it is an essential tool. It is when this tool malfunctions that we tend to develop problems. One scenario where our body utilizes pain inappropriately is a disorder referred to as fibromyalgia.
Mayo Clinic defines fibromyalgia as “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. The current belief is fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by altering the way your brain processes the signals.” Typically, our nervous systems are very good at determining which inputs are to be perceived as pain as well as creating a proportionate response. Conversely, in patients with fibromyalgia, their nervous system becomes hypersensitive to inputs. Hypersensitivity to inputs results in increased difficulty in creating proportionate pain responses and, in some cases, even creates pain responses to inputs that would previously have not been interpreted as painful.
Along with this abnormal pain response and generalized hypersensitivity, many people may also experience:
If left unaddressed, persons with fibromyalgia suffer in a constant state of hypersensitivity. This continued state of fight or flight is not only unpleasant but also prevents the body from having the opportunity to heal.
Physical Therapy can help keep those with fibromyalgia active, improve/maintain function, and decrease stiffness and pain. It is recommended that adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. With fibromyalgia, exercise may need to be broken up into shorter 10–15-minute sessions throughout the day. This way, physical activity doesn’t increase pain. Also, increments of exercise throughout the day may help to keep the body moving and reduce stiffness. It has been shown that low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, and cycling are good for those with fibromyalgia. Also, Tai-chi has shown effectiveness in increasing mobility through slow, deliberate movements that coordinate with breathing.
Physical Therapy can also work on functional activities that may become more difficult to perform with fibromyalgia. A physical therapist can assess and develop individual treatment programs to help with the specific movements or activities that are more difficult. If you are having trouble standing to cook/prepare meals, opening jars/containers, or finding it more challenging to get in or out of the car, a physical therapist can help. Learning different strategies, alternative methods, or improving strength or range of motion are all within the physical therapist’s scope of practice.
Physical Therapy also offers the ability to include hands-on manual therapy techniques that can help to reduce muscle tension, muscle strain, and stiff joints. Gentle mobilization of the tissue to induce relaxation, but not pain is key for those with fibromyalgia.
In addition to a hands-on physical therapy approach including manual therapy to help reduce muscle tightness and pain, and exercises to improve strength and mobility, modalities can be used to enhance healing and reduce pain and stiffness. At Freedom Physical Therapy Services, the state-of-the-art class IV therapeutic laser treatment is an additional modality that has been used along with those listed above. It has been especially beneficial to those suffering from conditions like fibromyalgia.
Don't be afraid to reach out for help - it could be the best decision you make. You deserve to find relief from your worries, and a therapist can help you do just that.
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