Fibromyalgia – Definition, Symptoms, & Treatments

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes tenderness, stiffness, and pain in joints, tendons, and muscles. It is also characterized by chronic fatigue, awakening feeling tired, depression, anxiety, disturbances in bowel function, and restless sleep. It is a non-life-threatening condition that doesn'’t cause injury, deformity, or damage to the internal organs of the body. The condition is sometimes referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome abbreviated as FMS.

Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women than in men. In addition, it is associated with other inflammatory disorders. For instance, about 17 percent of patients that suffer from arthritis also suffer from fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

While fibromyalgia is defined mainly by chronic and widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles, it also includes a wide variety of symptoms that include:

  • Morning stiffness
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot
  • Memory and cognitive problems (fibro fog)
  • Sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises
  • Tingling in fingers as well as extremities
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Headaches

Fibromyalgia Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is not very easy to treat and it is therefore important that the patient’s doctor has training in treating the condition. Fortunately, an increasing number of doctors including general practitioners understand how to treat the condition.

For the best results it is advisable that a patient is treated by a physical therapist, doctor, and possibly even some other health care professionals simultaneously. For good results, patient compliance is critical. Patient compliance refers to the patient being actively engaged and always remembers to follow instructions.

Each fibromyalgia patient is unique and requires personalized treatment. Treatment usually involves some or all of the following:

  • Osteopathy (or other hands on treatment therapy)
  • Massage
  • ​Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • ​Acupuncture
  • ​Low-dose anti-depressants
  • ​An active exercise program
  • Psychotherapy


Various studies have revealed that using medication for treating fibromyalgia helped between 33 percent and 50 percent of all patients. However, in some instances, the symptoms worsened.

One particular study revealed that taking a tricyclic antidepressant, 20mg of fluoxetine, 25mg of amitriptyline with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor all in combination was twice as effective as taking either one by itself.


Strength training (resistance training) combined with aerobic exercise have been linked to a significant improvement in sleep disturbance, tender point counts, and pain. Unfortunately, a large number of patients don’t keep up the exercises. Studies have revealed that working out with a personal trainer or partner also helps in keeping the program active.


Upon starting acupuncture therapy many patients have enjoyed remarkable improvements in their quality of life. The frequency of sessions totally depends on the individual. Currently, 1 in 5 fibromyalgia patients use acupuncture within 2 years of diagnosis.


In instances where the pain is severe and other therapies have been proven ineffective or cannot be used, oral painkillers or chronic opioid analgesic therapy may be an option. Ibuprofen and aspirin are general not that effective.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy entails learning new coping skills, self-hypnosis, and relaxation exercises. Patients have reported that with experience, pain perception, a complicated phenomenon can be altered.

Growth Hormone Therapy

One study has shown growth hormone therapy to be effective in reducing the symptoms of the condition without any serious side-effects. However, this form of treatment is very expensive.

Osteopathy for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is difficult to treat and manage. Accompanied by many symptoms that range from debilitating muscle pain to fatigue, fibromyalgia patients often have to search for a variety of symptoms before experiencing relief.

If you currently suffer from fibromyalgia it can be wise to find an osteopath to aid in treatment of your symptoms. Osteopaths offer unique and effective treatments with few associated side effects. They can help to relieve your pain effectively and quickly.

How Osteopaths Relieve Symptoms

Osteopathy practitioners use gentle manipulations to stimulate the natural healing abilities of the body help relieve nasty symptoms. Osteopaths view the body as being interconnected; the bones, muscles, nerves, and organs all connect to form a system, referred to as the musculoskeletal system. Osteopaths help to encourage overall treatment and healing by making adjustments in the musculoskeletal system.

Osteopaths engage in diagnosis and treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Osteopathic Manual Manipulation (OMM) is the primary method of practice they use. OMM helps in the removal of obstructions within the musculoskeletal system allowing the body to heal itself of illnesses and diseases. OMM involves the manual palpation of the tissues, bones, nerves, and muscles in the body.

Osteopaths can use OMM and other procedures to help ease many of the fibromyalgia symptoms particularly muscle pain, fatigue, as well as chronic headaches. They can also help to:

  • Relieve your muscle and joint pain
  • Improve your range of motion
  • Increase your flexibility
  • Help you to relax and feel better

Osteopaths are also quite helpful when it comes to the diagnosis of the fibromyalgia syndrome. Since they use hands-on treatment techniques, osteopaths can easily identify tender points in the body along with other signs of fibromyalgia.

What You Should Expect When You Go To An Osteopath For Treatment Of Fibromyalgia

During your first visit, you should expect the osteopath to take your complete medical history. This history includes details of previous illnesses along with the current psychological and physical symptoms. You should also expect the osteopath to conduct a physical examination focusing on the musculoskeletal system. You may have to lie down, sit down, walk across the room, or stand up while the osteopath assesses your posture, reflexes, and flexibility.

Treatment will most likely involve physical manipulation of some sort. You may have to lie down on the examination table while the osteopath palpates your back, arms, and legs. He or she may then stretch your muscles or rotate your limbs. While undergoing treatment, you may experience tingling sensations or feel deeply relaxed.


Fibromyalgia is a condition that has devastating symptoms and usually very hard to treat. However, the treatment options discussed in this article should be enough to give you relief. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, it can be a wise idea to include osteopathy as an adjunct to treat the painful symptoms of the condition.

Call today on 0771-024-4390 for more information on how osteopathy can help your fibromyalgia symptoms


Tom Harper has been actively involved in promoting pain relief treatment for over twenty years. He is the Registered Osteopath at the Nuneaton Osteopathic Clinic and has interests in sports injuries and headache and migraine treatment and is a keen cyclist and fell-walker.

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