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Fibromyalgia and Physical Therapy

(continued)

Why Does a Physical Therapist Use Hydrotherapy? continued...

Hydrotherapy works well for almost all types of pain, including fibromyalgia pain. Cold compresses may reduce the pain of an injury, such as a sprain or strain. Moist heat may give relief to fibromyalgia's chronic muscle pain or trigger point pain. You may use a moist heating pad, a warm, damp towel, or a hydrocollator pack. You can also stand or sit on a stool in the shower and let warm water hit the painful area on your body.

Your physical therapist may recommend that you use moist heat for a few minutes just before and after stretching or doing resistance or aerobic exercise. Doing so will make the exercise less painful and more effective. If you want to use moist heat to decrease fibromyalgia pain, you might try it twice daily, about 15 minutes each time. Some people with fibromyalgia prefer alternating the ice compresses with the moist heat to get the most benefit.

What Other Tools Does a Physical Therapist Use for Fibromyalgia?

The physical therapist may use different types of tools with fibromyalgia patients including:

  • deep tissue massage
  • low-impact aerobic conditioning (water aerobics)
  • pain relief exercise
  • stretching and strengthening exercises
  • TENS units (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  • ultrasound

 

How Can I Find a Licensed Physical Therapist?

In looking for a physical therapist, it is important to first check whether your health care plan covers visits. Many health insurance companies include physical therapists in their lists of providers. Next, look for a trained professional, someone who is licensed to practice in your state. It is also helpful to find a therapist who has experience in dealing with fibromyalgia. Your health professional may be able to suggest a physical therapist. Or talk to friends or family members that have had physical therapy.

Physical therapists can be found in many places, including:

  • doctor's offices
  • fitness facilities
  • home health agencies
  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • outpatient clinics
  • schools
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on April 17, 2012
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