Next to osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia is the most common musculoskeletal disorder affecting one in every 50 Americans. It affects seven times more women than men and often occurs along with particular disorders such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Getting to Know Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is among the many commonly misdiagnosed disorders. One main reason of this is that fibromyalgia is a syndrome, meaning the symptoms it may produce are similar to other types of disease. A person who is diagnosed with fibromyalgia experiences widespread joint pain, generalized weakness and fatigue. Chronic experience of fibromyalgia can lead to anxiety and depression.
People who have fibromyalgia often described the pain as “crippling” and sometimes, “throbbing”. The pain is not only felt in the affected joints but also all over the body. Joints become tender and the person experiences fatigue all day long. Muscles are felt like being pulled or torn. Pain may also be felt in shoulder, back or hips. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include dryness of mucosa, hypersensitivity to extreme temperatures, numbness, stiffness and inability to concentrate.
Treatments available today that relieve symptoms include medications, exercises and behavioral techniques. Alternative and non-surgical treatments are also available for fibromyalgia, such as massage which helps relieve muscle pain; myofascial release therapy which softens stiffed muscles; and yoga to help relax muscles and relieve stress.
Study: Yoga Curb Fibromyalgia Symptoms
A 2010-study revealed that women with fibromyalgia experience significant improvements of symptoms after 8 weeks of attending Yoga of Awareness program. Following 2 months of series of meditation, breathing exercises and gentle poses, the subjects of the study were able to verbalize reduction in pain and fatigue. They also exhibited improved coping strategies (1).
The main advantage of yoga in treating fibromyalgia is pain management. Women who don’t get relief from taking prescribed drugs may want to try yoga. Yoga is a mild form of therapy for health disorders with joint problems. A minimum of 2 hours a week of yoga sessions can improve fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, stiffness and fatigue. While healthy exercise is strongly recommended, some patients find non-yoga exercises difficult to handle due to pain. Yoga is a gentle physical activity making it the most ideal exercise for people with fibromyalgia. Asanas, in particular, is the most recommended yoga exercise. Yoga Asanas include Apanasana (knees to chest) and Bhujangasana (cobra). Other best yoga poses for fibromyalgia include Downward Facing Dog, Side-Angle Pose, Triangle Pose and Reclined Hip Opener.
Individuals who cannot attend outdoor classes of yoga may consider buying instructional DVD so they can practice different yoga poses at home. Experts suggest to look for yoga sessions who observe low-impact poses and an experienced instructor who is expert in dealing with pain management.
(1) Carson, J et al (2010). A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia. Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Volume 151. Issue 2. Pages 530-539.
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