Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by extreme muscle pain, general fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Researchers believe fibromyalgia amplifies pain sensations and affects your spinal cord and brain function. Even for healthcare professionals, this condition is hard to understand, and there is no exact way to diagnose or treat it. For this reason, fibromyalgia is subject to constant misdiagnosis.

Although there isn’t a known cure for fibromyalgia, your doctor can recommend various ways to ease the symptoms, including medications for pain and muscle relaxation, psychotherapy, and physical therapy. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we understand the pain and discomfort caused by fibromyalgia. Our skilled physical therapists will help relieve your symptoms and teach you to regain control of your body and mind with minimal medication. We serve clients seeking physical therapy services in Las Vegas, NV.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is an umbrella term that describes various symptoms, including fatigue, severe muscle pain, numbness, and mood fluctuations. There is no exact diagnosis or treatment for this condition. However, expert medical researchers believe that fibromyalgia is caused by an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which is the part of your body that responds to a flight response. 

This theory is sensible since most symptoms of this condition begin when a person experiences an emotionally or physically traumatic event. Fibromyalgia is known to occur more in women than in men. Your risk of developing the disease increases if you have a family member battling it.

When you report your symptoms to a doctor, fibromyalgia is not immediately apparent. This is because the symptoms of this condition are similar to many other autoimmune disorders. Knowing the type, intervals, and location of your symptoms may help the doctor determine whether or not you have fibromyalgia. While no specific diagnostic tests exist, the doctor can recommend various tests to rule out related conditions.

Many researchers have concluded that repeated nerve stimulation causes a change in the brain and spinal cord functionality of individuals with fibromyalgia. The change involves increased chemical levels, which affect the pain signal. Additionally, your body fails to shake off the pain, causing your body to react to non-painful signals. Some of the factors that cause these changes include:

  • Some genetic mutations make you more susceptible to developing fibromyalgia. Therefore, your chances of developing the condition are higher if you have a family member with this disorder.
  • Emotionally and physically stressful situations such as childbirth, surgery, injury, or the death of a loved one could trigger hormonal imbalances in the body and trigger this disorder.
  • Associated conditions. Conditions like osteoarthritis, temporomandibular disorder, and lupus could increase a person’s risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are common in many conditions. Therefore, diagnosis cannot be made solely on these symptoms. Common signs that individuals with fibromyalgia experience include:

  • Chronic pain. Pain is a constant symptom of fibromyalgia. The pain from this condition begins in the muscles, and there are no signs of tissue damage. Individuals with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to normal pain. You could also experience discomfort throughout your body. Fibromyalgia pain lasts for up to three months at a time and ranges from mild to severe.
  • Fibro fog. Fibro fog is a cognitive disorder characterized by confusion, difficulty concentrating, and short-term memory. Often, fibro fog is caused by the inability to deal with lack of sleep and pain from fibromyalgia.
  • Fatigue and sleeplessness. When you experience dull pain and discomfort throughout your body, falling asleep and remaining asleep through the night is challenging. Individuals with fibromyalgia are likely to experience various disorders like sleep apnea. Even when you can sleep, you may not have enough rest with this condition.
  • Restless legs. Pain from fibromyalgia is not the only thing that causes sleep deprivation. Many people with this condition experience a creeping feeling in their legs during the night. This feeling is very uncomfortable.
  • Migraine attacks. A survey conducted in 2015 revealed that up to 55% of individuals with fibromyalgia experience constant migraines. A migraine attack is characterized by head throbs, sensitivity to light, and head pain.

Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

There is no exact test for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This is because the symptoms associated with this condition may be similar to the ones for:

  • Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid glands fail to produce enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs.
  • Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a severe condition when bacteria pass black-legged ticks to the human body.

Previously, doctors used the tender points in your body to diagnose fibromyalgia. Tender points are areas of the body where you could experience severe pain from this condition, and they include:

  • The back of your head
  • Outer elbows
  • The outer hips
  • Upper chest
  • Neck and shoulders.

Doctors would diagnose fibromyalgia based on how a patient reacted to applying pressure to the tender points. However, doctors no longer use this technique. Instead, the American College of Rheumatology established a criterion for diagnosing this condition. This criterion has three main steps, which include:

  • Assessment of symptoms for over one week, levels of fatigue, and cognitive problems.
  • Symptoms have been recurrent for up to three months.
  • Lack of other conditions that could justify the symptoms. Although there are no tests for fibromyalgia, the doctor could perform blood tests to rule out other conditions.

Fibromyalgia Treatment

Treatment for fibromyalgia includes both self-care practices and medication. The treatment aims to minimize the impact of the symptoms and improve your quality of life. There is no specific treatment that eases all the symptoms. Therefore, the doctor will assess your symptoms and recommend the one that suits them. Standard fibromyalgia treatment options include:


Common choices of drugs that help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms are:

  • Pain relievers. Your doctor can prescribe pain relievers or ask you to purchase common pain-relieving medications, including paracetamol. However, these drugs are not for everyone. If you experience severe pain, your doctor can prescribe stronger medication like tramadol or codeine.
  • Taking antidepressants increases the production of hormones and chemicals that carry messages to the brain and reduces pain. There are many types of antidepressants, and the best choice for you depends on the severity of your symptoms. You must understand that antidepressants are associated with unpleasant side effects like constipation, extreme weight gain, drowsiness, and dizziness.
  • Muscle relaxants. Your doctor recommends muscle relaxants like diazepam if you report muscle stiffness and spasms due to fibromyalgia.
  • Sleep medications. One of the most disturbing symptoms of fibromyalgia is a lack of sleep. The doctor can help improve your sleeping abilities by prescribing some sleeping pills. Sleep medications can be addictive. Therefore, you should only take it according to the doctor’s instructions.
  • Anti-seizure medications. Medications designed to treat epilepsy help relieve the pain from fibromyalgia.

Many patients who receive prescriptions for fibromyalgia medication have complained of skin itching. The exact cause of itching from fibromyalgia medication is not known. You can relieve the itching in the following ways:

  • Stay hydrated. Taking plenty of water is essential in maintaining a mild reaction to the medication. Therefore, if the drugs are the leading cause of itching, it can be reduced when you hydrate.
  • Limiting the time you spend in hot showers reduces your home's temperature.
  • Apply fragrance-free lotion.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a treatment option that focuses on healing and preventing injuries. Often, the symptoms of fibromyalgia begin with trauma or an injury. Regular physical therapy could help you regain control of your body as you concentrate on lifestyle changes. A physical therapist has the training to:

  • Conduct physical exams to evaluate your muscle flexibility, motion, and performance.
  • Offer a diagnosis and a care plan with short and long-term goals.
  • Employ different physical therapy interventions.
  • Give recommendations on self-management exercises.

Although there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, physical manipulations help to ease pain, fatigue, and stiffness. Physical therapists can use different strategies to ease the symptoms, including deep muscle massage and muscle movements. In addition to physical manipulation, the doctor could use:

  • This technique uses electrical current to deliver steroids to your muscles and reduce inflammation.
  • Electrical stimulations. Your therapist can use transcutaneous nerve stimulation or neuromuscular electrical stimulation to improve muscle engagement.
  • Cold and heat therapy. These compresses provide relaxation for the muscles and reduce stiffness.
  • Light therapy. Shining special lasers on the problem area can help to treat muscle pain and stiffness.

The benefit you accrue from physical therapy as a treatment option for fibromyalgia is that this treatment allows you to work with a trained professional who can design a symptom-specific treatment for you. Additionally, you can manage your symptoms without needing medication or surgery.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a branch of healthcare that helps individuals with physical, sensory, and cognitive problems. There is a significant difference between physical and occupational therapy. Physical therapy helps manage pain, endurance, and motor skills affected by fibromyalgia. Occupational therapy, on the other hand, is effective for cognitive issues.

Home Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Along with medications and therapy, you can explore the following home remedies to manage fibromyalgia symptoms:

  • Combining low-impact exercises with resistance training could ease the tenderness, pain, and stiffness associated with this condition. If the exercises help both the symptoms, it would be best to maintain consistency for effective results.
  • Attending psychotherapy sessions could help patients cope with the pain of fibromyalgia. Behavior modification therapy is aimed at stress reduction and improvement of positive behavior. Your therapist will help you learn to cope with the condition and relax more. For some people, meditation helps alleviate pain and stress.
  • Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine aimed at addressing the root cause of your problems. Acupuncture therapy helps reduce pain and other unpleasant symptoms of fibromyalgia. The number of acupuncture sessions you attend depends on the severity of your symptoms.
  • Diet change. Your diet plan is a critical part of your fibromyalgia treatment. Consumption of high energy and low sugar foods could help keep your energy levels high. Additionally, you can eliminate foods that contain gluten from your diet. Studies have shown that gluten increases the seriousness of fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • Effective sleep hygiene. Going to bed and waking up simultaneously each day can help you develop a regular sleep pattern. Additionally, your doctor may recommend avoiding caffeine close to bedtime.

Complications Associated with Fibromyalgia

Various complications accompany fibromyalgia, including:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)

IBS is a common disorder affecting your large intestine. The condition is characterized by severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and changes in bowel movement. Individuals who have fibromyalgia are likely to report these symptoms. The following factors play a role in the development of IBS:

  • Intestinal muscle contractions. Intestinal walls are layered with muscles that contract as food moves through the digestive system. Abnormal intestinal contractions can cause diarrhea and pain.
  • Nervous system. Abnormality in the digestive system nerves can cause more than intestinal discomfort.
  • Serious infection. Excessive bacteria in your intestines can cause severe infections.

Like fibromyalgia, IBS is known to reduce the quality of your life and cause extreme pain and mood disorders.


Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, anger, and loss. Studies have shown that individuals with fibromyalgia have three times the likelihood of developing depression. Learning the link between fibromyalgia and depression can help you to be specific when seeking treatment. The following symptoms characterize depression:

  • Extreme weight gain or loss
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Low energy

The stress of fibromyalgia causes social isolation and anxiety. Less activity means fewer interactions with other people. This causes you to experience withdrawal symptoms that can end in depression.


Endometriosis is a disorder involving tissue growth similar to the uterine lining out of the uterus. Often, this tissue will grow on your ovaries or other parts of the pelvic region. The hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle can cause misplacement of the endometrial tissue. Tissue trapped in the pelvis could cause:

  • Scar formation
  • Fertility problems
  • Irritation
  • Painful menstrual cramps

Researchers suggest that endometriosis could cause fibromyalgia through a process known as central sensitization.


Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes joint inflammation and the gradual breakdown of joint cartilage. OA is characterized by pain and stiffness of the joints, swelling, and difficulty in moving the affected area. Cartilage is a substance that cushions the needs of bone joints, allowing them to move smoothly. In individuals with osteoarthritis, the smooth surfaces around the bone turn rough and grind against each other, causing damage.

Osteoarthritis affects the knees, hips, and shoulder joints. In addition to trauma and normal body wear and tear, osteoarthritis may result from genetic factors. Medical experts believe that the pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia. This is because the pain causes the neurons in the body to become more sensitive.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes your immune system to attack and damage the cartilage in the joints. The condition may begin with mild symptoms like tenderness and swelling of the joints. When left untreated, the situation could worsen and cause more severe symptoms such as joint stiffness, extreme pain, and fever.

The exact link between rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia is unknown. However, many women with RA are also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Additionally, genetic disorders play a significant role in developing both conditions. If you have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, treatment of one condition cannot improve your symptoms.

Sleep Deprivation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults sleep at least seven hours. However, the right amount of sleep varies from person to person. Sleep interruptions are a nuisance and can affect your mood and productivity throughout the day. Fibromyalgia symptoms could cause you to lose sleep or lack enough rest.

Sleep deprivation can affect your health, including fertility, your immune system, and hormones that control your weight. Treatment for fibromyalgia includes medications that help your muscles relax and enable you to sleep better through the night. 

Find a Skilled Physical Therapist Near Me

Fibromyalgia is one of the most frustrating diseases because it is hard to diagnose and treat. Many medical professionals overlook this condition while you deal with the pain and try to figure out the cause of your symptoms that affect many aspects of your life. You may have fibromyalgia if you are experiencing chronic pain accompanied by extreme fatigue and a change in sleeping patterns. The doctor can determine if you have this condition by assessing your symptoms and performing tests to rule out other related conditions.

Although fibromyalgia has no treatment, there are various ways through which you can ease the symptoms, including medications and physical therapy. The use of physical therapy to relieve your pain and discomfort is beneficial because your physical therapist designs treatment approaches based on the severity of your symptoms. Additionally, you can avoid excessive medication use while adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Finding the right physical therapist involves different factors, including specialty, location, and insurance acceptance. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we offer top-notch physical therapy services for all our clients seeking fibromyalgia treatment in Las Vegas, NV. Contact us at 702-368-6778.