Does A Hot Tub Help Fibromyalgia?
- May, 2020
- 3 min.
- By: Eric Cruz
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is often described as an invisible illness; though unseen by others, this illness can make a person’s life very difficult. It causes the sufferer to experience constant musculoskeletal pain within muscles and bones throughout the body. This pain most often feels like a constant dull aching sensation. The unrelenting nature of the pain causes sleep disturbances in addition to chronic fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Other symptoms can include headaches, lower stomach pain, and bladder problems such as spasms and frequent urination.
Another symptom of fibromyalgia is brain fog, commonly referred to as “fibro fog,” which causes sufferers to experience difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue, and even memory lapses. Brain fog can make it difficult to hold a conversation or remember new information. It can also cause a person to lose things, forgetting where they put items shortly after setting them down.
These issues are caused by an abnormality in the brain, specifically in the dorsal root ganglion, which is responsible for sending sensory information to the spinal cord. When someone has fibromyalgia, the brain is misinterpreting non-painful sensory signals as painful or overreacting to normal pain signals. This problem is often exacerbated by the comorbidity of another illness or an illness that exists alongside fibromyalgia. These illnesses can include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chronic migraines, interstitial cystitis, and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder(TMJ). A person may notice fibromyalgia symptoms appear following a psychological trauma, severe stress, or after they have sustained an injury.
Fortunately, many people who experience fibromyalgia find that there are ways to ease the pain. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers may help decrease inflammation, muscle pain and improve sleep quality. A medical care provider may also prescribe a prescription pain reliever, but this will only be determined on an individual basis.
Treatments for Fibromyalgia Pain
Exercise is another significant factor in chronic pain relief. While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you are in pain, it helps by increasing the range of motion of the muscles, making them feel less stiff and improving the level of pain experienced. It also elevates mood and decreases stress, which is one cause of pain. Swimming, bicycling, and walking are preferred options for people with fibromyalgia because these exercises don’t put much stress on the muscles and joints. Whichever activity a person chooses, they must start slow, increase exercise gradually, and listen to their body to ensure they don’t overdo it.
One of the best exercises to ease fibromyalgia pain is yoga. Yoga is a gentle yet effective exercise. Attending a yoga class will improve one’s muscle strength and tone while learning meditation and relaxation techniques. An instructor can also demonstrate ways to adjust the poses to an individuals’ ability if the poses are too challenging.
Acupuncture, or acupressure for those who don’t like needles, has been found through a study in the Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine to relieve pain experienced by people living with fibromyalgia for at least two years.
Physical therapy has also proven an effective treatment. A physical therapist will create a treatment plan for a specific patient’s needs to strengthen muscles, increase range of motion, and reduce fibromyalgia pain. A therapist can also teach techniques to help manage pain and fatigue, which has been shown by research to increase performance during exercise.
Warm water immersion has been proven to decrease the level and frequency of pain experienced from fibromyalgia. Soaking in a hot tub once a day, along with stretching, has helped many people manage the pain caused by this condition.
How Hot Tubs Help Fibromyalgia Pain
The first major benefit of soaking in a hot tub is the relaxation it causes. The warm water and massaging effects help relax muscles, making it easier to fall asleep. Since individuals with fibromyalgia experience sleep disturbances due to their condition, it is essential to find a habit that helps them get a full and restful night’s sleep every day. The warm water also causes the body temperature to rise while soaking, and then falls a bit once the person gets out of the hot tub. This effect mimics the body’s natural temperature fluctuation during rest, which relaxes the body for sleep. Ensuring restful sleep helps alleviate brain fog, depression, anxiety, and any other psychological problems the sufferer may be experiencing.
The primary use and purpose of hot tubs is for their relaxing effects. They are made to ease muscular tension, stiffness and improve blood flow. The buoyancy caused by sitting in the water effectively decreases joint pain because it relieves the pressure of your body weight on the joints. All these factors combined significantly help muscles to relax and alleviate pain.
Stress is a major contributing factor to the level of pain that sufferers of fibromyalgia experience. When a person is stressed, their feelings of depression, anxiety, and ability to cope with their symptoms will increase. Headaches, gastrointestinal issues, bladder problems, and pelvic pain will also grow in severity. Soaking in a hot tub for a short time every day allows a person to set aside time to relax, forget about life pressures, and focus on feeling better. Having time for self-care every day is crucial to one’s psychological well-being. Prioritizing this time will lead to a decrease in mental health symptoms, which will help ease fibromyalgia pain. Practicing the habit of soaking in a hot tub also prevents stress from building up over time.
In conclusion, having a chronic pain condition, such as fibromyalgia, can feel like a hopeless situation. There is no cure for this disease, but there are options to manage and significantly improve its symptoms. Soaking in a hot tub for 20 minutes every day, around an hour before bedtime, will decrease pain in conjunction with other pain management methods. It alleviates psychological and physical disorders, improves sleep, reduces brain fog, and overall increases quality of life.
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