Patient Resource Center

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and body stiffness. You may also feel tired all the time. This health problem is most common in women under age 50. Right now, fibromyalgia cannot be diagnosed with a lab test. Instead, your doctor will ask about your health history. He or she may also examine your joints and muscles. In most cases, your body will be checked for tender points that are linked with this health problem.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Along with the tender points, you may have some or all of the following symptoms:
  • A burning or throbbing pain in many parts of the body (the pain may vary during the day)

  • Stiffness or aching all over your body

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Constant tiredness, even after a full night's sleep

  • Headaches

  • Bowel problems


What Can You Do?

Fibromyalgia can be an ongoing problem. But it doesn't have to keep you from doing the things you enjoy. You can take steps to feel better. Start by following a treatment plan that includes exercise and good sleep habits. It also helps to avoid triggers that can set off your symptoms.


Make Exercise a Part of Your Life

Gentle exercise can help lessen your pain.

Keep the following in mind when you work out:

  • Always stretch your muscles before and after you exercise

  • Choose low-impact sports, such as fast walking, biking, swimming or other water exercises

  • Don't push yourself too hard at first–slowly build up your endurance over time

  • Stick to it. For best results, exercise should become part of your normal life


Get a Good Night's Rest

The better you sleep, the more energy you'll have.

To get a good night's rest, try these tips:

  • Sleep only in a bed

  • Don't watch TV, read or work in bed

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning

  • Don't nap during the day

  • Cut down on fluids during the evening

  • Avoid exercise, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco for at least three hours before going to bed


Other Things You Can Do

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia. But certain things, such as stress, can trigger symptoms or make them worse.

The following tips may help you feel better:

  • Learn ways to reduce or manage the stress in your life

  • Maintain your health–eating a balanced diet and watching your weight

Fibromyalgia is frustrating and sometimes limiting. But it is not life threatening. It doesn't lead to arthritis. And, it rarely gets worse over time. In fact, this health problem can often be controlled. Exercise, good sleep habits, medication and support all help you feel better.


Trigger Point Injections

What is a Trigger Point?

A trigger point is a tight, painful "knot" of muscle fiber. It can form where a muscle is strained or injured. The knot can sometimes be felt under the skin. A trigger point is very tender to the touch. Pain may also spread to other parts of the affected muscle. Muscles around a knee, shoulder blade or other bones are prone to trigger points. This is because these muscles are more likely to be injured.


Easing Trigger Point Pain

The cause of your muscle pain or spasms may be one or more trigger points. Your doctor may decide to inject the painful spots to relax the muscle. This can help relieve your pain. Relaxing the muscle can also make movement easier. You may then be able to exercise to strengthen the muscle and help it heal.


About Injections

Any muscle in the body can have one or more trigger points. Several injections may be needed in each trigger point to best relieve pain. These injections may be given in sessions one to two weeks apart. In some cases, you may not feel much change in your symptoms until after the third injection.


The Injection Experience

Most trigger point injections are done in your doctor's office. You will sit in a chair or lie on an exam table so your doctor can reach the affected muscle.

Your doctor will feel and stretch the muscle to find the exact spot of the trigger point.

Once the trigger point is found, it is injected. The injection may contain medication, such as a local anesthetic (which numbs the area).

If you have other trigger points, the process may be repeated.

Ask your doctor about possible risks and complications before having an injection. 


Back to Activity

Be active to help your muscles heal. Your doctor may suggest exercises. Be sure to do them as often as you are told. Your doctor may also prescribe physical therapy. Stretch and strengthen your muscles and practice good posture. This helps keep muscle pain or spasms from coming back.

Back to top