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Juvenile Fibromyalgia: Identifying and Managing Fibromyalgia in Children

What is Juvenile Fibromyalgia?

Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome (JPFS) is part of a group of conditions collectively known as Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome. Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or JPFS, is a condition that results in symptoms of overall musculoskeletal and joint pain and fatigue. Data is sparse in the area of prevalence, but it is thought that up to 7% of children under 18 have JPFS or similar condition. It is more common in females and the diagnosis in children usually occurs between the ages of 13 and 15.

Along with joint pain and fatigue, other symptoms include disturbed sleep, morning stiffness, headaches, abdominal pain, irritable bowel, tight muscles and periods of swelling. Depression and anxiety are often present. JPFS is frequently triggered by an injury, illness or stress. Many patients with JPFS also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

How Is Juvenile Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

Diagnosing JPFS starts with a medical exam which includes a family history, physical exam and a tender point test of all 18 sites. Diagnostic tests should be conducted to rule out all rheumatic diseases and arthritis. To meet diagnostic criteria there must be patient report of pain in three or more body areas over a minimum of three months. In addition, at least five painful tender points must be experienced upon palpation during the exam. Additional symptoms such as difficulty with sleep, irritable bowels, fatigue and headache are often present and these symptoms tend to worsen with stress and/or anxiety.

JPFS can have severe effects on a child’s physical and emotional functioning. School attendance, socialization, and general quality of life are all impacted by this condition.

Managing Juvenile Fibromyalgia Holistically

JPFS is incurable but its symptoms can be controlled by understanding and preventing triggers, maintaining a focus on physical and psychosocial wellness,  and effective management of pain symptoms. As with the treatment of any minor, family involvement is a critical part of the treatment plan.

A traditional therapeutic treatment approach involves a team. This team consists of a combination of collaborating professionals to include at minimum: a pediatric  rheumatologist, physical therapist, and psychologist along with the identified patient and his or her family. The traditional treatment course utilizes a combination of medication, exercise, physical therapy and a form of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

A holistic treatment approach is meant to be “in addition to,” not necessarily “instead of a” traditional treatment approach. In general, holistic treatments focus on addressing all aspects of an individual, not just the physical. The overarching philosophy is to live a more balanced lifestyle and understand that physical illnesses are the symptoms of a greater imbalance that may or may not have a root cause in the physical. Holistic treatment of JPFS may include the traditional therapies discussed above in concert with non-traditional medicine.

Recently published studies suggest that the use of Yoga, Tai Chi, and/or Acupuncture may reduce pain, fatigue and stiffness and improve quality of life in patients with Fibromyalgia. Many living with Fibromyalgia manage their diet and nutrition to alleviate symptoms and also utilize therapeutic massage to ease muscle soreness. However, there has not been enough scientific evidence supporting the use of vitamins, nutrition or massage to date.

Many alternative treatments can assist with pain management in Fibromyalgia.  Though patients report positive outcomes in using these alternative treatments, scientific support has not been substantially rigorous enough to make any hard effectiveness claims. Nonetheless, so many are searching for holistic treatments and will consider these minimally-invasive treatments to avoid medication side-effects and to adopt a balanced approach to health and wellness.

The following alternative treatments have been used in the treatment of Fibromyalgia:

No child need be robbed of a full life following a diagnosis of JPFS. Incorporating a holistic approach to the treatment of JPFS most often includes the traditional route of coping strategies, physical exercise, physical therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and perhaps medication with any of the alternative treatments that help reduce or alleviate the associated symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

By Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Resources

  • fibromyalgia-treatment.com
  • Treating Juvenile Fibromyalgia by Jennifer Cerbasi, (2012) FoxNews.com
  • webmd.com – Fibromyalgia Guide
  • KidsHealth.org – Fibromyalgia.

 

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

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3 Chronic Conditions Treated with Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy can be characterized simply by using hot and cold water, water pressure, and steam to stimulate relief from any number of conditions or ailments. It has been utilized in many treatment care plans with extremely positive results. 3 chronic conditions that can be treated successfully are migraines, osteoarthritis, and Fibromyalgia.

Migraines can easily be treated with simple hydrotherapeutic techniques at home with hot and cold water. Simply using a hot water foot bath and cold compress collectively can greatly reduce the symptoms of a migraine. Cold compress has been used for ages to help with the pain that migraine sufferer’s experience. Also, hot baths have been known to subdue nausea and tension which are also symptoms commonly associated with migraines.

Osteoarthritis utilizes hydrotherapy in a different way than its use in migraine treatment. The predominant use of hydrotherapy for Osteoarthritis is through water exercise and aerobics. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder that attacks the joints and causes major pain, stiffness, and discomfort. By incorporating exercise with the buoyancy of water, it creates a physical environment that is comparable to weightlessness. This lack of weight helps those with Osteoarthritis increase their range of motion in the joints while maintaining movement and strengthening.

Fibromyalgia is treated with hydrotherapy in a much more medicinal and scientific approach. New research suggests that including a hydrotherapeutic technique of colon cleansing can significantly reduce the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. The theory is that as the cleanse removes toxins, waste, and allergens, it increases the function of the immune system and decreases inflammation in the body. Increasing the immune system allows those with the disease to stay healthy and strong to better fight off infections which can be triggers for Fibromyalgia. Decreasing inflammation is thought to help keep the overall feelings of pain and fatigue at bay for most sufferers.

Hydrotherapy is a versatile and attainable therapy to treat many conditions and ailments. From a simple cold compress to a medical procedure designed to balance the body chemistry, Hydrotherapy can be utilized by anyone with just a bit of know-how or experienced professional with incredible results.

More Information on Hydrotherapy

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Hydrotherapy for Migraine and Tension Headaches

Migraine headaches can begin from a variety of sources. Some of these can include stress, lack of sleep, loud music, smells, and even certain lighting play a role in bringing on migraines. One the most complained sources of migraines come from tension – the most common form or headache aside from migraines. Treating tension headaches and ultimately migraines can be done easily at home with some basic hydrotherapy techniques and can stop the discomfort from both in its tracks.

Starting with a major source of migraines, the tension headache can easily be relieved at home with hydrotherapy with a few simple steps. Starting with two bowls of water – one with ice water and one with hot tap water that doesn’t exceed 110° for safety – and soak one towel in each. Begin with the hot towel and place it on the back of the neck for up to 5 minutes. Follow it with the cold towel for another 5 minutes. Repeat this process up to 3 times for maximum relief.

For migraines, the process requires two bowls of water again – one with ice water and one with hot tap water that doesn’t exceed 110° for safety. This time, however, use the cold towel on the back of the neck while soaking the feet in the hot water for at least 20 minutes. If the migraine does not subside, reverse the application by using a hot towel on the back of the neck and soaking the feet in ice water for 20 minutes.

A remedy, as simple as 2 bowls of water and a couple of towels, could be the difference between debilitating headaches and finding natural relief with hydrotherapy.   Without a lot of know-how or equipment, hydrotherapy can be accomplished at home with incredibly successful results.

Reference:

  • vsnaturopathy.com/Headache.html
  • Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/6097482100/

Holistic Health Therapies for Migraines

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Controlling Fibromyalgia with Hydrotherapy and Massage

Hydrotherapy has long been known for its healing powers and therapeutic attributes when utilized as a treatment for chronic illness. One illness that is profoundly affected by adding hydrotherapy and massage is Fibromyalgia. Using the techniques of hydrotherapy bath and the incorporation of massage therapy can greatly reduce the common symptoms that are brought on with Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition most well-known for an overall feeling of pain and fatigue to the body. It is characterized by trigger points such as joints and muscle stiffness accompanied with physical and emotional fatigue. Utilizing hydrotherapy bath that has a warm temperature between 91° and 94° Fahrenheit can stimulate muscle and joint relaxation while improving circulation throughout the body. This consistent motion of circulation with relaxation will help with the mobilization of Fibromyalgia trigger points and decrease overall pain that is felt.

In conjunction with hydrotherapeutic bath, massage can add another level of comfort for those suffering from Fibromyalgia. Massage uses pressure on the muscles to stimulate blood flow and encourage relaxation. While this can help with the pain and discomfort often felt with Fibromyalgia, the real benefit to massage is the emotional release that it can provide to help alleviate the mental fatigue that the syndrome has on the body.

Fibromyalgia affects the body both physically and mentally from the constant battle with chronic pain and fatigue. Hydrotherapy and massage together can create an ongoing treatment that can help with muscle relaxation, joint stiffness, overall achiness, and circulation. The two therapies can also help to balance the emotional fatigue by encouraging the body and mind to relax and unwind to promote better management of the syndrome.

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Treatment

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to revitalize, augment and restore health. Hydrotherapy is a generic term for any type of therapy that involves the use of water to treat illness, manage pain, or relieve stress. Taking a shower or bath are the simplest forms of hydrotherapy and others would include sauna therapy, whirlpools, wraps, and foot baths.

How it Works 

By increasing the blood circulation in the body by using different temperatures it will stimulate the immune and nervous systems to assist in the healing of injured or tight muscles, energize the whole body and relax the mind. The temperatures utilized are important.

The alternation between hot and cold water will stimulate circulation, lessen pain, speed recovery time, and eliminate waste products from the body. Depending on what temperatures are utilized you could choose what outcome you experience. For instance, cold hydrotherapy is known to invigorate the senses and enhance the mind, while using hot hydrotherapy it is known to augment relaxation and encourage sleep.

Benefits

There are many benefits to each specific type of hydrotherapy, but in general one can expect to experience:

  • Relaxation of muscles (if using hot hydrotherapy)
  • Reduction of pain
  • With increased circulation will come the better elimination of wastes

Precautions

If you are pregnant it is advised not to take hot baths. If you have any heart condition it would be wise to check with your doctor prior to engaging in this healing modality. Please be mindful that hot hydrotherapy treatments can lower blood pressure and should be limited to no longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.

Summary

Hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to relax muscular tension, ease pain and enhance the elimination of wastes from the body. It is a relatively economical way to engage in a healing modality right in your own home for the cost of some water and any additives you may choose to use like Epsom salts, aromatherapy or bath teas, all of which enhance the hydrotherapy experience.

References

  • The Complete Book of Water Healing by Dian Buchman
  • Hydrotherapy: Simple Treatments for Common Ailments by Clarence Dail and Charles Thomas
  • Hydrotherapy for Health and Wellness: Theories, Programs and treatments by Richard Eidson