Fibromyalgia is a condition that has only recently gained clinical validity. It is often recognizable by its symptoms. It typically involved pain throughout the body but it presents challenges that extend beyond general pain management. Among these, breathing problems are a significant concern for many individuals with fibromyalgia. This post delves into the often-overlooked issue of fibromyalgia-related breathing difficulties and suggests practical breathing exercises as a potential remedy.
Fibromyalgia And Its Diverse Symptoms
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is not just about widespread pain; it encompasses a range of symptoms that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. Common symptoms include fatigue, cognitive disturbances, difficulty sleeping, and mood disorders (*). However, an aspect that is not as widely discussed is the respiratory problems associated with fibromyalgia. Questions like “can fibromyalgia cause shortness of breath?” often arise among individuals with FMS.
Fibromyalgia Breathing Problems
Individuals with fibromyalgia may experience various respiratory issues, such as shortness of breath and pain in the chest area (1). This pain can be exacerbated by the presence of tender points in the upper half of the body, which are common in fibromyalgia patients. These respiratory challenges can lead to decreased functionality in daily activities and contribute to the overall impact of fibromyalgia on life quality.
Clinical Study Insights: Breathing Exercises For Fibromyalgia
A pivotal study conducted by Pablo Tomas-Carus et al., published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, highlights the potential benefits of breathing exercises for individuals with fibromyalgia (2). This randomized controlled trial focused on 35 women with fibromyalgia, aged between 34 and 67 years. The participants were divided into two groups: an exercise group that performed specific breathing exercises for 30 minutes per session, seven times a week, for 12 weeks, and a control group.
The results were encouraging. After 12 weeks, the exercise group showed significant improvements in pain thresholds tolerance on tender points, particularly in the upper body areas. Moreover, enhancements were observed in functional capacity, pain management, and fatigue levels. This suggests that breathing exercises can be an effective intervention to consider in managing fibromyalgia, particularly for women.
Breathing Exercises: A Practical Approach
Based on these findings, incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine can be a valuable strategy if you are struggling with fibromyalgia and associated breathing difficulties. Here are some suggested exercises:
- Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing focuses on engaging the diaphragm, encouraging full oxygen exchange. Place your hand on your stomach when you breathe in and focus on filling your belly with air. Exhale slowly.
- Paced Breathing helps regulate breathing patterns and manage shortness of breath. The 4-7-8 method is often recommended for fibromyalgia. To do this exercise, breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat for a minimum of four cycles.
- Visualization Breathing combines deep breathing with visualization techniques to reduce stress and manage pain. To do this exercise, try to visualize your breath as it moves through your nostrils into your lungs and expands your chest. Then imagine the release of the air as well.
Fibromyalgia’s complexity necessitates a multifaceted approach to management, with breathing exercises now showing promise as a viable component of treatment. The study by Tomas-Carus et al. is a significant step forward in understanding and managing fibromyalgia breathing problems, offering hope and practical solutions to those affected. By integrating these exercises into their daily regimen, individuals with fibromyalgia can potentially improve their pain tolerance, daily functionality, and overall quality of life.