Aquatic Physical Therapy

Aquatic Physical Therapy

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What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body. The disease is fairly common, affecting approximately 2 to 4 percent of the U.S. population, mostly middle-aged women.

Although its symptoms are similar to other joint diseases, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia is actually a form of soft tissue or muscular rheumatism that causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues.

What causes or triggers fibromyalgia?

Although the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers believe there may be a link with sleep disturbance, psychological stress, or immune, endocrine, or biochemical abnormalities. Fibromyalgia mainly affects the muscles and the points at which the muscles attach to the bone (at the ligaments and tendons).

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Pain is the most common and chronic symptom of fibromyalgia. Pain may begin in one area of the body, such as the neck and shoulders, but eventually the entire body may become affected. The pain ranges from mild to severe and may be described as burning, soreness, stiffness, aching, or gnawing pain. Fibromyalgia usually is associated with characteristic tender spots of pain in the muscles. The following are other common symptoms of fibromyalgia. However each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Moderate to severe fatigue

  • Decreased exercise endurance

  • Sleep problems at night

  • Depressed mood

  • Anxiety

  • Headaches

  • Irritable bowel symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, and constipation 

  • Restless legs

  • Painful menstrual periods

The symptoms of fibromyalgia may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

There are no laboratory tests that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Instead, diagnosis is usually based on reported symptoms and physical exam findings. The American College of Rheumatology has published diagnostic criteria that help your health care provider make the correct diagnosis. The criteria define fibromyalgia as widespread pain for more than three months and describe 18 tender points on the body. The criteria suggest that to confirm a diagnosis you must have at least 11 tender points on exam.

What is the treatment for fibromyalgia?

Specific treatment for fibromyalgia will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies

  • Expectation for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Although there's no cure for fibromyalgia, the disease can often be successfully managed with proper treatment, as fibromyalgia doesn't cause damage to tissues. Treatment may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (to relieve pain and improve sleep)

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta), pregabalin (Lyrica), and milnacipran (Savella), which are medications that are approved specifically for treating fibromyalgia

  • Antidepressants

  • Other painkillers

  • Exercise and physical therapy (to stretch muscles and improve cardiovascular fitness)

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Heat treatments

  • Occasional cold applications

  • Massage

Aquatic Physical Therapy is a specialized physical therapy practice using the buoyancy and support of water to enhance exercise and create a safe environment for a patient to work towards recovery and independence.

Aquatic physical therapy is available at Valley Health locations in Berkeley Springs, Romney and Winchester. The pools are accessible to all individuals with disabilities or injuries by using a lift chair or adaptive stairs. It is not necessary to know how to swim to participate in aquatic physical therapy.

Common conditions treated:
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back pain
  • Sacroiliac dysfunction
  • Rotator cuff
  • Paraplegia/Tetraplegia
  • General debilitation
  • Chronic pain syndrome
  • Neurological disorders
  • Lower extremity surgical reconstructions & amputations
Services Provided

On your first visit an examination and evaluation will be performed on land to determine the aquatic services that would best serve your needs. At that time a physical therapist will determine a diagnosis and plan of care based on your impairments and functional limitations. After your examination, you will be oriented to the rehabilitation pool.

Treatment sessions are generally one-to-one and designed to improve circulation, increase strength, endurance, balance and coordination; decrease tissue swelling and protect joints. The exercise program will be customized to fit your needs. Therapy sessions generally last from 45 minutes to one hour.

How to Get Started

If you think aquatic physical therapy can assist you in reaching your goals, ask your physician for a referral. Then call the convenient location for you to schedule an appointment. Aquatic physical therapy is covered under Medicare, and many insurance companies will reimburse the cost of this service.
Outpatient Rehabilitation and Fitness Services
261 Berkmore Place, Suite 2A
Berkeley Springs, WV

Outpatient Rehabilitation and Fitness Services
12 East Luray Shopping Center
Luray, VA

Hampshire Wellness & Fitness Center
1000 Heritage Circle
Romney, WV

Outpatient Rehabilitation Services
333 West Cork Street, Second Floor
Winchester, VA