Not much is known about fibromyalgia – only that it causes individuals to experience widespread pain. Living in pain can lead to fatigue, which can make performing even the simplest of tasks a challenge. Many patients may experience pain and weakness in the neck muscles, which are involved in breathing. This can have patients feeling more fatigued. By treating this pain and weakness, patients may not become as tired as quickly.
The latest research findings suggest that physical therapy targeting the fascia – connective tissue beneath the skin that separates muscles from organs – may help reduce pain in fibromyalgia.
One type of therapy is known as muscle energy technique (MET), which is a manual therapy where the patients engage in different muscle contractions.
Researchers took a closer look at the effectiveness of MET on improving neck weakness and pain along with improving breathing. The study included 37 fibromyalgia patients, all who experienced back and neck pain.
Throughout three weeks, participants underwent three sessions a week on the cervical muscles after heat was applied. Patients were assessed for respiratory muscle strength, respiratory muscle endurance, pain and fatigue severity, flexibility, and disability prior and post-treatment.
Following MET, patients experienced improvements in expiratory muscle strength and respiratory muscle endurance. There was also improvement in neck flexibility and a reduction in pain, fatigue, and disability.
The researchers concluded, “Considering the increase in respiratory muscle strength and endurance, it is also believed that respiratory functions might increase. For this reason, it is recommended to study the effect of MET – applied to accessory respiratory muscles – on respiratory functions in future studies.”