Should People With Fibromyalgia Consider Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy

Image: U.S. Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower

One of the hardest parts of living with fibromyalgia is that the kinds of obligations everyone faces don’t go away when you’re suffering. Even when you’re struggling with constant pain and fatigue, you still have to find a way to deal with all of the things that others sometimes have a hard time dealing with even when they’re in good health.

So it’s no surprise that someone with fibromyalgia might need a little help from time to time. And there are people who can help with the physical symptoms of the condition. But what do you do when you need help living a normal life? Who do you turn to when you need help with managing daily activities or even a job?

Well, the good news is there is a field of medicine dedicated to just that: occupational therapy.

So what is occupational therapy? How can it help someone with fibromyalgia? And how do you find an occupational therapist to work with you?

What Is Occupational Therapy?

The roots of occupational therapy go back to the early 20th century. Where before, medicine was focused on just curing illness, the idea behind occupational therapy was to help people live productive lives when their illness couldn’t be cured.

Often, people who suffered from disability from injury or disease ended up spending their lives in asylums or at home. But people who supported occupational therapy believed that they could learn to live normally in spite of their disability.

The first association for occupational therapy in America was founded over 100 years ago, and since then, the field has evolved into a modern medical discipline that uses the latest scientific techniques to help patients.

Occupational therapists focus on helping people with disabling illnesses live normal lives through mental health therapy, counseling, and occupational training. The idea is to give patients the skills and resources they need to re-enter the workforce.

Usually, an occupational therapist will sit down with a patient to assess their needs and develop a treatment program to meet those needs. Then they will develop a roadmap, complete with regular goals, that a patient can follow. The therapist will then meet regularly with the patient to make sure that goals are being met and help patients in whatever way they need.

And there’s evidence that this approach can be very beneficial to people with fibromyalgia.

Occupational Therapy And Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia face a number of challenges when it comes to getting back to work. There are the obvious physical challenges, which occupational therapists can help them overcome. They can help develop an exercise plan to strengthen the muscles and reduce the amount of pain you experience.

But while the physical challenges are always a struggle with fibromyalgia, often people with the condition struggle just as much with the mental side. And occupational therapists can help with this as well. The stress of fibromyalgia can make symptoms worse, and make it more difficult to handle daily responsibilities. Occupational therapy can help you learn ways to deal with the stress through counseling.

Depression is another issue that many people with fibromyalgia face. That’s understandable of course, given how painful and debilitating fibromyalgia is. But overcoming the symptoms of depression is often the first step in living a normal life when you have fibromyalgia. Occupational therapists can help with this as well by referring you to mental health professionals.

And if you’re looking to get back to work, occupational therapists will have resources that will help you find a job and work with you to help you do manage your illness so that you can perform the work.

Occupational therapy takes a holistic approach to helping patients. It focuses on restoring physical mobility as well as teaching valuable coping skills that can help in the management of day-to-day life. Altogether, it can be an effective option for people with fibromyalgia.

And if you’re interested in trying occupational therapy for yourself, it’s usually easy to find someone in your area who can help.

Finding An Occupational Therapist

Like any other medical therapist, you can often get a referral from your doctor. They should have a directory of professionals you can work with in your area.

Failing that, you can check with friends or ask around on fibromyalgia message boards for recommendations. Or you can check online, which is helpful in that you can check reviews online.

Occupational therapists are licensed medical professionals. Before making a decision, you should make sure that the person you are working with is licensed by the relevant body in your area. Be sure to ask if they are licensed and by whom.

So let us know what you think. Have you worked with an occupational therapist? Would you recommend it to others with fibromyalgia? Tell us in the comments.

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