Saturday, December 20, 2014

Part II – Proprioception in FM and MPS: Are you a bull in the china cabinet? What can we do? by Celeste Cooper

In “Part I, Proprioception: Are you a bull in the chinacabinet? Is it fibro or myofascial pain syndrome?”  we talked about proprioception, what it is and how it relates to fibromyalgia (FM) and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). 


It’s morning and if you are like me, you can see that your feet are attached to your body as you place them on the floor. Unfortunately, for some of us, as we start to walk, our appendages seem completely unaware of where they are. Our feet should go in the direction we believe we are headed, and our arms should not hit door jams that we have lived with for 10+ years. Slam, bang, crunch, there’s that darn wall again.

What can we do to improve balance and minimize 
the bull in the china cabinet effect?

Treating the myofascia

For the myofascial pain syndrome group (considered by many as the most apparent comorbid disorder to FM, usually a pain specialist, physical therapist, or body-worker) treating trigger points  in sternocleidomastoid and its branches is imperative.

The first treatment suggestion is to identify and correct perpetuating factors and adapt trigger point therapies that calm the hypersensitive areas in the myofascia.

Perpetuating factors include poor spinal alignment, repetitive motion, static positioning, carrying a purse or backpack that is too heavy, head forward posture, extended computer time, ill fitted chair, out of control comorbid conditions, etc.

Releasing trigger points by manual techniques can reduce or alleviate pain. However, it is important to remember that if you also have FM or CFID, the release of cellular byproduct from muscle manipulation can instigate a flare of FM or CFID symptoms. Stay hydrated, even after self-treatment. 

“Trigger points do not respond to positive thinking, biofeedback, meditation, or progressive relaxation. They respond only to physical intervention. However, positive thinking, biofeedback, meditation, and progressive relaxation can help prevent the stress that is thought to aggravate chronic myofascial pain.” (Cooper and Miller, 2010)

Therapies to improve balance

Therapies that are thought to improve balance and proprioception are T’ai Chi, gentle chair Yoga, gentle stretches, whole body vibration, and myofascial release. Also helpful is to balance on a therapeutic ball to improve your kinesthetic awareness (in this case, knowing where your legs and feet, and arms and hands are located). Neuroscience validates that we can train our brain. People with traumatic brain injury are learning to live life again. 

“The only way we could remember would be by constant re-reading, 
for knowledge unused tends to drop out of mind. 
Knowledge used does not need to be remembered; 
practice forms habits and habits make memory unnecessary. 
The rule is nothing; the application is everything.” 
― Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science

Also see:

Five Safety Tips for the Holidays for Persons Living with Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome by Celeste Cooper

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Update 2015

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain Pro Advocate
New Website
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Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others.

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  


Carson JW1, Carson KM, Jones KD, Bennett RM, Wright CL, Mist SD. A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia.
Pain. 2010 Nov;151(2):530-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.08.020.

Castro-Sánchez AM1, Matarán-Peñarrocha GA, Arroyo-Morales M, Saavedra-Hernández M, Fernández-Sola C, Moreno-Lorenzo C. Effects of myofascial release techniques on pain, physical function, and postural stability in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Rehabil. 2011 Sep;25(9):800-13. doi: 10.1177/0269215511399476. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Cooper, C and Miller, J. Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-body Connection. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. 2010.

Prado ET1, Raso V2, Scharlach RC1, Kasse CA1.Hatha yoga on body balance.Int J Yoga. 2014 Jul;7(2):133-7. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.133893.

Sañudo B1, Carrasco L, de Hoyo M, Oliva-Pascual-Vaca Á, Rodríguez-Blanco C. Changes in body balance and functional performance following whole-body vibration training in patients withfibromyalgia syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. J Rehabil Med. 2013 Jul;45(7):678-84. doi: 10.2340/16501977-1174.

Jones KD1, Sherman CA, Mist SD, Carson JW, Bennett RM, Li F. A randomized controlled trial of 8-form Tai chi improves symptoms and functional mobility in fibromyalgia patients.Clin Rheumatol. 2012 Aug;31(8):1205-14. doi: 10.1007/s10067-012-1996-2. Epub 2012 May 13.

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