There are millions of people who suffer from fibromyalgia in this country alone. Are you one of them? Do you experience widespread chronic pain, fatigue, mood swings, and poor memory? If you do, it is very possible that you do have it. In this case, you best consult a physician right away to get a diagnosis as well as guidance on how to manage your condition for pain relief and greater comfort.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal condition that manifests as widespread pain over the whole body. Fibromyalgia patients also experience fatigue, tension headaches, stiffness, and sleep disorders. Occurring more often in women than in men, it is not an actual disease, but rather a syndrome to manage. It is not life-threatening and it does not cause muscle or joint damage. Be that as it may, the pain and fatigue can be so severe in some instances that individuals cannot get out of their bed for days.
It is the experience of many fibromyalgia patients to have a dual diagnosis of osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, and/or lupus, but this is not always the case. A couple of decades ago, fibromyalgia was considered by the medical community as a psychosomatic disorder and not a real physical condition. X-rays and lab tests would be conducted to find evidence of osteoarthritis or some other pathology that causes muscle and tendon pain and the results would be negative. Since patients seemed physically fine, their suffering was dismissed as psychosomatic.
Presently, there has been a 180-degree shift so that fibromyalgia is often diagnosed in many cases of fatigue and sleep disorders, including insomnia, even when there is no pain present. While much has been learned about it in the last 18 years, it is still unknown what causes the onset of fibromyalgia. The condition definitely calls for further studies and research.
Fibromyalgia patients usually choose to manage their condition with massage therapy. It is effective as well as non-invasive and has been a proven a powerful method of healthcare since ancient times.
What are the benefits of massage treatments for fibromyalgia?
Various studies conducted by the University of Miami School of Medicine, Touch Research Institute, on the benefits of massage therapy to fibromyalgia patients showed that massage therapy provided the following advantages:
- Increased serotonin level
- Decreased levels of substance P (a pain messenger)
- Decreased circulating stress hormones
- Decreased tender point pain
- Improved sleep patterns
- Improved general sense of well-being
The collective conclusion is that massage therapy is a clinically significant complementary treatment for fibromyalgia. Massage therapists and their patients can attest to this. Patients often claim to leave sessions feeling lighter, in better spirits, and in significantly less pain.
One of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia is poor sleep. Patients complain of waking up tired even after plenty of sleep. If you frequently experience the same, massage can help you feel more relaxed, sleep more deeply, and get a better night’s rest, allowing your body to restore itself properly.
What are the techniques used in fibromyalgia massage (UK)?
Massage therapists normally integrate a variety of massage techniques that are specific to fibromyalgia. Their choices depend on your tender points and sensitivity levels, but manual lymphatic drainage massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release technique are some of those commonly utilised in combination with other methods that specifically address the patient’s needs.
The focus usually centres on pain relief and mobility improvement, so many therapists choose to concentrate on techniques that encourage circulation in the muscles to increase the flow of nutrients while eliminating waste products at the same time. They are particularly suitable for fibromyalgia patients since they relax muscles, improve range of motion in joints, reduce heart rate, and promote the production of the body’s inherent painkillers.
It usually works for massage therapists to start with long, soothing strokes to get the muscles warm, after which, they apply deeper pressure and deeper friction strokes to break down the fibres of knots present, releasing the toxins and reducing the pain they cause.
Does fibromyalgia massage hurt?
Fibromyalgia is painful and patients are left very sensitive to touch. If you have fibromyalgia and are seeking relief through massage, you need to understand that communication is key to the efficacy and success of therapeutic massage. When fibromyalgia massage hurts, it means that your muscles are getting more pressure than they can endure. You should let your therapist know. While professional and experienced therapists are familiar with the needs and effects of the condition, they can certainly get some guidance on your specific case and unique requirements.
Why do fibromyalgia patients need regular massage therapy?
Treatments for fibromyalgia pain are focused on pain reduction, if not total relief. Massage sessions have the ability to make you feel great, but if you are after the full effect of its therapeutic benefits, you need to utilise it as a regular therapy. Generally, the more you go, the better for your overall well-being.
The following are some of the specific benefits of regular massage treatment:
- You can ward off seasonal symptoms — Therapists who have been treating fibromyalgia patients often observe that even though their clients do not have the same lifestyle or age and do not know one another, they tend to present with similar pain patterns. In the summer, many patients would complain of increased tender point pain, which is suspected to be caused by artificially cold environments, such as those created by air conditioning. During storm season, on the other hand, they tend to experience migraines as well as tightness in the upper neck, head, and forehead. Meanwhile, winters bring forth “fibro flares,” which translate to fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and some depression. Going regularly to massage sessions is effective in staving off or diminishing these otherwise expected issues.
- Your body can get some recommended exercise — Studies show that some low-impact exercises increase the levels of natural chemicals in the body that decrease pain and fatigue, thereby causing fibromyalgia relief. Exercising when you are already aching and exhausted is not easy at all, but your massage therapist can incorporate stretching and other exercises into the massage. With the regularity of your massage treatments, you can execute these exercises with sufficient frequency.
- Your therapist becomes particularly familiar with your body’s needs — Going to massage sessions on a regular basis allows your therapist to get to know your body and become acquainted with the tight spots that you yourself may not know about. This familiarity will greatly aid him or her in helping to manage your condition.
- You can learn to condition your body to release some of its pain — Through regular sessions, you can reconnect with yourself as well as facilitate deep relaxation that allows you to release some of your pain. In this state, your breathing and your heart rate slow down, bringing you to a condition that is similar to a pre-sleep state. After several sessions, your body becomes primed to reproduce this deeply relaxed state.
Massage therapy is definitely an effective solution for addressing fibromyalgia. Nonetheless, it is not just about keeping your pain and other symptoms under control, even if it does allow this. Essentially, it is a tool that you can use to take ownership of your condition in a positive and healing way.