Fibromyalgia is a widely misunderstood condition that causes widespread pain and fatigue. In people with fibromyalgia, the brain and spinal cord processes pain signals differently. As a result, they react more strongly to touch and pressure and with heightened sensitivity to pain.
One of the biggest misconceptions about fibromyalgia is that it isn’t a real medical problem or that it is “all in your head.” Unfortunately we live in a society where people think there is a cure or fix for every medical problem. We go to the doctor and expect he/she to fix the problem with medication or surgery. But fibromyalgia is one of those conditions that doctors are still perplexed by. There are questions such as how does one get fibromyalgia and why is it more common in women? These are just a few questions that are still unanswered today.
The main symptom from fibromyalgia is pain and can range from mild to severe. It can be described as shooting, burning, or a deep ache. Soft tissue around the joints may develop tender points. Pain can improve during daytime and worsen at night, although for some people the pain remains all day. Other symptoms include:
- Unrefreshed sleep
- Fatigue and cognitive issues
- Anxiety and depression
One way to cope with fibromyalgia is getting a massage. Massage can help improve chronic pain and fibromyalgia symptoms. In the summer time, clients can have a increase in tender point pain, often associated with air conditioning. In Winter they may have flare-ups with general fatigue and overall flu- like pain with mild depression. The best massage for fibromyalgia is the combination of light trigger point, myofascial release, and relaxation techniques with long soothing strokes. When the muscles are warm, a deeper pressure with deeper friction strokes are used to break down the fibers, release toxins, and reduce the pain that they create.
Massage can also provide relaxation to improve sleep. Therapists will usually recommend sessions in the evening so it will benefit the client to allow for better quality sleep at night, thereby helping the body repair and rejuvenate at night more effectively.
Here are some other examples of how Massage can help reduce symptoms:
- Improves muscle tonicity which aids in lethargic muscle and helps restore strength and vitality to the body.
- Headache relief: improves blood flow to the brain
- Improves mental clarity by relieving mental stress and improving cognitive issues
- Helps diminish effects of anxiety or depression. Massage can restore homeostasis of the body which can help diminish hormonal fluctuations, interference with appetite, and chronic fight- or- flight mode.
As a massage therapist, I have dealt with dozens of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I can honestly say every client is different. Although the underlying issue is pain, every client has a different pain level. Something that I run into with fibromyalgia clients often is they will try to convince me of their pain and this truly saddens me. This truly reflects the “ its all in your head” stigma I mentioned earlier in this blog that these people have faced. I recommend finding a Massage Therapist you trust and keep the lines of communication open during the session. A therapist should never go above one’s pain tolerance in any circumstance.