What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that can cause chronic pain and tenderness in the body. It's quite common, up to twenty-five per cent of people may be affected. It occurs more often in women than in men and is not a disease, but a condition that can be managed.
Fibromyalgia in itself doesn't cause any lasting damage to the body's tissues. However, it's important to watch your diet and lifestyle choices, keeping as active as you can to avoid weakening of the muscles which could lead to secondary health problems.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain, which can range from mild to severe. You may experience your pain as shooting pain, burning or a deep and consistent ache. The soft tissue around your joints may develop tender points. The pain may improve during the day and then increase at night, although for some people the pain remains all day.
Almost all fibromyalgia patients suffer similar symptoms such as sleep disturbance, extreme tiredness (fatigue) and cognitive issues. Less frequent symptoms include poor circulation, headaches, irritability, anxiety and depression. When managed, symptoms can improve; however, fibromyalgia is a long-term disorder with pain and symptoms often continuing for years.
The effects of these symptoms vary from person to person and from day to day. Many people have flare-ups from time to time when their symptoms become suddenly worse.
People with fibromyalgia often say that fatigue is the worst part of the condition and that they can't seem to think clearly or remember things properly (this is sometimes called 'fibrofog' or 'brainfog').
The pain may feel as though it affects your whole body, or it may be particularly painful in just a few areas. Some people find that their pain feels worse in very hot, cold or damp weather.
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia
There are many benefits of massage for fibromyalgia clients, and various types of massage, including myofascial release and Swedish techniques. Here are five of the benefits of massage for people living with fibromyalgia:
1. Relaxation to improve sleep. Massage in the evening will benefit the condition and allow you to better quality sleep at night, thus helping the body repair and rejuvenate more effectively. 2. Improved muscle tonicity. This benefit will aid lethargic muscles and help restore strength and vitality to your body. 3. Improve mental clarity. A relaxing massage session and other touch therapies can raise health awareness and relieve mental stress, which can also improve any cognitive issues. 4. Headache relief. Improving blood flow to the brain can alleviate the physical source of a headache, keeping your mind in a healthier space. 5. Reduce the effects of any anxiety or depression. These effects include hormonal fluctuations, interference with appetite and chronic fight-or-flight mode. Massage can restore homeostasis of the body, therefore reducing these effects.
What massage techniques are used?
Massage therapy is one of the oldest methods of healthcare still in practice. Depending on your sensitivity levels and tender points, I will adjust my massage pressure and focus on techniques that encourage circulation in the muscles, ensuring the massage is particularly beneficial for fibromyalgia clients. Improving circulation can reduce your heart rate, relax your muscles, improve your range of motion in joints and increase the production of the body's natural painkillers.
Because fibromyalgia causes pain and makes your body extremely sensitive to touch, open lines of communication are crucial when it comes to how much pressure your muscles can endure during your massage session. You should feel comfortable communicating your pain levels and tender spots to your therapist which will ensure he/she can adjust the pressure to provide a soothing and beneficial massage.
Sleep Better, Feel Better
One of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia is fatigue, even if you feel like you have been sleeping well. After a massage you are likely to feel more relaxed and get a better night's rest. Deep sleep is beneficial to managing fibromyalgia as sleep signals the body to begin the restorative process. So not only will a good massage help you wake more refreshed, but you may also experience less pain during the day.
Never feel bad about doing what’s best for you. You need to be your first and foremost priority above all else.