- FIBROMYALGIA: MANAGEMENT THROUGH MASSAGE
- 6 Amazing Benefits Of Massage For Fibromyalgia Patients
- Benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients
- History of massage for fibromyalgia relief
- Types of massage
- Other pain conditions treated by massage
- Before your first massage for fibromyalgia
- What to expect during your session
- How to get more massage into your life
- GET FREE EMAIL UPDATES!
- You have Successfully Subscribed!
- All Things Considered: How Does Massage Affect Fibromyalgia?
- How Massage Can Help
- Fibromyalgia Massage Therapy
- Massage Is a Fantastic Therapy Option for Fibromyalgia Patients
- Massage for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
- Getting to Ahh: Types of Massage for Fibromyalgia Pain
- Maximizing Massage for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
- Five benefits of hot stone massage therapy
- What is fibromyalgia?
- What are the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia
- The best massage for fibromyalgia
- Preparing for your massage
FIBROMYALGIA: MANAGEMENT THROUGH MASSAGE
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is associated with widespread chronic pain, fatigue, memory problems and mood changes. It occurs more often in women than in men, and is not a disease, but rather a syndrome that can be managed. Fortunately, fibromyalgia is not life threatening and does not lead to muscle or joint damage.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY FOR FIBROMYALGIA
Massage therapy is one of the oldest methods of healthcare still in practice. At Massage Envy, our professional massage therapists concentrate on techniques that encourage circulation in the muscles, which increases the flow of nutrients and eliminates waste products. This is particularly beneficial for those with fibromyalgia as it can reduce heart rate, relax muscles, improve range of motion in joints and increase production of the body’s natural painkillers.
WHAT MASSAGE TECHNIQUES WILL BE USED?
Massage Envy’s professional massage therapists integrate a variety of massage techniques specific to Fibromyalgia. Depending on your sensitivity levels and tender points, your therapist may utilize Reflexology or various forms of massage for Fibromyalgia, or certain methods that address your specific requests and needs.
Sleep Better, Feel Better
One of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia is waking up tired, even if it seems you’ve received plenty of sleep. After a therapeutic massage for Fibromyalgia from Massage Envy, you’re likely to feel more relaxed and get a better night’s rest. Deep sleep is truly beneficial to managing fibromyalgia as it is during this time that the restorative process occurs. So not only will a therapeutic massage help you wake more refreshed, but you may also experience less pain during the day.
BUT WON’T IT HURT?
Because fibromyalgia causes pain and makes your body extremely sensitive to touch, open lines of communication are vital when it comes to how much pressure your muscles can endure during your session. Our professional therapists are familiar with the specific needs of those suffering from fibromyalgia, but you should also feel comfortable communicating to your therapist which will ensure a soothing, therapeutic massage every time. If you ever have questions, please consult your doctor before beginning any therapy.
RELIEF THROUGH THERAPY
Studies show that low-impact exercise programs give people with fibromyalgia relief by raising the levels of natural chemicals in the body that reduce pain and fatigue. You may be reluctant to exercise if you are already tired and in pain, but there are several options now available to you. With a Massage Envy membership, not only can you enjoy a gentle, therapeutic massage, but we also offer massages that utilize stretching and relaxation. You should begin slowly, but with ongoing help from our professional therapists, you can benefit from continual relief.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF REGULAR MASSAGE FOR FIBROMYALGIA?
Here’s the beauty of massage: Not only does each session feel great, but also the therapeutic benefits are compounded when massage is utilized as a frequent therapy. The more you go, the healthier you feel. With a Massage Envy membership, you can enjoy these benefits from massage for you Fibromyalgia as often as you’d like. Monthly dues include a one-hour massage session and unlimited additional one-hour sessions at the low membership rate. To make things even easier, Massage Envy has over 900 locations nationwide. So you can relax, rejuvenate and continue to grow healthier wherever you go.
The Arthritis Foundation®
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research®
The Touch Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine
6 Amazing Benefits Of Massage For Fibromyalgia Patients
Going for a massage may have been a luxury in the past, but this is changing. As the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia pain become increasingly clear, it is becoming widely recommended for patients. Read on to learn more about the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia, its history, and how you can get safe and effective massages for yourself.
Benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients
People living with fibromyalgia can also find significant relief with massage therapy. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain and persistent fatigue. Joint stiffness and sleep disturbances are also common with fibromyalgia. All these symptoms can be reduced significantly through regular massage.
In fact, studies have shown that individuals with fibromyalgia can experience lots of benefits from massage therapy, including:
- Increased serotonin levels
- Decreased stress hormones
- Decreased substance P levels
- Improved sleep
- Decreased pain at tender points
- Improved overall sense of well-being
The importance of touch (and massage) in human relationships cannot be overestimated. When we are infants, our first positive sensation after the shock of birth is the touch of loving hands. As children, we run to our loved ones for reassurance and care, or just for a goodnight cuddle. Too often as we get older, we lose the understanding of why touch matters every day. For pain patients, touch may even turn into something negative, with every fiber of the body screaming in pain at the slightest contact.
But here’s the thing: massage for fibromyalgia can help pain patients learn how to relax into positive, healing touch again.
History of massage for fibromyalgia relief
Massage may be one of the earliest forms of pain management. Chinese medical literature mentions the use of massage as long as 4,000 years ago, and it continues to be an important feature of traditional Chinese medicine. Additional ancient references to massage therapy occur in literature from Babylonia, India, Greece, and Rome.
One of the most well-known contemporary types, Swedish massage, was introduced to the United States in the 1850s. Many doctors in the United States were using massage techniques by the end of the 1900s, but the following rise in technology and prescriptions overshadowed this therapy. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when alternative therapies became popular again, that massage came to the public’s attention once more.
Now, there are dozens of different types of massage practiced. 125,000 therapists are practicing in the United States, and more than 80 million massage therapy appointments take place in this country each year.
Types of massage
Four of the most popular types of massage are Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, and hot stone.
Swedish massage is a combination of five different types of strokes. This type of massage is meant to encourage both relaxation and blood flow to the heart. It’s also good for loosening joints and reducing soreness.
Deep tissue is focused manipulation of deeper tissues and muscles. It’s designed to address severe soreness or tension in the muscles and tissues, but it can sometimes result in lingering soreness.
Shiatsu is a Japanese style of therapy that’s very popular in the United States. This style of massage is characterized by pressure on specific bodily points, utilizing continuous rhythmic motions.
A hot stone massage, as its name suggests, involves the use of hot stones. These stones provide soothing heat to help relax muscles and ease pain. The therapist will usually combine the use of hot stones with other hands-on techniques.
Other pain conditions treated by massage
Pain patients may avoid massage for fear that it will exacerbate pain, but the opposite is often true. When pain patients have a flare-up, muscles become tight and knotted. Eventually the muscles begin to cling to each other, hardening and stiffening into a permanently tensed state. This limits mobility all over the body and makes movement painful.
Massage does several different things to benefit the body. It:
- Relaxes muscles
- Stimulates weak muscles
- Improves range of motion
- Increases endorphins
- Reduce heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase blood circulation and lymph flow
Because of the many ways in which this therapy can help the body, it can benefit almost anyone, but massage can be particularly beneficial to individuals with a pain condition. The increased circulation, muscle relaxation, and improved range of motion can all provide fibromyalgia relief. But it can also help with many comorbid conditions that occur with fibromyalgia, like headaches and back pain.
Endorphins are one of the body’s natural pain killers, so the increased endorphins from massage therapy can also help manage these pain conditions. The benefits of massage can effectively reduce discomfort from generalized lower back pain, jaw pain from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), joint pain from osteoarthritis, or almost any other pain condition.
Before your first massage for fibromyalgia
Individuals with fibromyalgia should do a little preliminary research before scheduling their first appointment. Online databases, such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB), can help you find a local massage therapist. Also, nationwide locations are becoming increasingly popular; some even allow subscriptions that are good at any location, so you can get your scheduled treatment even while traveling. Physicians and medical professionals at your pain clinic will also be able to provide recommendations.
It’s important to make sure that a massage therapist is the right fit for you. For instance, if you have fibromyalgia, call ahead and ask if the therapist is experienced at treating people to provide fibromyalgia relief. Check online reviews and websites. Massage Envy Spa, for instance, has a page entirely about massage for fibromyalgia relief, so there’s a good chance that any of their locations will have someone familiar with the condition.
Ideally, try to find someone who has lots of experience at treating people with your pain condition. This way, he or she will know which massage technique (or combination of techniques) will be most beneficial. He or she will also be able to suggest a routine that’s worked well for other people with the same condition, such as one hour every other week or two hours per month.
There are also many types of massage, some of which benefit pain patients more than others. When you are meeting with your therapist for the first time, talk to your therapist specifically about which types she or he recommends.
What to expect during your session
When you meet a therapist for the first time, he or she should sit and talk with you for a while. Painful areas, sensitivities, concerns, medical conditions, and anything else you think relevant should all be discussed. If you have fibromyalgia, make sure the therapist is aware and knows to stop immediately if you ask him or her to.
Also, while massage can certainly yield lots of benefits, it’s possible that the actual massage might hurt at times. Discuss this with your pain doctor and with your therapist beforehand, so you know if or when to stop the massage. It may take a few sessions to notice any significant benefits. In fact, some sources suggest that about 10% of people with fibromyalgia experience aggravated symptoms after their first few massages.
And, after a massage for fibromyalgia, you may expect to feel floaty and relaxed, but that may not always be the case. Working muscles deeply can release toxins and free radicals being stored there, and this can make you feel a little “off.” In addition, some soreness may be present directly after massage. Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts can help to relieve this soreness and relax you into sleep.
How to get more massage into your life
For many, the price of massage for fibromyalgia may be daunting, but there are ways around spending exorbitant, spa-level money. There are a few different ways to get more into your life. Here are some important things to remember and some affordable options for regular massage.
1. Practice self-massage
While this is not quite the same thing as a full-body massage from a trained therapist, regular self-massage can help release the muscles holding the most tension, usually those around the neck and shoulders.
2. Ask your partner
Asking a partner for massage is a free way to get the full-body treatment. This is also a great way to get comfortable with asking for what you want and knowing what hurts and what helps. It may not be as deep or as therapeutic as a trained therapist, but partner massage for fibromyalgia can not only get you started but also help to deepen your bond with your partner.
3. Use apps
Downloading apps, especially when asking your partner for massage, can help enhance the at-home experience. Massage Techniques, available for $2.99 for iOS and Android phones, offers instruction in 130 different massage techniques, including 13 full massages. There is even an anatomy section to help you and your partner better understand the muscles of the body. This can be an invaluable tool in self-massage as well.
4. Look for Thai massage
Thai massage is a great alternative for those looking not only for affordability but also for modesty. The recipient remains fully clothed during each session, and the therapist pulls, stretches, and compresses muscles rather than kneading. This type of massage is often available through yoga studios and may be combined with partner or restorative yoga.
5. Visit massage schools
Massage schools are an excellent alternative to a more expensive spa experience. Students are fully supervised by their professors, and students often provide cheap or free massages as part of their practicum requirements. You can usually request a student who is focusing on massage for pain patients. They may even travel to your home! To find a participating school, locate a massage school in your area and give them a call or visit their website.
Maybe you need a regular massage but just can’t take time off work. Using the apps Soothe and Zeal, a screened, licensed therapist will come to you at your work (or home) at your convenience. While this option is not free, it can make massage more affordable and convenient, which may help to make it a more regular part of a comprehensive pain treatment plan.
7. Participate in a rewards program
Many therapists and studios participate in rewards programs like Perkville, which awards points for each visit. Accumulated points can be redeemed for money off massages or even free treatments. They are free and usually only require a simple sign up.
Whether you’re just getting started with massage for fibromyalgia, or have been finding relief with it for years, it provides an excellent non-invasive pain management option for many patients. If you need more help with fibromyalgia, however, consider reaching out to a pain doctor. They can provide complementary therapies to be used along with treatments like massage to help you find the most relief.
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All Things Considered: How Does Massage Affect Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal condition that affects nearly 5 million Americans, and causes pain throughout the entire body. It affects a significantly higher percentage of women versus men, and causes tension headaches, fatigue, stiffness, and sleep disorders. The cause of Fibromyalgia is still unknown, a fact which only increases the anxiety for those who live with it and hope to find some relief.
Fibromyalgia causes tension that is felt in the skeletal muscles and the connective muscle tissue of the body, where it decreases elasticity and affects the arterial blood supply. This activates the pain receptors and results in chronic pain that may not be “caused” by anything apparent, which makes it difficult to treat the root cause.
This pain is only a start to the endless cycle of issues which affect the central nervous system’s release of serotonin, and from there it can increase the likelihood of depression and/or mood swings. It also affects the ability to achieve quality rest, which prevents the body from being able to repair itself and can further increase depression and exhaust the body, mind, and spirit.
There has yet to be found a direct cure for Fibromyalgia, however it is important to optimize the body so that it can fight related symptoms including depression, exhaustion, and memory problems. The best way to do that is to allow the body to repair itself during quality REM cycle sleep.
How Massage Can Help
Massage therapy decreases stress hormones and increases serotonin, therefore improving one’s overall sense of well-being. It also helps to relax the body in order to achieve quality sleep, when the body can repair itself and start fresh for the following day. Once the body has reached homeostasis after a night of quality rest, it will have both the mental and physical energy to address challenges throughout the next day.
The types of massage that tend to work best for those suffering from Fibromyalgia are techniques that combine kneading, pressure, stretching, and heat. These types of massages will loosen up the parts of the body that have been made tight, and increase mobility in order to take on physical tasks. Massage also increases circulation and helps the body to clear out toxins within the muscles. It is recommended that those with Fibromyalgia consult their physician prior to any massage therapy, and only receive massages with gentle pressure since their muscles can be sensitive. Recommended forms of massage for Fibromyalgia include Swedish Massage, Passive Stretching, and Sports Massage. Deep Tissue Massage is not recommended for those suffering from Fibromyalgia due to its pressure intensity.
Massage chairs make an excellent option for those suffering from Fibromyalgia as they are the most cost-effective massage method for people who require regular, long-term massage therapy. They also make a great choice because of the convenience and availability for the user to take advantage of a professional-grade massage at any time of day, for as long as they like, and without having to leave the comfort of their home.
Some chairs that make an ideal fit for someone with Fibromyalgia include the Novo massage chair, AcuTouch 9500x massage chair, ZeroG 5.0 massage chair, HT-7120 massage chair, and the iJoy 2580 massage chair.
Fibromyalgia Massage Therapy
These massage types have been shown to help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
This type of fibromyalgia massage treats muscle pain and stiffness by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood flow, and stimulating the “stretch reflex” in muscles. This approach was supported by the inventor of osteopathic medicine, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. This fibromyalgia massage technique can be active (patient provides resistance) or passive (patient stays relaxed).
Connective Tissue Massage:
This type of fibromyalgia massage uses slower strokes with more pressure to release deeper layers of muscle and fascia (connective tissue).
This type of fibromyalgia massage involves applying pressure to specific points on the body in an attempt to relieve tension. According to this Japanese healing treatment, the points are located along energy pathways called meridians.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage:
This gentle massage aids in the natural drainage of lymphatic fluid, which is responsible for circulating through the body’s lymph system, carrying waste products away from the tissues and back toward the heart. This system works by movement of skeletal muscles and contraction of the “smooth muscle” in the walls of lymph vessels. This fibromyalgia massage uses rhythmic motions to get the lymph fluid moving.
Another way to encourage movement of the lymph fluid is through stimulation of the soleus muscle, also called the calf muscle pump (CMP). When the CMP contracts, it forces blood and lymphatic fluids up toward the heart. The Hummingbird, a groundbreaking non-invasive device, uses vibration on the plantar surface to activate the CMP, and has been shown in clinical studies to significantly improve the wellbeing of individuals who suffer from symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Keep reading to learn about other ways to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is one of the most debilitating conditions that an estimated 5.8 million people in the U.S. suffer from. The disease manifests itself in symptoms that involve muscle aches, pain, weakness, and joint stiffness. It also involves unexplained fatigue, making it difficult for patients to move or perform normal daily activities. Although fibromyalgia symptoms may be alleviated through the use of medications, many patients also turn to massage therapy for relief. Massage can be an effective complement to more conventional means of treatment. Massage therapy and fibromyalgia symptoms are researched by many people suffering from this condition.
Massages require the physical manipulation of muscles and tissues. When done correctly, it can help encourage proper circulation of blood throughout the system. Coupled with correct breathing on the patient’s end, regular massage therapy can promote tissue oxygenation. This process helps eliminate pain and stiffness and promote better flexibility.
There are several types of massages that may be used with patients who have fibromyalgia. One of the most popular techniques is circulatory massage because it uses deep pressure to relieve muscle pain and eliminate tension. Shiatsu massage is also a popular form of therapy. Shiatsu is a type of massage that targets pressure points in the hands, fingers, and knuckles in order to stimulate the body to relax and relieve itself of pain. This can be an ideal massage for someone with fibromyalgia because it avoids direct contact with the muscles and major joints, usually the parts of the body where the most pain is experienced. Another viable option is reflexology, a type of massage therapy where the therapist manipulates only the patient’s feet and hands.
Interested in becoming a certified massage therapist? Visit the campus web site nearest you:
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Research regarding the use of massage therapy for treating and managing certain disorders and illnesses is growing. For the treatment of pain, stiffness, and discomfort associated with fibromyalgia, massage therapy has been observed to be effective among subjects in several studies. One such study, which appeared in April 2002 in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, reported that the group that received massage therapy reported improved sleep duration, quality, and decreased pain.
Another study, one conducted by the New Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine, showed that massage therapy helped improve patients with joint and muscle pains. The study concluded that massage therapy helped decreased pain and tenderness, increased levels of serotonin, decreased levels of stress hormones, and improved the patient’s overall sense of well-being.
Massage Is a Fantastic Therapy Option for Fibromyalgia Patients
There’s been renewed interest and discussion about fibromyalgia with Lady Gaga’s recent announcement that she suffers from this often debilitating condition. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that includes musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and sleep problems – and affects over 10 million Americans, which is approximately 2% – 4% of the adult population. About 80% of fibromyalgia patients are women.
3 Main Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia results in widespread pain in all four quadrants of your body, for more than three consecutive weeks. Traditionally, there were 18 specific tender points that needed to be tender for a fibromyalgia diagnosis, but this is no longer a requirement. Now, diagnosis is done through elimination of other conditions that can cause the same symptoms combined with ongoing, widespread pain for over three weeks. Getting a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be an extremely difficult and complex endeavor, as symptoms mimic other conditions and come and go without clear reason or triggers.
- Sleep disturbances are significant in fibromyalgia, including insomnia and frequent waking during the night due to pain.
- Chronic fatigue is also very common, as often those with fibromyalgia wake feeling tired even when they have slept through the night. Studies have shown that patients experiencing pain after surgery show disturbed sleep, specifically rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Fibromyalgia patients also experience these disturbances during the deepest stages of sleep, when recovery and repair to the body takes place. This results in waking feeling tired and fatigued, as well as with a lack of recovery in muscle tissue, which results in more pain . . . then more sleep disturbances . . . then more pain. This pain/sleep disturbance cycle is ongoing in fibromyalgia patients, and is the underlying cause of the chronic fatigue that they experience.
- Cognitive difficulties, or fibro fog, also occur in most fibromyalgia sufferers at least on occasion. This fibro fog is often a result of the constant pain and disturbances to restorative sleep that occur. Anyone who has suffered from pain, even a garden variety pulled muscle or headache, knows that it leaves you feeling exhausted and makes mental concentration difficult. Being in constant, daily pain, with ongoing sleep disturbances, makes it an everyday challenge for fibromyalgia sufferers to concentrate.
Other conditions often accompany fibromyalgia, including migraines and headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other autoimmune diseases including lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation is a major component of fibromyalgia, which increases the incident of many autoimmune diseases as well as the symptoms of any preexisting autoimmune or inflammation based conditions. This contributes significantly to the difficulties of diagnosing fibromyalgia.
Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Treatment for fibromyalgia usually involves over-the-counter pain relievers and can require prescription pain medications when the condition flares up. Antidepressants often help to reduce the pain and fatigue that accompanies fibromyalgia, and can help improve sleep. Anti-seizure drugs are often used to reduce pain and fibromyalgia symptoms.
Studies have shown that, while exercise is a major contributing factor in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia, heavy weight lifting or strenuous exercise may trigger flare ups of symptoms. Low impact cardiovascular exercise, like walking, biking or rowing, has been shown to help manage symptoms long term. The increase in circulation improves oxygenation throughout your body and helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong have been shown to reduce pain by improving flexibility and can also improve sleep, a key component in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms.
How Massage Therapy Can Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Alternative treatments such as massage therapy have also been shown to greatly improve symptoms of this chronic condition.
Massage therapy has been shown to:
- reduce headaches and migraines
- reduce anxiety and depression
- improve mental clarity
- improve restorative and restful sleep
- reduce muscle tension
All of these outcomes greatly improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, making massage a fantastic therapy option for these patients.
Caution with Deep Tissue Massage
Because fibromyalgia is a constant, chronic, low-level pain condition, it presents some specific challenges when working with these patients. The constant inflammation of fibromyalgia affects the soft tissues, including muscle tissue and fascia. The muscle tissue becomes hypertonic throughout the body, creating conditions of reduced blood supply that bring about reduced oxygenation and increased trigger point, and tender point, activity.
While the traditional approach to hypertonic muscle tissue and trigger point activity is deep tissue massage with neuromuscular techniques in addressing the trigger points, this approach is often counterproductive in fibromyalgia patients. Because of the constant inflammation and pain that underlies this condition, deep tissue massage techniques can often bring on a flare up of pain symptoms in fibromyalgia patients.
Working with this population requires an ongoing evaluation process to assess their present state, as well as their reaction to massage therapy work. Fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go with little or no warning, and they can be triggered by something as simple as sitting in an uncomfortable chair for a few minutes. Because of the underlying nature of fibromyalgia, it is important to have constant feedback from these patients.
When working with a fibromyalgia patient for the first time, light to moderate effleurage is appropriate to gauge your client’s body reaction to massage. If there is no flare up from a light to moderate massage, the next session may involve deeper pressure and/or more specific work, such as trigger point work. It is critical that the therapist does not “dive in” to deep work on fibromyalgia patients but, rather, increases pressure and adds techniques slowly, allowing for feedback to determine the level of physical responses.
Many fibromyalgia patients do actually see improvement in symptoms from deep tissue massage and techniques for releasing trigger points, but it remains important to progress slowly, allowing time to see how your client’s body responds. Another factor to consider is that fibromyalgia patients will go through cycles when they are relatively symptom free and can tolerate deeper massage work and other cycles where they experience every symptom fully and even the lightest touch can be painful. It is necessary to do an intake before each appointment to determine where your client is – that day – in the lifecycle of this complex and ever-changing condition. It is also vital to establish constant, open communication with your client in which they feel comfortable giving feedback about pressure and technique.
While there is much to consider when providing massage to fibromyalgia sufferers, massage therapy can be an excellent treatment option that can aid with improved sleep, reduced pain, muscle tension and anxiety, and improved cognitive function.
Fibromyalgia and Massage
The Impact of Fibromyalgia
Massage for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
When it comes to life’s great pleasures, a good massage ranks high on the list. Some people indulge in massage to relax, others to loosen up after a tough exercise session or to relieve pain. Because massage offers all these benefits, it can be a great addition to your fibromyalgia treatment plan and even improve your quality of life.
“Massage can bring a lot of benefits to fibromyalgia patients in terms of alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with the condition,” says Salifou N. Bishop, a licensed clinical massage therapist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore who treats people with fibromyalgia.
A recent Israeli review published in the journal Rheumatology International found modest evidence that massage can be used as an effective fibromyalgia treatment. Perhaps more importantly, the findings suggest that for the greatest fibromyalgia symptom relief, the massage should be painless (some types can be rough), the intensity of the kneading should be increased gradually, and you should have sessions at least once or twice a week.
Getting to Ahh: Types of Massage for Fibromyalgia Pain
“Massage therapy is the most widely used type of complementary and alternative medicine in hospitals because it reduces stress, helps relieve pain, decreases feelings of anxiety, and increases general overall well-being — all of which are great for people with fibromyalgia,” says Rhonda Crockett, a licensed massage therapist at the Ohio State University Center for Integrative Medicine in Columbus who works with fibromyalgia patients. “Massage also releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.”
The key is getting the right kind of massage to help ease both the physical and mental effects of fibromyalgia. “The types that have been found to work best on people with fibromyalgia are techniques that combine kneading, pressure, friction, stretching, and heat application to promote circulation and clear the body of built-up toxins within the muscles,” Crockett says.
Check out these forms of massage therapy for your fibromyalgia treatment:
Trigger point therapy. “Fibromyalgia can be treated with a variety of massage techniques, but I personally like trigger point therapy the best,” Bishop says. Trigger points are painful spots located in bands of muscle fibers, and people with fibromyalgia generally have more of them than people without the condition. Trigger point therapy involves deactivating trigger points using finger pressure. “Once you are able to identify those painful points and apply the pressure needed, you can often have a good outcome in terms of fibromyalgia pain and discomfort management,” Bishop says.
Swedish massage. “Swedish massage combines kneading, gliding/sliding, beating, and friction, all of which promote fresh blood to reach the areas of the body that have been nutritionally starved and deprived of nutrients and oxygen,” explains Crockett.
Swedish massage is Bishop’s second choice for fibromyalgia treatment. “People with fibromyalgia often have a lot of stress in their lives, and Swedish massage can help with relaxation and stress relief and therefore increase well-being,” he says.
Myofascial release. “Myofascial release involves applying gentle sustaining pressure into connective tissue,” explains Crockett. “It helps eliminate fibromyalgia pain and restoration of motion by elongating muscle fibers.”
Hot-stone massage. During hot-stone massage, the massage therapist places heated, smooth, flat stones on key points of the body and uses them as massage tools. “Hot-stone massage is another technique that can help the body relax and provide benefits for some people with fibromyalgia symptoms,” Bishop says.
Passive stretching. Passive stretching involves exerting an external force on a limb to move it into a new position. “People with fibromyalgia often have very stiff joints because of the constant muscle spasms associated with the condition,” Bishop says. “By gently moving their arms and legs in the same direction, we can loosen up those muscles and joints.”
Sports massage. “Sports massage is most often used before or after an athletic event, but it can also benefit people with fibromyalgia,” Crockett says. “Sports massage can alleviate stress and tension that build up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. It reduces heart rate and blood pressure, increases circulation and lymph flow, improves flexibility, and can help relieve fibromyalgia pain.”
Maximizing Massage for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief
“When it comes to a fibromyalgia patient with chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and muscle spasms, you want to be careful with how much pressure you apply,” Bishop says. So, one form of massage to avoid is deep-tissue massage, which focuses on muscles located below the surface of the top muscles and uses deeper pressure. “The goal is to gain function of the muscles and to help the muscles become more pliable and able to relax — deep-tissue massage won’t help with that,” he explains.
To get the most from massage for fibromyalgia pain relief, first get clearance from your doctor. Once you get the green light, look for a reputable massage therapist experienced in the treatment of fibromyalgia. “A clinical massage therapist who works in a medical facility, clinic, or hospital will best understand what’s happening in the body with fibromyalgia and be able to create a treatment plan suitable for the condition,” Bishop says, adding that your primary care physician may be able to recommend a good clinical massage therapist. “Then your physician can communicate easily with the therapist in terms of anything they should be aware of regarding your specific fibromyalgia symptoms.”
The next tip is to see your massage therapist often. “Depending on the severity of a person’s fibromyalgia symptoms, I usually recommend he or she sees me two times a week for four weeks to get the routine down,” says Bishop. He says the frequency can then taper slowly to once a week and then once a month, and that it’s helpful if you can do some self-care on your own in between sessions.
Bishop also advises that you communicate openly with your massage therapist. “Healing is a process, and talking to your therapist and sharing all your fibromyalgia symptoms can help the therapist best design a safe and secure treatment plan for you,” he says.
Five benefits of hot stone massage therapy
Share on PinterestA hot stone massage may not be appropriate for everyone and any concerns should be raised with either the masseur or a healthcare professional.
Despite the many benefits associated with hot stone massage, it is not an appropriate therapy for everyone.
There are some people who should not have a massage, and more specifically, a hot stone massage.
For hot stone massage, some of the contraindications, or factors that mean a person should not have a particular treatment, are listed below.
Breaks in the skin
Anyone with injuries or breaks in the skin should avoid a hot stone massage until those injuries have healed.
Recent or severe bruising, cuts or scrapes, sunburn or varicose veins increase the risk for further tissue damage or injury. They also raise the chance of infection being introduced via bacteria from the massage oils or stones.
Infection or illness
This may sound like commonsense, but anyone with a fever, cold, or flu should avoid a massage until they feel better.
Someone with a fever may spread their germs, and they will have difficulty regulating their body temperature, as well. This will leave them feeling more uncomfortable when hot stones are put on their skin.
Heart disease can cause swelling or other problems in the veins or arteries of the legs, both of which can be negatively affected by a massage.
A person should always tell the massage therapist about any health issues they have, so that they can be aware of potential risks.
Diabetes influences how well the nerves and blood vessels function in the fingers and feet. People with diabetes can lose feeling in their hands and feet, making them unable to feel if an injury, such as a burn, occurs.
When it comes to massage, they may not be able to tell if the massage therapist is using too much pressure, or if the hot stones are burning their skin.
Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Drugs and alcohol do not mix well with massage. Both impair the ability to give feedback if necessary, and also affect judgment, and a person’s self-control over their impulses.
Furthermore, having a massage can leave someone feeling light-headed or wobbly. Drinking alcohol will compound and worsen these feeling.
Prenatal massage can be very relaxing and beneficial for many women, during their pregnancy. However, some practitioners feel uncomfortable with using hot stones on a pregnant woman.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterised by constant pain, tiredness and cognitive issues, such as problems managing emotions. It can occur during any stage of life, though is most common in women between 30 and 50.
Rather than a disease or illness that can be “cured”, it is an ongoing syndrome that must be managed. While not life-threatening, it can have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life.
The catalyst for fibromyalgia remains a subject of debate, but it’s thought to be due to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, which then impacts the way the nervous system deals with pain. It can sometimes be triggered by a specific challenging event, such as:
- an injury
- giving birth
- A stressful event like a death or breakdown of a relationship
It’s a common condition, with some estimates suggesting that around 1 in 20 people have experience of fibromyalgia. However, it can be tricky to identify because of its wide variety of potential symptoms.
What are the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can have have an impact on your entire body, causing ongoing problems in the muscles and joints, which is why sufferers choose to incorporate massage as a natural pain management technique. A massage can relax your muscles and loosen your joints, so can be very effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
Other helpful benefits of massage may include:
- Relief from headaches
- Improved sleep
- Alleviating symptoms of anxiety and stress
The best massage for fibromyalgia
Finding the right massage for fibromyalgia is important, and you must choose a technique that is sensitive to your particular symptoms. A few that that have been found to be effective include:
Reflexology: by stimulating points on the feet and hands, the whole body can be relaxed. This type of treatment applies short bursts of light pressure, and you can always ask for less if it’s causing pain or discomfort.
Swedish Massage: using long strokes, kneading and variable pressure, this technique can be used over the entire body, concentrating in areas of particular tension.
Cranial-sacral therapy: by applying pressure to key areas of the skull and around the lower spine, the flow of spinal fluid can be investigated, improving your overall muscle function.
Preparing for your massage
If you do decide to pursue massage for pain relief, it’s essential that you talk with your doctor first, to agree on the best course of treatment for your particular symptoms.
It’s also recommended that you:
- Drink plenty of water before and after which helps to drain released toxins from the body.
- Discuss the details of the treatment with your therapist before they begin, making sure they’re aware of any particularly sensitive areas. Continue to communicate throughout the massage if anything changes, or if you’re ever in too much pain.
- Rest afterwards, and don’t rush into another treatment too soon. Allow your muscles to respond to what’s been performed on them. This will help you keep on top of what your body is telling you that it needs.
- Consider regular appointments. While a one-off session may certainly help, the effects of massage can be cumulative, so a routine treatment may be more effective in helping you to manage your long-term chronic pain.
Most massage therapists encounter clients with fibromyalgia, a condition whose name means “pain in the muscles and connective tissues of the body.”
Testing revealed that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients showed identical brain wave patterns, tender points, pain and fatigue. Many doctors consider the two diseases as being two names for one disease. The major difference seems to be that those diagnosed with fibromyalgia tend to experience greater muscle pain, while those diagnosed with chronic fatigue seem to experience greater fatigue.
Another condition, Polymyalgia (meaning “many muscle pains”) is, for massage purposes, essentially fibromyalgia that extends beyond the 18 points.
Two measurable changes occur in the brain chemistry of fibromyalgia patients. These are: 1) An increase in Substance P, a neurotransmitter that increases the sensitivity of nerves to pain, and 2) A decrease in Serotonin, a neurotransmitter than reduces sensitivity to pain
What causes fibromyalgia? In two words: nobody agrees. While theories abound, there is no concrete medical evidence that clearly proves the cause of fibromyalgia. More likely than not, fibromyalgia is the result of a number of interdependent causes that, when existing together, make some people more susceptible to developing fibromyalgia.
In a study of 6,240 fibromyalgia patients, 59% felt they were able to identify a specific trigger of their condition. Of those, 39% felt their disease was triggered by a physical injury, 27% by a major emotional shock, 15% by a severe infection, 9% from surgery, 5% from exposure to chemicals or drugs.
Benefits of massage in fibromyalgia
Therapeutic benefits of massage have been proven in a wide variety of conditions, and fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are no exception.
A study was published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, volume 2, pages 18 – 22 compared massage therapy to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The massage resulted in improved sleep patterns, decreased pain, less fatigue, fewer incidences of anxiety and depression, and decreased cortisol levels.
The Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Volume 3, Number 3, 1997 included a study of massage which indicated that patients receiving one-half hour of massage twice a week for five weeks showed less depression, pain, cortisol levels, anxiety, stress and increases in dopamine levels and enhanced sleep. The patient’s decrease in symptoms began immediately after receiving the first massage, and continued to decrease throughout the duration of the study.
Working with fibromyalgia clients
Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a 16 CE online massage therapy continuing education course for fibromyalgia. Techniques that are taught in this course are useful for most massage therapy clients, even those without fibromyalgia, since the 18 pain points of fibromyalgia are common areas for tension and pain, such as the neck, shoulders, and hips. This course will teach you:
- Passive Neuromuscular Re-Education Strain/Counterstrain: These are a series of passive techniques shown for all 18 pain points, where the patient simply receives the treatment without muscular participation. These are excellent to use in clients who are experiencing extreme pain
- Active Isometric Neuromuscular Re-Education Exercises: These are a series of isometric/isotonic neuromuscular re-education techniques demonstrated on all 18 pain points of fibromyalgia. These are active techniques that are very effective for promoting the release of chronically tight muscles. With these techniques, the client is actively involving the muscles while the practitioner applies counter pressure. This technique is effective for clients who are stronger and healthier.
- Lymph gland work at major lymph drainage points: There are four major lymph drainage points in the body. The technique involves pumping motions designed to promote the flow of the lymphatic fluid through these points.
- Abdomen: Working the abdomen will not only promote peristalsis, but also gently massage all the major organs in this region.
- Mobilizations/Stretching: A series of passive stretches to promote muscle mobility.
- Reflexology targeting PMS, a scientifically proven technique for combating a common ailment associated with fibromyalgia.
To learn more about our .
What is fibromyalgia, and how can massage help as a form of treatment?
My knowledge of fibromyalgia was not particularly extensive until I had a new enquiry from a prospective client one day, who has had fibromyalgia for five years. My lovely client said she wanted to try out massage therapy as a way of treating the pain she was experiencing.
Since my client’s first treatment I have read a number of articles, and done some research about fibromyalgia, and have also massaged three other clients with fibromyalgia. I have become quite passionate about how massage therapy can help those living with the condition every day. Though my clients and I are still on our journey together of how massage can improve their constant pain, I feel we have made good progress already and can see the true benefits it is bringing, both to their muscles and also their frame mind in helping them to relax. The approach we are adopting is a slow and steady one towards managing the pain. We are all determined to keep positive, committed to improving their condition through massage therapy.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder causing pain and fatigue in the muscles and fibrous tissues all over the body.
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, often felt all over the body. For some people the pain is worse in their back or neck, though each day can bring aches and twinges in a different area of the body. Some days, people may feel the pain more severely than others. The pain can vary, from an ache to a burning sensation or even a sharp, stabbing pain.
Fibromyalgia affects seven times as many women as men, and can develop at any point in our lives, though frequently develops in women between the ages of 30 – 50.
FMS can also have other side effects:
* Muscle stiffness
* ‘Fibro fog’ (a difficulty in concentrating)
* Many people may experience depression due to the above effects
In addition, people with fibromyalgia may have increased sensitivity to pressure and pain, so the thought of a deep tissue massage might be out of the question. With one of my lovely clients, we have started off light and are gradually building the pressure each week.