You’re not Alone
If you have Fibromyalgia, you’re not alone. Fibromyalgia is a common musculoskeletal condition that affects 1 in 50 Americans. (myfibro.com & American College of Rheumatology, 2004)
Many people with Fibromyalgia enjoy the benefits of regular massages for pain, muscle soreness stress and improved sleep quality. A recent research study demonstrated that receiving massage improved pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia(1).
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia can be a diagnostic challenge. Fibromyalgia is medically classified as a “syndrome”, meaning it is a group of traits, signs and symptoms that occur simultaneously. Fibromyalgia symptoms vary widely from person to person, and the following is a list of possible symptoms.
- Widespread Pain
- Painful ”Tender Points”
- Muscle Soreness
- General Fatigue
- Limited Tolerance to Activity
- Trouble Concentrating
- Disrupted Sleep
- Digestive Problems
Can Massage Help?
A recent consumer survey, commissioned by The American Message Therapy Association (AMTA), found that 91 percent of survey respondents agreed that massage can be effective in reducing pain, and nearly half of those polled (47 percent) have had a massage specifically for the purpose of relieving pain. Massage can directly reduce muscle soreness, by cleansing muscle tissues of metabolic wastes. The application of heat help calm pain for most fibromyalgia sufferers, and heat packs and hot stones used during massage can be wonderfully soothing to stiff joints and achy muscles.
“Before weekly massages, my muscles never knew what relaxed was. I still involuntarily tighten my muscles, but I have less pain. Now that I know what relaxed muscles feel like, I can monitor my muscles to un-tighten them.”
“The change in my body after seven months of routine massage was tremendous. My headaches are less frequent and I take less medication than I have in years.”
“I utilize massage as a preventative therapy. By seeking help with painful areas before they become unmanageable, I’m able to keep on top of the most painful flares. I also find that when I am over-stressed, massage is a very helpful leveler.”
(Testimonials referenced from https://www.facebook.com/notes/fibromyalgia-network/massage-therapy-for-fibromyalgia-does-it-help-your-fibro/139216276102410)
Having Fibromyalgia and dealing with the pain and limitations also creates a lot of mental stress. Massage can provide great relief from stress, and offer a chance for someone to take charge and provide necessary self-care. Research shows that Massage can help the body achieve deeper sleep and sleep quality(3). During Phase IV sleep, the body’s repair mechanisms go to work, and can improve inflammation responses, digestion and cognition and emotional stability. And who doesn’t feel better after a particularly good night of rest?
What should I know before I get a massage?
Massage can help, but it can also hurt. Everyone responds differently to massage. Some people get great relief from massage with deep pressure. However, others wind up more sore after a really firm massage than they were before. This is because for some people, Deep pressure creates inflammation. It is not uncommon to be a little bit sore for 24 hours after a massage, but if you are a lot sore, or if it lasts for longer than one day, you need to tell your therapist to ease up next time. Trust that you know your body better than anyone else, and if you don’t like something, it’s probably not good for you.
How should I choose a practitioner?
Most Certified or Licensed massage therapists get instruction on working with individuals with Fibromyalgia as part of their entry level massage education. However, there are additional classes available, and each therapist has varying levels of experience. You may want to call your therapist before your appointment to make sure they have a good understanding of what it takes to keep you safe and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist’s FM experience, and what they’re doing during the massage. If it feels worse than a “hurts good” sensation, then it’s too much, and you should speak up. Your therapist should never encourage you to suffer through anything you don’t like during a session.
The Medical Fitness Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area to help you ease your pain, improve range of motion and reduce muscle tension. Let massage touch your life and add to your health and wellbeing!
Click here to find a Medical Fitness Network massage therapist.