As many people may be aware, the main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain. But believe it or not, most sufferers may experience a variety of different additional symptoms. These often include fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, anxiety, depression, severe headaches, cognitive issues and more.
The sad thing is that this is a long-term disorder, and one for which relief can be elusive. But, according to WebMD, in patients with musculoskeletal disorders such as fibromyalgia, manual therapy such as massage has been shown to speed recovery from some acute musculoskeletal pain.
Why is Massage So Effective for Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia-Symptoms.org explains, “It is theorized that massage therapy actually enhances the production of certain pain blockers, including endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These hormones work to counteract pain signals conducted by the brain, and this would explain why massage offers such dramatic pain relief.”
And it gets better. The site explains that massage is effective in reducing stiffness and the tender points of fibromyalgia, as well as pain.
The kicker is that, for many, pain increases at night.
But since massage is known to be an effective method of relaxation which allows people to sleep better, it is believed that late afternoon or evening massages may be a good way to counteract the additional symptoms of fatigue and unrefreshed sleep. In fact, according to the Acupuncture Massage Collage, “massage can improve overall health, mental energy and muscle pain for those experiencing long-term musculoskeletal pain.”
How Should Massage Be Used to Treat Fibromyalgia?
EverydayHealth.com states that, “Therapeutic massage is an ancient means of treating musculoskeletal pain that continues to be popular today. Massage therapists help relieve pain by pressing and rubbing the muscles and soft tissues of your body.”
In the case of fibromyalgia, care must be taken to use the proper types of massage. First it is necessary to establish the goals of massage therapy in this particular treatment.
- Regain, or improve, muscle function.
- Relax the muscles and make them more pliable.
Since patients are so sensitive to pain, there cannot be too much pressure. Therefore deep tissue massage is definitely not advisable, particularly since it does nothing to achieve the two main goals.
A 2010 Israeli study concluded that, “In massage therapy of fibromyalgia, we suggest that massage will be painless, and its intensity should be increased gradually from session to session, in accordance with patient’s symptoms; and the sessions should be performed at least 1-2 times a week.”
Obviously, there must be extremely good communication between a patient and a massage therapist. Naturally, an experienced massage therapist will be able to tell a great deal from a patient’s physical reactions during a massage. However, every patient is different, so they must all be very detailed in explaining their particular symptoms. Only then can a massage therapist create an effective treatment plan.
While symptoms of fibromyalgia may improve over time, it is a disorder that may continue for years. Understandably, it is incredibly difficult to live with such unrelenting pain for such long periods of time, especially since it can be incapacitating at times. That makes it almost impossible for people to maintain the levels of work and family life they would like to have.
It is true that there are some medications on the market, which may prove helpful. However, many of them are not advisable for long-term use, while others have side effects for some patients. Massage, on the other hand, can be used to great effect on almost all patients. As studies have shown, the relief from pain is almost always immediate with massage, plus it reduces or eradicates other symptoms, as well.
Share this Post