Massage For Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can affect every area of your life. Along with widespread pain,
a number of other symptoms can limit your activities and challenge your ability to cope. But you can feel better. In addition to medical attention, consistent massage therapy acts on multiple levels to help manage this difficult condition. Profoundly relaxing, massage can reduce pain, improve quality of life, and provide emotional support through caring touch.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia literally translates as fibrous (fibro), muscle (myo), pain (algia). There is no single identified cause, although physical trauma such as auto accidents or surgery can be a major trigger for its onset. Others may include infections, stress, sleep disturbances, or severe emotional trauma, even from years past.

Most people with fibromyalgia experience pain at multiple sites throughout the body, although it may start in one region such as the back, neck or shoulders and spread over time. If you have fibromyalgia, you know it doesn’t stop there. More than likely, you experience a host of other symptoms such as severe fatigue, headaches, and trouble concentrating. And you may be anxious, perhaps even depressed, about feeling the way you do.

Massage to lighten your load

Your system is overtaxed. You may be overwhelmed trying to cope while leading a normal life, and you may not know how to begin feeling better. The good news is that lightening your load anywhere will free up physical and emotional resources your body needs to heal. Massage can help.

Pain relief

In fibromyalgia, pain may be aggravated by lack of sleep, stress, long periods of sitting or standing, or other physical and emotional factors. Deeply relaxing and comforting, massage shifts your attention to the pleasant sensation of caring touch — an effective break from the unrelenting pain.

What’s more, massage increases circulation, which cleanses tissues of uncomfortable fluid buildup and irritating by-products of inflammation? As increased oxygen and nutrition flow to contracted muscles, your muscles can relax. Headaches may be eased, and the severity and frequency of flare-ups may be reduced.

Stress relief
Stress can be a special problem for you since research shows it heightens sensitivity to pain. Massage calms the nervous system, slowing and deepening the breath, allowing anxiety to fade, and relaxing muscle tension. Stress levels decrease, freeing energy for vital functions such as digestion — needed for maximum healing and nutrition throughout your body — and repair of damaged tissue. In addition, knowing there is something you can do to alleviate symptoms, even temporarily, can reduce stress by giving you some control over your condition.

Better sleep.
Since poor sleep is common in fibromyalgia and contributes to fatigue and muscle tenderness, improving sleep may be vital. Feeling rested and relaxed after a massage, you, like many people, may experience a deeper and more restorative sleep.

Emotional support

Your massage therapist understands that you may be feeling very alone. She or he will listen and take your symptoms seriously. Massage offers the most basic emotional support — skillful, caring and healing touch.

Support for exercise

Although fatigue and pain may make you feel like curling up and staying put, consistent exercise is essential to improvement. Massage can support you by making it easier and less painful to stretch and exercise appropriately.

Improved breathing

Many fibromyalgia sufferers have habitually shallow breathing patterns that can aggravate pain and tension, especially in the neck, chest, and shoulders. Your massage therapist can help release tight muscles that restrict your breathing and work with you to establish good habits. This retraining along with techniques such as abdominal breathing can be a powerful tool not only to relieve stress and pain but to increase energy.

Massage, a gentle approach

Massage should be enjoyable. If touch is painful to you, your massage therapist will work gently and slowly, depending on your body’s unique response. Be aware that any treatment, even massage, is another input for your overtaxed system. Even if you feel you need deep pressure, short and gentle sessions may be best, especially in the beginning. It could take several sessions to begin feeling the benefits, but with regular massage, many with fibromyalgia report substantial relief, both physical and emotional.

Meeting your individual needs

Your needs may change from one session to the next. Be prepared to convey information about your symptoms, changes in health and medications at each visit. It is also important to tell your primary health practitioner you are receiving massage.

Always tell your massage therapist what feels good and what does not. If you prefer, it’s possible to focus on just one area, such as your neck and shoulders, and enjoy relaxation extending throughout your body. Try to give accurate feedback about pressure or tenderness, as well as fatigue or discomfort after a session.

In addition to massage, you can support your healing by drinking plenty of water, eating well, getting adequate rest, and listening to your body’s warning signals when you need to slow down. You may benefit from a support group, or stress reduction counseling. You might also try meditation, yoga or acupuncture to reduce stress and increase energy.

Your return to good health

Over time, with the right combination of massage and other supportive measures, you can improve. You, like many others, can move toward pain relief, better sleep, easier movement and increased energy. On the journey, your massage therapist will be a skilled and caring partner in your return to good health.

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