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.