Increasingly I am seeing more and more fibromyalgia patients on my massage table. Often, they are apprehensive about massage because they have been in pain for so long and are tired of being in pain. So, what is fibromyalgia?
According to Medical News Today, fibromyalgia is associated as a rheumatic condition that causes soft tissue or myofascial pain. Fibromyalgia can cause pain, and fatigue and unfortunately there is no cure. However, there are methods to alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Medication is one route for fibromyalgia. If you want to do something that does not involve medication, studies have shown that massage, exercise, and acupuncture can relieve the pain symptoms while also improving the sleep quality. At Oahu Spine and Rehab we can provide massage, exercise (through physical therapy, and acupuncture as well as chiropractic care to alleviate symptoms.
As a massage therapist I have found that myofascial techniques have been the most successful for my patients that suffer from fibromyalgia. One of the techniques I use is skin rolling. This is where I pick up the skin between my thumb and index finger (almost like I am pinching) and I roll this tissue down the length of the spine. This technique is very effective in loosening the fascia in this area. It is by no means comfortable in the moment but when my patient returns the following week they report longer episodes of relief from their symptoms.
Another way that massage is successful in relieving symptoms of fibromyalgia is that it can lower anxiety levels. When we reduce the patient’s anxiety levels they have reported improvements in their sleep cycles which in turn reduces their fatigue throughout the day. This can in turn reduce symptoms of depression according to a 2014 study referenced in the AMTA Massage Therapy Journal.
As with any massage, if you have fibromyalgia it is important to communicate with your massage therapist on pressure to your liking, and if you are experiencing too much discomfort. It is also important to hydrate after your massage. Most importantly pay attention to your symptoms following the massage so that you can report back to your massage therapist so they can adjust their treatment accordingly.