What is Fibromyalgia?
The Australian Collaboration Project for Fibromyalgia defines fibromyalgia as
‘long standing widespread body pain involving the muscles, ligaments, tendons and surrounding structures without any obvious tissue damage’.
For diagnostic purposes, at least 11 of 18 pairs of specific tender points throughout the body are also identified – these points cluster around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee and elbow areas.
What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of Fibromyalgia will be different for different people, but generally one of the more may be experienced:
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- Widespread pain throughout the body, including at the specific
- 18 tender points, but also variably in muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints
- Restless leg syndrome and muscle cramps
- Fatigue and non-restorative sleep
- Headaches and migraines
- Mood and cognitive issues including anxiety, depression, dizziness
- Other systemic problems that can hit the digestive, urinary, immune & reproductive systems
- Swelling and oedema in the extremities
- Sensitivities to light, sound and smells
Massage as a Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Massage treatments for one living with Fibromyalgia aim to work not only on physical symptoms, but also on the emotional effects. Stress and anxiety levels can be reduced, as can feelings of depression and length and/or quality of sleep can be increased. Physically, muscle aches and pains can be treated, with the added benefits of reducing subsequent symptoms such as headaches.
Massage treatments for sufferers of Fibromyalgia can include:
- Diaphragmatic breathing exercises to enhance a state of relaxation and to assist with pain relief. Correct deep breathing techniques can also help to correct muscular dysfunction
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage can help boost the immune system, helping the body recover more quickly from infections and speed up removal of toxins. It is also extremely beneficial in treating swelling of the extremities and oedema.
- Gentle assisted stretching and mobilisation to increase/maintain good range of motion in joints effected by muscle tension and sensitivity, especially around the neck area
- Soothing Swedish Massage techniques to relax the muscles and decrease pain levels
- Deeper massage techniques can be used to reduce tenderness caused by ‘knots’ and painful muscle contraction
- Hydrotherapy (either heat or cold) may be used to relax and warm the muscles, or cool areas of acute tenderness
- Aromatherapy – essential oils can assist in the relief of pain and in relaxation and calming of the mind and body, specifically chamomile, lavender, marjoram and rosemary.
Who do I see?
Mafalda is one of our Remedial Massage Therapists, and has specific knowledge of the issues that go along with dealing with Fibromyalgia from a pain management perspective – from the recognition of the specific tender points throughout the body that help to set Fibromyalgia apart from other pain conditions, through to the need to balance treatments between addressing key areas of pain while working within very changeable pain thresholds with each client.
How Many Sessions Do I Need?
It’s hard to say exactly how many sessions you will need – some people feel the benefits from the first 1 or 2 treatments, others find that it takes 3 or 4 sessions to make a more noticeable difference. Experience has shown however, that a longer-term management and maintenance plan is required to achieve more stable and lasting effects throughout the body.