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 or more of the following 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
What causes Fibromyalgia?
There is no known or proven cause for Fibromyalgia. However, it has been found to be more common in people with auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; those recently affected by a virus or infection; people with mental illness or those experiencing stress; individuals whose family has a history of Fibromyalgia; or those recovering from injury.
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.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment for Fibromyalgia
Some sufferers of Fibromyalgia may find relief from their symptoms with the assistance of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
According to Chinese Medicine, individuals experience health and vitality when the pathways in their body through which their energy flows (known as their ‘meridians’), are fully functioning.
Adherents of Chinese Medicine believe Fibromyalgia is a muscle impediment, caused by blockages in the pathways, which result in the body’s Qi, or energy, not being able to flow freely, therefore resulting in disharmony and pain.
There are several environmental factors that Chinese Medicine practitioners believe cause Fibromyalgia: wind, cold and dampness. When these ‘pathogens’ penetrate the body, they affect the body’s muscles, joints and tendons, causing stiffness and pain.
Practitioners also believe that certain disharmonies in the body can predispose an individual to Fibromyalgia including: poor nutrition, lack of exercise, poor sleeping habits and stress.
The prevalence of the wind, cold or dampness pathogens then determine the individual’s treatment journey, which can include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, as well as recommendations for a healthier lifestyle.
Our doctor of Chinese Medicine will perform a thorough medical and lifestyle assessment to identify the underlying factors causing the blockages in your meridians.
As everyone experiences different symptoms of Fibromyalgia, no two treatment plans are the same, and yours will be tailored to relieve your symptoms and to eliminate the pathogens from your body.
Who do I see?
Mafalda Bojanic 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.
Mafalda is a fully qualified Remedial Therapist and her treatments can be claimed under private health insurance (Extras) cover.
For treatment of Fibromyalgia through traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, book an appointment with Andrew Chambers, our resident Chinese medicine physician. Andrew Chambers takes a holistic approach to the treatment of pain and disease, and can assist you to achieve physical and emotional balance through his gentle and effective therapies. He specialises in a range of conditions, including musculoskeletal injury, hormonal disorders and emotional conditions.
For naturopathic treatment of Fibromyalgia, book with any of our experienced naturopaths: Daniel Cerny, Lina Capovilla, Julia D’Angelo and Shiho Mafune.
For massage treatment for Fibromyalgia, book with our experienced massage therapists Mafalda Bojanic or Madelaine Akras.
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.
Make an appointment for Fibromyalgia treatment today
Your first step on the road to recovery is only an appointment away. Our clinic in Blackburn, Melbourne, is open six days a week. Phone us on (03) 9894 0014 and speak to one of our fantastic team members today.