Often first triggered after a major surgery, an infection, a physical trauma, or profound psychological stress, fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes significant musculoskeletal pain and other symptoms. For some people, the symptoms seem to come on over time with no connection to one single triggering event. The good news is, massage therapy can help; here’s how:
As a fibromyalgia sufferer, you regularly deal with pain. While massage therapy won’t completely eliminate your pain, it can help significantly reduce it and thus make your life more manageable. Massage therapists who are trained in fibromyalgia treatment understand how to ease their patients into a regimen. Your first few appointments will be very low-touch, and the focus will be on identifying your body’s comfort limits. You might find these first few sessions uncomfortable – not just physically, but mentally. Fibromyalgia sufferers are sensitive to touch, and unfamiliar hands on the most painful parts of your body may heighten your pain and anxiety. But as both your body and mind become comfortable with your massage therapist’s healing hands, your pain levels will reduce. After assessing your condition, your massage therapist will draft up a treatment plan so you will understand the steps of the journey. Your treatment plan may include additional remedies besides massage, such as aromatherapy, reflexology, and hot stone therapy. Keep an open mind and be sure to ask questions about any treatments you don’t understand.
Fibromyalgia comes with a host of additional symptoms: depression, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, weight gain, teeth grinding, and more. And on top of all of that, fibromyalgia sufferers deal with crippling anxiety brought on by the pain and other symptoms. Massage therapy helps reduce your anxiety by soothing your muscles and giving you a relaxing session where you can focus on yourself – not the world around you. As you continue your weekly sessions, anxiety will drop away not just in the sessions, but in your life.
Stiffness isn’t a symptom unique to fibromyalgia sufferers; almost every massage therapy client seeks treatment to reduce stiffness. But the stiffness associated with fibromyalgia is different than what other people feel, and a properly-trained massage therapist understands how to use massage techniques break down the calcium deposits caused by fibromyalgia. In addition to massage, you should remember to keep your hydration levels up (drink plenty of water) and take magnesium supplements to keep the calcium buildups in your joints from returning quickly.
Sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle. Without regular, deep sleep, your body suffers, your mind suffers, and your fibromyalgia symptoms increase. And those symptoms make achieving quality sleep even harder. You may find yourself spending more time in bed without ever achieving the deep sleep your body needs. Massage therapy reduces tension in your muscles. Along with reduced pain, anxiety and stiffness, you’ll find your nights are filled with productive and restful sleep.
Lowers dependency on medications
Most fibromyalgia sufferers are prescribed a cocktail of pain, depression, and anxiety medications to alleviate their symptoms. In many cases, these drugs help mask the symptoms enough to make life tolerable. But, masking symptoms won’t make them go away for good, and the side effects of medications can cause other problems – slower thinking, inability to drive, lowered sexual drive, acne, weight gain, and much more. There is a place for medication in fibromyalgia treatment, and you should not experiment with reducing your medications without close supervision of your primary caregiver. But you will likely find that after a few months of regular massage therapy, your symptoms will decrease naturally, and the drugs used to mask the problems can be reduced or eliminated. By lowering the medication levels and removing the additional side effects, you’ll achieve better clarity in your day to day life.
Improves your outlook on life
Living with pain, depression, anxiety, and the other symptoms of fibromyalgia takes a toll on every aspect of your life – relationships, family, your career, your hobbies, and your future. Treating your fibromyalgia with massage therapy will improve your personal life. As your symptoms recede through regular treatment, you’ll find yourself more willing to engage in social activities, and you’ll be less bothered by daily interactions with people around you. This often leads to a snowball effect – as you reduce pain and anxiety and improve your quality of sleep, you become more open to being around other people, you get out of the house more, you get more exercise and fresh air, and your general disposition improves. Many fibromyalgia sufferers find that even though their symptoms are exacerbated by lack of activity, the pain and anxiety they experience make it harder to remain active, which causes their symptoms to get worse. Massage therapy helps break that cycle and helps return you to a normal lifestyle.