• Danielle Slatter

Massage and Fibromyalgia

Before we go further, what is fibromyalgia?

FM is a rheumatic condition characterised by muscular and skeletal pain with stiffness and localised tenderness at specific points on the body. However, getting a diagnosis is difficult and sometimes only diagnosed when all other avenues have reached a dead end. The cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown.

Massage therapy for FM had a systematic review in 2014, it was found that over five weeks, massage had beneficial effects on improving pain, anxiety and depression in sufferers.

So how does massage help fibromyalgia?

One of the main symptoms of FM, is pain experienced throughout the entire body, tension headaches, fatigue, stiffness and sleep disorders. In 1990 researchers of the American College of Rheumatology identified 18 fibromyalgia pressure points, also known as tender points, that are still used to help diagnose patients with this condition today. People feel tension in their skeletal muscles and the connective muscle tissue of their bodies. This can activate pain receptors and results in chronic pain, which is frustrating, as it is pain that is often hard to explain and not caused by anything obvious, however, because there is no explanation, does not take away from the fact it is a very real, a heightened response, pointing to the fact that the central nervous system is in overdrive.

As a result, treating pain for fibromyalgia sufferers is difficult, as the root cause of what leads to experiencing symptoms, is often unknown.

The most widely acknowledged biochemical abnormality associated with fibromyalgia is abnormally low serotonin levels. Many studies have linked serotonin, a neurotransmitter, to sleep, pain perception, headaches and mood disorders. Lower than normal levels of serotonin have been observed in patients with fibromyalgia.

This lower level results in an increased likelihood of depression and mood swings, this also affects the ability to achieve quality rest, which prevents the body from being able to repair itself and can further increase the patient's depression and exhaust the body, mind and spirit.

Fibromyalgia has no cure, however, alongside conventional medicine, massage is well known to decrease stress hormones and increase serotonin levels and just calm everything down. It can bring a lot of benefits to fibromyalgia patients in terms of alleviating pain and discomfort associated with the condition. It reduces stress, helps relieve pain and releases endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. The key is getting the right kind of massage to help ease both the physical and mental effects of fibromyalgia.

I use a combination of techniques, including Sports, Remedial and Hot Stone massage to reduce the heart rate, improve flexibility and help the muscles become more pliable and able to relax.

To get the most from the massage, I need to understand how FM affects your body and create a treatment plan, along with massage and information to help you on your own between sessions.

Healing is a process and talking to me, sharing your experience of fibromyalgia can help to design a safe and effective treatment. Your experience of FM is unique and therefore so will your treatment plan.


Massage therapy for Fibromyalgia: A systematic review and Meta-Analysis Controlled Trials

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