May 12 is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day
Although fibromyalgia research has made important strides, the medical community has yet to fully understand the mechanism of this condition. Without a cure, living with this chronic pain disorder is limited to management. The complementary medicine community has options to offer, and massage in particular has emerged as an effective tool to ease pain and related symptoms.
Because fibromyalgia includes central nervous system sensitization, in which nerves overreact to normal stimuli and interpret them as pain, any new massage program should be approached with care. It is advisable to begin with a 30-minute session with lighter pressure, and then gauge how the muscles respond and build an appropriate individualized program.
Each person diagnosed with fibromyalgia has a different set of concerns, goals and needs that will change over time. It has been generally found that some combination of myofascial release, trigger point/neuromuscular therapy and relaxation massage helps people reduce their pain and improve their ability to engage in daily activities.
Myofascial release focuses on loosening taut fascia, or connective tissue, surrounding the muscles. Trigger points, or tender knots, send pain signals to other areas of the body. Massage therapy addresses these sensitive nodules best with light- to deep-pressure methods. Relaxation massage soothes stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression and can also serve as an alternative when more aggressive massage leads to flare-ups.
An experienced therapeutic massage specialist can help find the techniques and program that will work for each client. Many therapists attend continuing education classes designed to address the needs of those with fibromyalgia.
Kristina Page is a certified massage therapist and owner of Nimbus Massage. For more information, visit NimbusMassage.com.