Massages for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome that includes widespread pain in addition to anxiety, depression, difficulty with sleep, and trouble with mental tasks. Fibromyalgia suffers often seek complimentary and alternative (CAM) therapies for relief, in fact recent research has shown that up to 90% of individuals with fibromyalgia have used at least one form of CAM therapy. Fibromyalgia massage therapy is one type of CAM therapy and has been used by many fibromyalgia sufferers.
Fibromyalgia massage therapy is a generalized term for the kneading or rubbing of the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments to relieve pain or tension caused by fibromyalgia. A fibromyalgia massage may range from deep pressure to light stroking. There are many different types of massage therapy, and the following types, as described in the next section, have had recent research to support their effectiveness for fibromyalgia:
FIBROMYALGIA MASSAGE TECHNIQUES
The types of massage listed below have been shown to help with symptoms of fibromyalgia.
This type of fibromyalgia massage treats muscle pain and stiffness by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood flow, and stimulating something called the ‘stretch reflex’ in muscles. This approach was supported by the inventor of osteopathic medicine, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. This fibromyalgia massage technique can be active (patient provides resistance) or passive (patient stays relaxed).
Connective Tissue Massage:
This type of fibromyalgia massage uses slower strokes with more pressure to release deeper layers of muscle and fascia (connective tissue).
Manual lymphatic drainage:
This type of fibromyalgia massage is a gentle massage which is helps the natural drainage of ‘lymphatic fluid,’ which circulates through the body’s lymph system, helping to carry waste products away from the tissues and back toward the heart. This system works by movement of skeletal muscles and contraction of another type of muscle called ‘smooth muscle’ in the walls of lymph vessels to carry lymph fluid to the lymph nodes and then to lymph ducts and finally to the heart. This fibromyalgia massage uses rhythmic motions to get the lymph fluid moving. Another method to get lymph fluid moving is by stimulating the calf muscle pump (CMP). The CMP is the action of the calf (soleus muscle) squeezing and contracting to force blood and lymph upward to heart. This pump is sometimes called the ‘second heart.’ The CMP can also be activated by stimulating the front part of the feet (the plantar surface) using a new non-invasive device called the Hummingbird. The Hummingbird has been shown in clinical studies to significantly improve the wellbeing of individuals who suffer from symptoms of fibromyalgia.
This type of fibromyalgia massage involves applying pressure to specific points on the body in an attempt to relieve tension. According to this Japanese healing treatment, the points are located along energy pathways called meridians.
Keep reading below to review which fibromyalgia massage tools are the best for relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
SO WHICH IS THE BEST MASSAGE FOR FIBROMYALGIA?
A 2014 review of medical literature attempted to answer the question above.
This research revealed that myofascial release had a large, positive effect on pain and some positive effects on anxiety, depression, fatigue, quality of life and stiffness. Connective tissue massage was found to improved depression and quality of life, however, manual lymph drainage appeared to be more effective than connective tissue massage in regards to stiffness, depression and quality of life. Shiatsu was found to improve pain, pressure pain threshold, fatigue, sleep and quality of life.
Published research has shown that plantar stimulation with the Hummingbird as described above can significantly improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
WHEN THINKING ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA MASSAGE TREATMENTS
- Make sure your fibromyalgia massage therapist understands your condition and your symptoms
- If the fibromyalgia massage therapist is using too much pressure, be sure to ask for less pressure
- Make sure you tell your fibromyalgia massage therapist about any sensitivity to lotions or oils or have any allergies to any ingredients
- Ask about the therapist license and certifications.
- Remember that treatment for fibromyalgia often involves multiple techniques and approaches for symptom relief.
- Remember the Hummingbird has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.