Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which a person suffers from not only pain and hypersensitivity throughout the body, but also fatigue. Let’s start with breaking down the word definition.  (Fibro) meaning relation to fibrous (soft tissue; i.e. not bone)  tissue within the body; (Myalgia)  relating to pain all over the body symptoms.  Fibromyalgia affects soft tissue including joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, is a long term condition and may result in depression due to lack of mobility, pain, and self esteem issues as a result.

What causes fibromyalgia is still unknown but there are many known triggers:

  • Viral Infection
  • Irregular or inadequate sleep
  • Physical or emotional stress

Many Fibromyalgia sufferers also experience something called an abnormal pain response. This is when the parts of your brain equipped for processing pain react differently than someone not suffering from Fibromyalgia. What this means basically is that someone with Fibromyalgia feels pain where someone without the condition most likely wouldn’t.

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed most frequently in women between the ages of 20 to 50 and has some very specific symptomatic risk factors.

  • Disrupted sleep cycles
  • Depression
  • Lyme Disease and other unknown viral infections.
  • A traumatic experience of either an emotional or physical nature

Some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • Chronic neck pain
  • Chronic back pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • An underactive Thyroid gland
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Trigger Point ChartThe formation of painful trigger points at certain points of the body’s soft tissue is also part of the diagnosis. These trigger points appear at the elbows, knees, upper gluteus maximus, hips, back, shoulders and neck. This chart illustrates where the most common trigger points appear with fibromyalgia sufferers. It is from these trigger points that the associated pain radiates.

 

These trigger points are the source of much of the pain associated with Fibromyalgia and are easily treated with Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger point pain is usually deep and is often associated with a burning pain.
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What interests me as a massage therapist in the subject of Fibromyalgia is the effect Massage Therapy when implementing Trigger Point Therapy has on the symptoms of the condition. Treating Trigger Point pain is something that we as massage therapists are ideally equipped to treat. Trigger Point Therapy applied to the affected areas can not only diminish or eliminate the pain in the area of the trigger point but also in the areas the trigger point causes our nervous system to make pain appear in a seemingly non connected area of the body. This experience of pain in an area distant from the trigger point itself is called a referral pain.

An example of referral pain is a trigger point in the area of the neck that causes pain behind the eyes.

As a massage Therapist some aspects of massaging someone with fibromyalgia seem almost universal and some aspects of Fibromyalgia sufferers stand out in our experience.  A “normal” muscle that recieves moderate exercise, stretches, massage, or anything that promotes movement of that muscle will feel taut (not necessarily tight) and textured.  With Fibromyalgia,  the muscles are less defined, not as tight, and flexibility is actually greater than average because the muscles extend more than stretch, pain hypersensitivity is present and widespread.

The 2 of Us Massage is here to help you treat your Fibromyalgia symptoms. To find out if Trigger Point Therapy or Massage Therapy are right for you click here to schedule an appointment at our Greensburg studio or if you have any questions feel free to send us an email in the form here.

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