Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a widely misunderstood and mistreated condition that causes chronic pain, fatigue, and mental distress. Part of what we do here at Angel Healing Group is give our clients options to help alleviate the pain associated with this condition through therapeutic massage, often in coordination with other therapies. Let’s take a closer look at Fibromyalgia including the symptoms, causes and how the benefits of therapeutic massage can be a welcome relief for those living with this painful and often overlooked syndrome.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a central nervous system disorder resulting in abnormal pain processing. Most people suffering from this syndrome describe widespread muscle pain, tender point pain, extreme fatigue, morning muscle stiffness, headaches, sleep difficulties, anxiety and/or depression. In general, the symptoms resemble those of arthritis, but fibromyalgia affects the soft tissue, not the joints. The pain of this syndrome can range from mild to profound and is commonly described as having the flu all the time. To make matters worse, those living with Fibromyalgia often have dual diagnoses with other chronic conditions such as: chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), around 5 million adults aged 18 years or over in the U.S. experience the debilitating and chronic pain of Fibromyalgia. While men and children have been known to have the syndrome, more than 80 to 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are women in middle age. Given these statistics, it is obvious that those who live with Fibromyalgia are not alone, although they often feel as though they are because they suffer for weeks and even years with symptoms that are not outwardly obvious.
Cause and Treatment Options
Although the cause of this syndrome is unknown, specialists in Fibromyalgia report in Medical News Today that risk factors include traumatic injury, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, and genetic factors. Recently, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) issued a recommendation against using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat fibromyalgia in their updated 2016 guidelines. Other drugs have been tested to ease mental distress and the widespread pain associated with the syndrome. Antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs may help reduce pain. Unfortunately, further review has recommended that patients often stop using these drugs because they are not effective in relieving pain or because of their adverse effects. NIAMS puts forward a three-pronged treatment option for Fibromyalgia. It includes: traditional prescriptions to help with pain, lifestyle modifications, and complementary therapies such as therapeutic massage.
The Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
For many people living with the pain of Fibromyalgia, traditional medicines have not been able to provide any relief. Complementary therapies such as therapeutic massage may hold the key for help with the pain, fatigue, headaches, mood, and muscle stiffness. Recent studies completed at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Touch Research Institute examined the benefits of Therapeutic Massage for those with Fibromyalgia. The report concluded that massage therapy provided the following benefits: increased serotonin levels, decreased circulating stress hormones, decreased levels of substance P (basically a pain messenger), decreased tender point pain, improved sleep patterns, and an improved overall sense of well-being. The principal investigators stated that massage therapy is a clinically significant complementary treatment for Fibromyalgia. In addition to this study, the National Institutes of Health also recommends supporting treatments such as therapeutic massage.
The benefits of therapeutic massage include:
- Improved sleep patterns that allow for the body to begin to restore itself during a restful night’s sleep.
- Improved circulation can alleviate headaches with better blood flow and nutrients to the brain.
- Improved range of motion in joints and increased production of the body’s natural painkillers.
- Improved muscle tone for those muscle groups that have become lethargic due to pain.
- Improved mental clarity while relaxing muscle groups.
- Improved mood due to the release of natural endorphins during the massage.
If you have questions about our therapeutic massage services, contact Angel Healing Group today. If you are homebound, we can also come to you if you’re in the Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk counties. Learn more about how this process can help you, by visiting our website and contacting us.
- National Institute of Health National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
- National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association (NFCPA.) “Massage for Fibromyalgia: A Therapist’s Point of View.”
- Medical News Today. What You Need to Know About Fibromyalgia.