These are the characteristics of Fibromyalgia: migrating, widespread pain affecting muscles, joints and connective tissues, chronic headaches, impaired immune function, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and disrupted (non-restful) sleep. Symptoms can last for weeks, months and in many case years. Unsurprisingly, many Fibromyalgia sufferers also grabble with depression. A medical diagnosis of FMS (similarly with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is usually arrived at by a process of elimination. When all other possibilities have been exhausted, Fibromyalgia is what is left.
No one yet knows exactly what causes FMS. Case histories have shown that the majority of sufferers have had a triggering event such as the physical shock of a car accident. Other common triggers are psychological trauma and viral infections. Sleep disturbances and hormonal imbalances can also play a part. According to the Annapolis Center for Effective CFS/Fibromyalgia Therapies in Maryland, FMS cannot be pinned down to just one cause.
This can be very confusing and frustrating for the patient. Particularly as it means doctors are often unable to offer them a treatment plan.
What does seem to help is a regime of bodywork, exercise, proper nutrition and rest. Specifically, properly performed massage therapy. I use italics because it is critical to listen and appropriately respond to the client with Fibromyalgia. Sometimes a client will feel the pressure can’t get deep enough, other times the lightest touch will bring agony.
Working with Fibromyalgia is a special love of mine. In my practice, I use a combination of massage and movement. I have found myofascial release to be very effective in the treatment of FMS. This is a subtle and less forceful approach that enables me to work deeply into the connective tissue and musculature with minimal discomfort for the client. In those instances or in areas where the any manipulation is too much, I use Reiki techniques (light holds which bring healing energy). Clients report that this gives them feelings of calm and a sense of release. Some have stated they felt a relief from the emotional anguish resulting from chronic pain.
Many studies confirm that an exercise routine is absolutely required for Fibromyalgia sufferers. As I am also a certified yoga instructor, I have worked with many clients to create yoga classes that are specific to their needs. How vigorous or restorative the sequence depends entirely upon the individual. My goal is to help them establish a practice that they can do at home. It has certainly proven to be helpful not only with pain management, but depression as well. Improvements in flexibility and balance helped one particular woman feel “less disabled”.
Something I also like to suggest for those who are unsure of their mobility is a Thai Yoga Massage. These sessions are performed on a thick floor mat. The client is passive while I stretch and massage their limbs, gently moving them through modified yoga postures. Pillows and props are used to stabilize and support. This is an especially good way to get a read on one’s flexibility. Most are pleasantly surprised at how much flexibility they actually have!
The key to the success of any of these therapies is consistency. It takes more than just one or two sessions. Bodywork, as part of a healthy lifestyle, is reported to be the top therapy for providing short-term relief and long-term improvement of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
Further information on any modality listed above is available at www.innerconnect.biz or at my personal site www.bodysattvatherapies.net. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 614-561-6867.
To Your Health!
Tara Hedges, LMT, RYT