Massage for Fibromyalgia

If you have chronic pain and tenderness throughout your body, combined with fatigue and trouble sleeping, and if blood tests reveal no other cause, you may have fibromyalgia. It affects 2% to 5% of the adult population, and conventional medical science offers so little help for it that 90% of patients have sought alternative therapies. One of those alternative therapies is massage, and the research has been quite positive. Clearly massage is useful for fibromyalgia (FM), at least in terms of managing symptoms.

A Disorder with No Cure

The truth is there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, and the only treatments on offer (both conventional and alternative) consist of managing symptoms. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “studies show that people with the disorder have a heightened sensitivity to pain, so they feel pain when others do not.  Brain imaging studies and other research have uncovered evidence of altered signaling in neural pathways that transmit and receive pain in people with fibromyalgia. These changes may also contribute to the fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems that many people with the disorder experience.”
A 2014 report on randomized clinical trials of massage for fibromyalgia offered a good news/bad news conclusion. “[M]assage therapy with duration ≥5 weeks significantly improved pain, anxiety, and depression in patients with FM, but not on sleep disturbance.” (Note: I have omitted the parenthetical statistical evidence in that quotation.)

Massage for Fibromyalgia

If you have fibromyalgia, you need to take an active role in managing it. That means finding a doctor who is well-informed on it (and who takes it seriously). And there are lots of resources on the web for advice and support. Start with the International Support Fibromyalgia Network, which calls itself Support Fibro. Support Fibro runs educational and support programs for patients and medical providers as well as advocacy programs. 
If you live with fibromyalgia, you are probably aware that one of the disorder’s hallmarks is hypersensitivity. This makes massage therapy a complicated proposition, as pressure on soft tissues is much of what massage is about. But since massage for fibromyalgia has been backed by so much research, it is clear that massage therapists know how to navigate this complication.
The implication for you, the client, is simple: be clear in communicating about your condition and in your body’s reaction to the therapist’s touch. If you decide to use Peak Recovery & Health Center’s massage service, we will make sure this communication takes place.

Massage at Peak

When you arrive for your first massage session, your therapist will complete a private and confidential intake with you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your goals and needs for having a massage. Be sure to tell him or her about your fibromyalgia. Then relax in the knowledge you’re in good hands. But don’t hesitate to speak up during the session if you find the pressure uncomfortable or if anything seems amiss. With good communication and a well-trained therapist, the massage will relieve your pain, not aggravate it.
You should feel at least a little better immediately after the first session. But remember the research shows that the well-documented benefits result from long-term therapy. We support this with package deals and even memberships. You don’t need to live in chronic pain. With regular massage sessions at Peak, you won’t have to.

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