Living with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is no short order. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) describes FMS as “an ordeal of pervasive, widespread and migratory pain and stiffness that strikes muscles and connective tissues, as well as tendons, ligaments, bursae and joints.” 4.8 million Americans have FMS, making the condition second only to osteoarthritis in most common joint diseases.
In addition to widespread pain, most people with FMS experience chronic headaches, allergies, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, hypoglycemia, nasal congestion, vasomotor rhinitis, and neurotransmitter dysregulation. Nearly all experience weariness, decreased endurance, and/or exhaustion. The cognitive difficulties common to people with FMS, including trouble concentrating, confusion, memory lapses, and word mix-ups, even have a name: “fibro fog.” Clearing away this fog—and managing the pain of FMS—can, for many who have the disease, seem insurmountable. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for FMS—and one of them feels really good.
The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) says, “Massage therapy can improve chronic pain and fibromyalgia symptoms,” because “deep relaxation reduces stress, pain, and muscle tension.” Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa of the AMTA agrees, concluding from his research, “Massage, properly performed, seems particularly helpful in treating fibromyalgia. Patients consistently report that they find bodywork to be the top therapy for providing short-term relief and long-term improvement.”
How can massage therapy be such a boon to patients with FMS? First, it increases the body’s circulation of blood and lymph. The circulatory system delivers essential nutrients to—and removes waste from—the body’s cells and tissues. FMS is often enabled by poor circulation, which prevents the body from nurturing painful areas. When this is the case, the underperformance of the body’s circulatory system stands in the way of its own healing! Massage overrides the body’s inclination to poor circulation by opening up the circulatory system and stimulating blood flow. The most precious cargo that the blood carries is oxygen: as oxygen is distributed more effectively throughout the body, muscles are nourished and stiffness and pain are reduced.
Second, the relaxation induced by massage therapy signals the brain to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. This increase in endorphins allows many FMS patients who participate in massage therapy to achieve a more restful night’s sleep. Instead of lying awake with discomfort or pain, these people are able to snag the shuteye that they need while their bodies continue on in the work of healing and restoration!
Third, massage therapy acts as a passive workout, as it widens range of movement in joints and lengthens muscles—even while you relax on the table! In this way, massage effectively supplements the regular exercise that is prescribed to patients with FMS.
Relieve your FMS with gentle, long-term massage therapy at Elements Massage Paradise Valley.* Begin the process of pain relief today: https://elementsmassage.com/paradise-valley/contact-info.
*Talk to your doctor about whether massage therapy is the right choice for you.
Massage Therapy as Beneficial Part of Integrative Treatment Plan for Fibromyalgia. (2012, October). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from https://www.amtamassage.org/approved_position_statements/Massage-Therapy-as-Beneficial-Part-of-Integrative-Treatment-Plan-for-Fibromyalgia.html
Muzio, S., RN, NCBTMB. (n.d.). Massage for Fibromyalgia: A Therapist's Point of View. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.fmcpaware.org/massage-for-fibromyalgia-a-therapist-s-point-of-view.html
Purkh Singh Khalsa, March 21, 2010, K. (2010, March 21). Easing the Constant Pain. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/1839
Tuchtan, V. (2015, February 18). Managing the pain of fibromyalgia with massage. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.sagemassage.edu.au/blog/managing-the-pain-of-fibromyalgia-with-massage/