Fibromyalgia sucks the life out of sufferers…
Fibromyalgia is a difficult and chronic condition that can severely reduce quality of life for sufferers. Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the whole body, varying from sharp and shooting to enduring deep boned aching, which can occur at any time. Painful areas can develop in the soft tissue around the joints known as tenderpoints.
Unfortunately Fibromyalgia is an enduring condition; the pain and symptoms need to be managed rather than cured. Whilst pain relief is available widespread through prescription medications, these can cause their own problems in addition to the condition itself.
Sufferers often seek alternative ways to manage this condition and increasingly are turning to more natural and healthier ways to do so. Therapeutic massage can provide an excellent means of pain management, and for good reason.
The complex range of symptoms manifesting in the body, as well as its negative impact on the mind and emotions can be addressed and improved upon uniquely through the one healing medium of massage therapy. Massage is natural so has none of the nasty side effects that medication can present and which can become problematic to manage in their own right.
The Holy Grail of Sleep…
A further significant feature of this condition is the overwhelming and debilitating fatigue experienced by sufferers, thought to be due to the impact of lack of appropriate and sufficient sleep.
Sleep can be something of a holy grail for those with the condition as they often find it difficult to get to sleep and can also be kept awake throughout the night because of the pain. Because of these irregular sleeping patterns, they can often miss the phase of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement) which is crucial for good health and wellbeing.
It is during this stage of sleep that the body strengthens the immune system, repairs and restores tissues and builds bone and muscle. This phase of sleep is also integral to the process of balancing our mood, and the cognitive processes of storing memories and learning.
Without this phase of sleep, sufferers are prone to headaches and brain fog - mental confusion afflicting memory and cognitive understanding. The body’s immune system can become and/or remain weak and the body heals from injury and sickness less effectively and efficiently.
This lack of vital sleep may be one of the key contributors to the perpetuation of symptoms, not least the relentless continuation of pain. A vicious cycle is set in motion. Pain deprives sufferers of sleep which perpetuates the pain…. Sleep deprivation is also known to increase the levels of proteins that initiate and sustain chronic pain. So there is scant relief from pain for sufferers.
Getting a good night’s sleep can offer one significant contribution to breaking the cycle of the distressing impact of its absence and to giving the sufferer’s mind and body a break from the chronic pain. This might offer a glimmer of hope to improving symptoms.
And yet more symptoms….
Further symptoms can include IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), headaches and poor circulation resulting in tingling and numbness.
A high proportion of sufferers are likely to be managing co-morbidities such as lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, not to mention significant adverse mental health conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety.
Manage Fibromyalgia without medication…
Massage can provide blessed relief from the physical pain endured by sufferers. Sufferers are sensitive to physical pressure, and as pain receptors are located at the surface of the skin, sufferers can benefit from the soothing, nurturing, healing touch afforded by massage. The message is conveyed from the skin receptors to the brain that this touch is positive, therapeutic, feels good and so can break the cycle of pain so prevalent in Fibromyalgia.
It is thought that Substance P, a brain chemical that stimulates pain receptors in the body, is overactive in Fibromyalgia sufferers and so these elevated levels may greatly increase the perception of pain. Massage is thought to reduce levels of Substance P, and thus afford pain relief.
The breath and heart rate slow down and blood pressure lowers during massage, thus inducing instant deep relaxation in the body.
Exercise can prove difficult for sufferers, the disadvantage being muscles lose their tone and efficacy and joints can become stiff. Massage can include mobilisation of the joints, thus improving flexibility and increasing their range of movement. Muscles and soft tissues are stretched out and tension is eased whilst muscle tone is enhanced. Tenderpoints are prevalent in sufferers - localised areas of pain around the joints known to be particularly painful and this pain can be relieved through massage.
Improved blood circulation removes toxins whilst providing all parts of the body with freshly oxygenated and nutrient rich blood. This improved blood flow offers further numerous benefits; it can relieve the physical cause of headaches, reduce the numbness and tingling of limbs, and reduce inflammation, a major cause of pain. Improved lymph flow also plays its role in transporting white blood cells to the body more efficiently, thus improving the body’s immune system.
Cortisol, a hormone produced by the body to manage anxiety and stress can in turn perpetuate anxiety and stress when the body is under constant stress. Massage removes this from the body effectively, whilst endorphins, the feel good chemicals, are stimulated through massage. These natural painkillers can afford the sufferer both instant pain relief as well as an elevated sense of wellbeing and bring about clarity and peace of mind.
There is scientific evidence that massage therapy can reduce pain and improve healing. These physical improvements impact positively on the brain to enhance one’s mood and sense of wellbeing. Massage works positively on all the systems of the body and so brings the body into balance. Soothing, therapeutic touch breaks the cycle of pain and replaces pain producing chemicals with pleasure giving ones. As such massage therapy can provide an excellent alternative to managing the difficult symptoms of Fibromyalgia whilst sparing sufferers from the additional burden of prescribed medication.