Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or massage therapist, this post is based on my almost 9 years of experience as a patient with Fibromyalgia. As always consult your doctor before beginning any new treatment or regimen.
Today I thought I would talk to you about Massage for Fibromyalgia. Over the last nine years I have battled widespread pain, headaches, TMJ, and insomnia on a fairly regular basis. Besides a daily regimen of medication and supplements, I also receive chiropractic care and massage therapy to cope with these severe symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
Although research for Fibromyalgia is sparse there is plenty of both scientific and antidotal evidence to encourage Fibromyalgia patients to try massage. It not only can address the pain but also sleep disturbances and mood issues that are so common with the Fibromyalgia patient.
Some people have said to me “I wish I could receive massages, but they aggravate or flare my symptoms.” This may be the case for you, you may never receive the relief others have through massage therapy, but maybe these tips can help you receive the care you need to feel better. I will encourage any one suffering from pain and fatigue to seek out the right massage therapist for you and give it a shot.
There are many types of massage therapy and a variety of different ways to receive a massage. If you are unfamiliar with massage therapy or have had a negative experience previously I’d like to give you a bit of advice on finding a good experience.
First, take your time finding a massage therapist, don’t just google massage in your city and make an appointment with the first place that pops up. There are many places where you can receive a massage and sometimes even your insurance may cover a portion of the service. You can receive massage through a chiropractors office, a sports medicine facility, a spa, and also through independent therapists that may run their own studio.
When researching therapists in your area look for words like Swedish massage, relaxation, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release. These are all light to medium pressure techniques that are less likely to cause a Fibromyalgia flare as techniques like deep tissue, or sports massage.
But don’t just assume a therapist will automatically know how to treat your Fibromyalgia because they do these types of therapy. Sit down and have a consult with a potential massage therapist before getting on the table. Address your concerns about your pain level, list your symptoms, and let a new therapist know your expectations for a session.
For example, I have a membership to a spa that hires many therapists and I have seen several over the years. When I meet with a new to me therapist I inform them of my Fibromyalgia and migraines, even though it’s in my record and they most likely have reviewed it before meeting me, I like the information to be fresh in their mind. I also tell them that my lower back and arms are very sensitive. A pressure that may feel wonderful on my neck or shoulders may cause some serious pain on my arms.
Next, get comfortable. When I get a massage I strip down to my underpants, but if that makes you uncomfortable, don’t. Also make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, do you need a fan on, or is your table heated. I personally love a heated table. If you are in a spa this will be more likely than if you are receiving a massage through a medical office.
Speak up! Say you talked with your therapist before the massage started but half way through you feel that the pressure is too deep, or they are hitting a particular sensitive spot in your leg. Tell them! Don’t suffer through, this is more likely to make you flare and you are less likely to return, thus not receiving the awesome benefits of regular massage.
Afterwards be sure to drink plenty of water! Massage is known to work with the lymph system to remove toxins from your body, and although it will do this all on it’s own water will help with the process, and who wants to be dehydrated?!
Also, don’t forget to tip! If you are in a spa environment the therapists most likely rely on tips as part of their income. Not sure about a tipping policy where you are receiving a massage, just ask? The staff will be more than happy to help you with your questions.
If you’ve never received a massage before chances are you are going to be slightly sore afterwards, even with the lightest of pressure. Your muscles have been worked in a way that they aren’t familiar with. Hopefully in the long run this will be beneficial for you. If I hurt post massage I will often ice to reduce inflammation or heat to facilitate muscle function and healing.
If all goes well you will be feel improvement after your massage. Your headaches may be less, and hopefully your sleep will improve. Ideally I like to get a massage every two weeks. However cost may hinder you from doing the same. Ask your therapist if there are any specials or packages you can purchase to reduce your out of pockets expenses, plus if you are super lucky your health insurance may help out.
I hope these tips will help you feel comfortable enough to try massage therapy for your Fibromyalgia. If you’ve had a negative experience maybe you can give it another shot with a little bit more information.
Do you already receive massage for Fibromyalgia? Do you have any of your own tips for a positive massage experience? Let me know in the comments!