What is Fibromyalgia
According to Wikipedia, Fibromyalgia, meaning muscle and connective tissue pain is a disorder classified by the presence of chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to gentle touch. Other core features of the disorder include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness.
People affected by the disorder frequently experience a multitude of other symptoms that involve many body systems including swallowing difficulty, bowel and bladder problems, breathing difficulty, sensations of numbness and tingling, abnormal motor activity, and cognitive dysfunction. They tend to experience anxiety often times. Not all people who suffer from Fibromyalgia Syndrome experience all the symptoms explained here, but I think it is safe to say all experience muscle and joint pain.
Fibromyalgia is considered a controversial diagnosis and is considered by some to be a “non-disease” with studies unable to confirm the diagnosis. At times, people are told the condition is “all in their head.” Doctors who do recognize this condition treat this condition by reducing symptoms, including medications, patient education, exercise and behavioral suggestions.
Remedial Massage Techniques
Since the condition is different from one person suffering from this disease to the next, no two people handle treatment from massage the same.
An interesting fact is that this disease affects women more than men. Of all who suffer from this condition, an estimated 80% to 90% is female. An Estimated 3 to 6 million women, men and children are affected today.
I have found that some experience such a sensitivity to touch that even the lightest pressure on the skin about takes them right off the massage table. There are a couple of options when sensitivity is so extreme. One is an extremely light effleurage technique with very light pressure. Working into the joints where a client will allow. The second option is to use non-invasive modalities such as healing touch or reiki in an effort to give the client relief from the extreme pain.
Clients suffering from this condition that will allow you to touch them with any pressure will benefit greatly from massage. Stress and anxiety seems to be a contributing factor to this disease. Movement tends to be difficult with decreased range of motion and constant sore muscles. Joint stiffness, sleep disorder, and digestive problems … all of this can be addressed with remedial massage techniques.
A suggestion when treating people affected by this debilitative disease is to combine light effleurage, Swedish massage, aromatherapy, acupressure, reflexology, trigger point, and possibly hot stone massage along with reiki or healing touch. Communication with your client is the key. If your client is able to do two sessions a week, most will experience positive results. The first sessions may very well worsen the pain in the client and this should be discussed so they will be aware of this increased pain.
Studies have shown very positive results with repeated massage sessions over a period of time with people suffering from this condition.