Fibromyalgia is a long term condition that causes pain in all areas of the body. There is no known cause of fibromyalgia however it has been shown it develops due too much of certain chemicals in the brain which causes the central nervous system to process pain signals differently. Some factors that can trigger it include injury, infection, surgery and child birth. Fibromyalgia is more commonly seen in women and mainly develops between the ages of 30 and 50 however it can develop at any age.
Fibromyalgia has an array of symptoms including;
- Achy, burning or sharp pains
- Increased stiffness
- Frequent headaches
There are also a range of negative effects that develop as a result of fibromyalgia. The most common negative effects include;
- Restless leg syndrome
- Anxiety or depression
- Difficultly sleeping
- Increased pain levels
How can massage help fibromyalgia?
Here at massage.physio.co.uk, our therapists often use massage to treat those suffering from fibromyalgia. The most common ways a massage for fibromyalgia can help include;
- Reduced stiffness
- Increased relaxation
The benefits most commonly gained through massage for fibromyalgia include reduced stiffness, increased relaxation and decreased pain.
A massage can help to reduce stiffness by increasing temperature of soft tissues and joints. During a massage, friction is created between the skin and fingers which encourages an increase in blood flow. An increase in blood flow causes temperature of soft tissues and joints to increase. Increasing temperature relieves muscles tightness and tension whilst also making joints looser and more flexible. Reducing tightness and increasing flexibility at joints contributes to a reduction in stiffness.
Relaxation is improved though both decreased tension and increased circulation of positive hormones. Tension can increase due to a lack of movement or stress which often occurs in those with fibromyalgia. Tension can increase pain and further restrict movement. Reducing tension increases relaxation of muscles and helps to reduce stress therefore increasing physical relaxation. Positive hormones include endorphins, serotonin and dopamine and are also known as your feel good hormones. These hormones help to increase positivity, increase motivation. A lack of positive hormones can cause an increase in anxiety, stress and depression. A study by Sunshine et al shows that massage therapy for those suffering with fibromyalgia, helped to lower anxiety and depression as well as lower cortisol levels. Reducing anxiety and depression and lowering cortisol levels helps to improve mental relaxation.
As a whole, massage is proven to have a great positive impact on those suffering with fibromyalgia. The overall benefits gained through massage include;
- Increased range of movement
- Reduced anxiety or depression
- Relieved stress
- Decreased muscle tightness
- Improved sleeping pattern
How can I arrange a massage for fibromyalgia?
Sunshine, W., Field, T.M., Quintino, O., Fierro, K., Kuhn, C., Burman, I. & Schanberg, S. (1996). Fibromyalgia benefits from massage therapy and transcutaneous electrical stimulation. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 2, 18-22.