May 12th is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. This year’s theme is “Your Voice Matters.” Fibromyalgia (FM) also known as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis, and fibrositis, is one of the most common chronic pain conditions. The disorder affects an estimated 10 million people in the US and an estimated 3 to 6 percent of the world population. While it occurs most often in women, it strikes men and children, and all ethnic backgrounds. For those with severe symptoms, FM can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.
FM is a complex pain disorder characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain, and stiffness; multiple soft tissue tender points; abnormal pain processing; general fatigue and sleep disturbances; and psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Many people with FM also experience additional symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bladder, cognitive and memory problems (often called “fibro fog”), temporomandibular joint disorder, pelvic pain, restless leg syndrome, and sensitivity to noise and temperature. These symptoms can vary in intensity and, like the pain of FM, wax and wane over time. There is no cure for FM at this time. Symptoms can be treated with medication; non-drug treatments; and complementary/alternative therapies such as aquatic therapy, Tai Chi, yoga, massage, myofascial release, acupressure, and acupuncture.
Massage Magazine recently posted and article, 5 Benefits of Massage for Fibromyalgia Patients. The article provides and overview on FM symptoms and the various types of massage that may be of benefit to FM patients (i.e. myofascial release, Swedish, and shiatsu). The article lists the benefits of therapeutic massage for FM as:
- Relaxation to improve sleep. By improving the quality of sleep this allows the body to repair and rejuvenate more effectively.
- Improved muscle tonicity. By aiding lethargic muscles this aids in restoring strength and vitality to the body.
- Improved mental clarity. As the body is more relaxed this can raise healthy awareness and relieve mental stress improving the individual’s cognitive issues.
- Headache relief. Massage improves blood flow to the brain that may relieve the physical source of a headache placing the individual’s mind into a healthier space.
- Diminishing the effects of anxiety and/or depression. Massage restores homeostasis to the body thereby diminishing and/or improving hormonal fluctuations, issues with appetite, and chronic flight-or-flight mode.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has also reported that certain types of massage have been shown to be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia. Anyone with FM or similar conditions should speak with their primary care provider before trying this or any other complementary or alternative therapy.
For more information on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and planned events/activities please visit http://tinyurl.com/gw9v28y. For more information and a resource guide to creating your local FM Awareness Event: NFMCPA Guide to Creating Local Fibromyalgia Awareness Events.