Going for a massage may have been a luxury in the past, but this is changing. As the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia pain become increasingly clear, it is becoming widely recommended for patients. Read on to learn more about the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia, its history, and how you can get safe and effective massages for yourself.
Benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients
People living with fibromyalgia can also find significant relief with massage therapy. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain and persistent fatigue. Joint stiffness and sleep disturbances are also common with fibromyalgia. All these symptoms can be reduced significantly through regular massage.
In fact, studies have shown that individuals with fibromyalgia can experience lots of benefits from massage therapy, including:
- Increased serotonin levels
- Decreased stress hormones
- Decreased substance P levels
- Improved sleep
- Decreased pain at tender points
- Improved overall sense of well-being
The importance of touch (and massage) in human relationships cannot be overestimated. When we are infants, our first positive sensation after the shock of birth is the touch of loving hands. As children, we run to our loved ones for reassurance and care, or just for a goodnight cuddle. Too often as we get older, we lose the understanding of why touch matters every day. For pain patients, touch may even turn into something negative, with every fiber of the body screaming in pain at the slightest contact.
But here’s the thing: massage for fibromyalgia can help pain patients learn how to relax into positive, healing touch again.
History of massage for fibromyalgia relief
Massage may be one of the earliest forms of pain management. Chinese medical literature mentions the use of massage as long as 4,000 years ago, and it continues to be an important feature of traditional Chinese medicine. Additional ancient references to massage therapy occur in literature from Babylonia, India, Greece, and Rome.
One of the most well-known contemporary types, Swedish massage, was introduced to the United States in the 1850s. Many doctors in the United States were using massage techniques by the end of the 1900s, but the following rise in technology and prescriptions overshadowed this therapy. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when alternative therapies became popular again, that massage came to the public’s attention once more.
Now, there are dozens of different types of massage practiced. 125,000 therapists are practicing in the United States, and more than 80 million massage therapy appointments take place in this country each year.
Types of massage
Four of the most popular types of massage are Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, and hot stone.
Swedish massage is a combination of five different types of strokes. This type of massage is meant to encourage both relaxation and blood flow to the heart. It’s also good for loosening joints and reducing soreness.
Deep tissue is focused manipulation of deeper tissues and muscles. It’s designed to address severe soreness or tension in the muscles and tissues, but it can sometimes result in lingering soreness.
Shiatsu is a Japanese style of therapy that’s very popular in the United States. This style of massage is characterized by pressure on specific bodily points, utilizing continuous rhythmic motions.
A hot stone massage, as its name suggests, involves the use of hot stones. These stones provide soothing heat to help relax muscles and ease pain. The therapist will usually combine the use of hot stones with other hands-on techniques.
Other pain conditions treated by massage
Pain patients may avoid massage for fear that it will exacerbate pain, but the opposite is often true