Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Therapeutic Massage for Fibro Relief

My physician has prescribed therapeutic massage (TM) for pain and stress relief for my fibro.  While TM isn’t covered by my regular health insurance, thankfully I get can reimbursed through my health care spending account.  Therapeutic massage has been helpful for easing my pain and stiffness symptoms. 

It is important to that you select your massage therapist carefully. It’s not a good idea to just browse the Yellow Pages. Use state licensing websites or national certification web sites to search for a certified therapist in your area. A helpful website is www.NCBTMB.com, where you can locate a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist in your zip code. Once you have identified a therapist, call for an interview. Ask for credentials and extent of experience working with fibromyalgia patients. Remember, although massage is very beneficial, it can be a painful experience for a fibromyalgia patient if not properly performed.

A first-rate MT will understand your daily and seasonal fibro changes. For example, when the summer begins I sometimes experience an increase in tender-point pain. Maybe associated with air conditioning and artificially cold environments. Sometimes when a storm front goes through, I often have upper neck pain and migraines. In winter, I could have a "fibro flares," meaning general fatigue, and overall flu-like pain with mild depression. Generally, a good therapeutic massage will help to decrease these symptoms.

Your goal in getting massage therapy is mainly pain relief and mobility improvement. You need to keep your MT informed during your massage of what is hurting, if their technique is causing pain, etc.  I find that varied type of massage works best (but I stay away from some intense types such as deep tissue massage). This combines trigger point therapy and myofacial release techniques with relaxation techniques—in other words, long soothing strokes with mild rocking; then when (and IF) the muscles are warm, a deeper pressure with deeper friction strokes over the knots to break down the fibers, release the toxins, and reduce the pain they create.   I only allow this is I can tolerate the pressure/pain.

In studies regarding the benefits of massage therapy, it was concluded that MT provides: increased serotonin levels, decreased circulating stress hormones, decreased levels of substance P (basically a pain messenger), decreased tender point pain, improved sleep patterns, and improved overall sense of well-being.

I vary the number of times each month that I visit my MT based my symptoms and the time of year.  I go more often in the winter than in the summer and more often when I am having a fibro flare up.  My usual schedule is twice a month, but I will increase it to every week for a short period when I need it (I wish I had the finances available to go every week all the time!).  It can be costly but the benefits have been well worth it. Hopefully, you will get some benefit from it too!

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