Imagine living with chronic pain. Every day you wake up—after a night where you might not have gotten very much sleep—knowing that your day will involve pain, most often in several areas of your body.
Then, add in the depression and anxiety that often accompanies having to deal with chronic pain and what you have is this: a peek at what it's like for someone who suffers from fibromyalgia or chronic myofascial pain syndrome (CMPS)
Though the causes of fibromyalgia and CMPS are unclear, what we are starting to better understand is how massage therapy can help people with these conditions better manage their pain.
This condition is usually diagnosed when a minimum of 11 out of 18 tender points are active with pain to the touch. The areas where pain is most common amongst patients include the neck and lower back.
Additional symptoms include recurrent feelings of exhaustion, musculoskeletal pain and a tingling or prickling feeling known as parathesia, which is similar to that of pins and needles and mainly caused by pressure or damage to the peripheral nerves. Generally speaking, too, fibromyalgia sufferers often have acute, superficial tender points.
Common sources of chronic pain include injuries, headaches, backaches, joint pains due to an arthritis condition, sinus pain, tendinitis, or overuse injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Chronic pain is also a feature of many types of advanced cancers.A number of symptoms can accompany chronic pain and can even arise as a direct result of the pain. These can include insomnia or poor quality sleep, irritability, depression mood changes, anxiety, fatigue, and loss of interest in daily activities. Pain can trigger muscle spasms that can lead to soreness or stiffness.
When working with clients who have CMPS, fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions, the goal is helping them better manage the pain that is, for many, a part of their everyday lives.
For this reason it is advisable to have a program of more consecutive sessions at the beginning, until the pain decreases, and after a while, the sessions are less.
Modalities to use
Deep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. The term "deep tissue” is often misused to identify a massage that is performed with sustained deep pressure. Deep tissue massage is a separate category of massage therapy, used to treat particular musculoskeletal disorders and complaints and employs a dedicated set of techniques and strokes to achieve a measure of relief. It should not be confused with "deep pressure” massage, which is one that is performed with sustained strong, occasionally intense pressure throughout an entire full-body session. Deep tissue massage is applied to both the superficial and deep layers of muscles, fascia, and other structures.
Neuromuscular Therapy: Neuromuscular Therapy is a program of recovery from acute and chronic pain syndromes by utilizing specific massage therapy, including the pressure of trigger points, to eliminate the causes of pain patterns. This approach brings about balance between the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. It enhances the function of joints, muscles, and movement, and it releases endorphins, the body's own natural pain killers.
Shiatsu: Shiatsu, the most widely known form of acupressure, literally meaning "finger pressure" in Japanese, and has been practiced for more than a thousand years in Japan. Shiatsu uses rhythmic pressure from 3 to 10 seconds on specific points along the body's meridians by using the fingers, hands, elbows, knees, and sometimes feet to unblock and stimulate the flow of energy. A session my also include gentle stretching and range-of-motions manipulations. Shiatsu is used to treat pain and illness, to relax the body, and to maintain general health
Myotherapy: Is a method of relaxing muscle spasm, improving circulation and alleviating pain. It works by defusing "trigger points," which are intense knots of muscle tension that often refer pain to other areas of the body. When a trigger point is under excess emotional or physical stress it often responds by throwing a muscle into spasm. Spasm, in turn, causes pain. Erases the spasm by pressing on the appropriate trigger points for several seconds by means of fingers, knuckles, and elbows and then re-educates the affected muscle to its normal resting relaxed condition with special exercises designed for each individual problem.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for curative and rejuvenating effects. Dating back to ancient Egypt, India, and the Far East, this simple therapy has been used for centuries to reduce stress and tension, refresh and invigorate the body, soothe emotions, and clear the mind. After an initial discussion with the client, specific essential oils are used in conjunction with other appropriate techniques, such as massage, acupressure, or reflexology. Used in oils, the essential oil is absorbed through the skin and into the body to affect physiological change. When inhaled the aroma directly affects the limbic area of the brain that is related to emotions and memories.