Medical massage can greatly improve the quality of life for fibromyalgia patients. Fibromyalgia pain usually affects several areas of the body, and feels very achy. There are tender points in muscles throughout the body. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include debilitating fatigue, headaches and sleep disturbance.
As an experienced medical massage therapist, I have helped many fibromyalgia patients get back to work and resume normal living. Medical massage helps fibromyalgia patients reduce dependence on drugs and live with lower levels of pain. Typically, good results can be achieved with weekly treatments over a six-month period.
Medical science has not been able to discover a definitive cause for fibromyalgia. Over many years of providing medical massage therapy, I have discovered a common causal picture for the onset of many cases of fibromyalgia. This picture includes unhealed soft tissue trauma combined with high stress challenges. I will describe a typical case history.
Case history fibromyalgia recovery
A middle-aged female fibromyalgia patient came to me for medical massage treatment. Her symptoms were classic, including headache, sleep disturbance and body aches. A physician attended her case. She participated in an FMS support group and was educated about the disease.
As a medical massage therapist I always begin with an orthopedic and soft tissue examination. I observed that a deep lumbar postural muscle (the quadratus lumborum) was in spasm. The short and tight muscle was pulling the left posterior iliac bone into an abnormally elevated position. The alignment of her entire spine was off and muscle tension was very high throughout her pelvis, back, shoulders and neck.
I asked the medical massage patient questions about past accidents and injuries. The patient remembered a hard fall that occurred almost two years prior to the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This fall had kept her in bed for many weeks. X-rays showed there were no broken bones or problems with joints. Prescription drugs were used to alleviate pain. The soft tissue injuries were allowed to heal naturally. No one had corrected the quadratus lumborum muscle spasm that persisted for many years.
As a massage therapist, I have treated countless patients with long-term muscle spasm who did not develop fibromyalgia. Why did this patient develop fibromyalgia? To answer this question, we must consider an important medical fact. Long-term muscle spasm contributes to the overall stress load on the body. This stress load is handled by both the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the central nervous system (CNS).
Muscle spasm is a neuro-muscular event that causes physiological changes over time. Long-term muscle spasm is driven by fast-firing sensory nerve signals that tell the spinal nerves and the brain something is wrong. Rapid-firing responses are then activated in the motor nerves that control the muscle’s behavior. The rapid-firing motor nerves keep the spasm going. Medical massage can deliver the needed medical intervention that turns-off the feedback loop and stops the muscle spasm.
The central nervous system (CNS) is involved in maintaining a muscle spasm. And the central nervous system is subject to overload. The CNS processes every event in the life of a human being. This includes physiological, mechanical, and psychological events. What happens when the CNS system is overloaded?
When the combined electrical appliances in your home produce current that exceeds capacity, an electrical safety device breaks the circuit and saves your home from potential fire. What saves your body from potential break-down from electrical overload? Fibromyalgia is, in my professional opinion, a break-down disease from CNS overload and ANS imbalance.
Your body processes total electrical voltage from the work of every cell, organ and system in the body. It also processes brain electrical voltage from mental and emotional work. When the CNS is overloaded the excess voltage is moved out to the periphery of the body. Muscles all over the body can become hypertonic (too tense). Other tissues like organs and connective tissue can also be affected by an excess electrical charge.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) also becomes involved in a stress response. The body’s ability to heal itself weakens. At the time when my client fell and put her quadratus lumborum muscle into spasm, many other difficult challenges were present in her life. The combined difficult and prolonged physical, mental and emotional challenges faced by my patient caused CNS overload along with ANS imbalance. The symptoms were diagnosed as fibromyalgia.
Medical massage treatment given to a cooperative patient who makes helpful lifestyle changes can restore a fibromyalgia patient to healthy living. My patient returned to work. Pain dropped to low levels. The client learned how to manage fibromyalgia pain using diet, exercise, and stress-management.
Call 303-986-0492 for a free 10 minute phone consultation
Joan Sloss, Ed.D. LMT
Medical Massage Therapist
Healing Unleashed, LLC