Massage and Fibromyalgia / Adrenal Fatigue

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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include tiredness to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep problems, and troubles with memory. Some people also report restless legs syndrome, bowel or bladder problems, and sensitivity to noise, lights or temperature. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Other types of chronic pain are also frequently present. Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the body, with tenderness in joints, as well as in muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. Although there is no cure for this painful syndrome, pain can be managed—and massage for fibromyalgia patients is one way to practice pain management.

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown; however, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors with half the risk attributed to each. The condition runs in families and many genes are believed to be involved. Environmental factors may include psychological stress, trauma, and certain infections. The pain appears to result from processes in the central nervous system and the condition is referred to as a "central sensitization syndrome". Fibromyalgia is recognized as a disorder by the US National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology. There is no specific diagnostic test. Diagnosis involves first ruling out other potential causes and verifying that a set number of symptoms are present.


Some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • tingling of the skin (paresthesias)

  • prolonged muscle spasms

  • weakness in the limbs

  • nerve pain

  • muscle twitching

  • palpitations and functional bowel disturbances


How massage can help?

There are many benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients, and various types of massage, including Swedish, Deep Tissue have been indicated by research studies to help this clientele.

Here are five of the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients:

  1. The first will be relaxation to improve sleep. Sessions in the evening will benefit the patient to allow better quality of sleep at night, thereby helping the body repair and rejuvenate at night more effectively
  2. The second benefit is improved muscle tonicity. This benefit will aid lethargic muscles and help restore strength and vitality to your client’s body. Be sure to include more petrissage strokes to accomplish this goal.
  3. A third benefit will be to improve mental clarity. A relaxing session can raise healthy awareness and relieve mental stress. This can improve the client’s cognitive issues.
  4. Headache relief is the fourth benefit a fibromyalgia patient may receive. Improving blood flow to the brain can relieve the physical source of headache, while the relief received can further keep the person’s mind in a healthier space.
  5. A fifth benefit is diminishing the effects of any anxiety or depression. These effects include hormonal fluctuations, interference with appetite and chronic fight-or-flight mode. Massage can restore homeostasis of the body, thereby diminishing these effects.


The Role of Empathy

A final consideration is to remain compassionate and supportive in the fibromyalgia patient’s treatment-plan efforts, treating the client with empathy and respect, holding her feelings in high regard and without judgment, which will make the greatest impact and produce the most favorable treatment results.



Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue has become more common in modern society. Many people suffer the symptoms of adrenal exhaustion. These adrenal symptoms occur as a result of prolonged stress.  Chronic stress from work, family, school or whatever stressful situations you can think of, cause the adrenal glands to be pushed to their limits. Diet also contributes to it. Consuming caffeine and/or sugar puts additional stress on the adrenals as does alcohol, cigarettes and so on.

The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. They’re responsible for regulating 50 hormones in the body. Cortisol is one of those hormones. Normally, your adrenals will give you a bit of cortisol in the morning that makes you want to get up. It helps make you alert after sleep. That level will drop slowly during the day and will come down more rapidly at night to prepare you for sleep. When this normal pattern doesn’t occur you feel tired in the morning and can’t sleep at night.


Some of the symptoms of adrenal exhaustion are:

  • feeling tired easily

  • mild depression

  • muscle weakness

  • salt cravings

  • decreased ability to handle stress

  • decreased sex drive

Though this condition is commonly diagnosed in the natural health world, it isn’t recognized by medical doctors. There is a disease caused by under active adrenals called Addison’s disease.The symptoms of this disease include, fatigue, weight loss, aches and pains, low blood pressure and loss of body hair. Adrenal fatigue is thought to be a less intense version of this disease


How massage can help?

Massage therapy can be used to help regulate the hormones and calm the nervous system to reduce the stress response. It can help ease depression and help you sleep more easily through the night. Besides helping with the symptoms of adrenal exhaustion, massage can help decrease the stress hormones levels in the blood stream through it’s action in stimulating the lymphatic system and circulation. Massage styles like shiatsu, Stretching massage, Swedish and remedial massage are great for supplementing the treatment of this condition. Aromatherapy massage is another good massage for this condition. The use of aromatherapy oils will help soothe the mind and ease stress even further.



Information presented in this article is never intended to replace advice from a medical professional.


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