“Fibro” mean fibrous tissue (connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments), “My” means muscles, “Algia” means pain. Therefore, fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles and connective tissues of the body. Other names for fibromyalgia include fibromyitis, fibromyositis, fibrositis, and tension myalgia.
Who has fibromyalgia? In North America, the estimates are that 5% of the adult population has fibromyalgia. As many as 90% of the patients are female. While fibromyalgia can start in childhood, the incidence of fibromyalgia is found to increase with age. One book estimated that eight percent of the school population exhibits symptoms of juvenile fibromyalgia.
Therapeutic benefits of massage have been proven in a wide variety of conditions, and fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are no exception.
In a study comparing massage therapy to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, the massage resulted in improved sleep patterns, decreased pain, less fatigue, fewer incidences of anxiety and depression, and decreased cortisol levels. In addition to being listed on the Touch Research Institute web page, this study was published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, volume 2, pages 18 – 22.
The European Journal of Pain published a recent study showing that massage relieved pain, reduced depression, and improved the quality of life in people with fibromyalgia. General studies on massage prove that it lowers levels of stress hormones, increases production of serotonin in the brain, and leads to improved sleep. All of these results benefit fibromyalgia patients.
The Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Volume 3, Number 3, 1997 included a study of massage which indicated that patients receiving one-half hour of massage twice a week for five weeks showed less depression, pain, cortisol levels, anxiety, stress and increases in dopamine levels and enhanced sleep. The patient’s decrease in symptoms began immediately after receiving the first massage, and continued to decrease throughout the duration of the study.
Techniques that are taught in this course:
- Passive Neuromuscular Re-Education Strain/Counterstrain: These are a series of tension releasing techniques. These are passive techniques, where the patient simply receives the treatment without muscular participation. These are excellent to use in patients who are experiencing extreme pain.
- Active Isometric Neuromuscular Re-Education Exercises: These are a series of isometric/isotonic neuromuscular re-education techniques that are very effective for promoting the release of chronically tight muscles. With these exercises, the patient is actively involving the muscles. Use this technique for patients that are stronger and healthier.
- Lymph gland work at major lymph drainage points: There are four major lymph drainage points in the body. The technique involves pumping motions designed to promote the flow of the lymphatic fluid through these points.
- Abdomen: Working the abdomen will not only promote peristalsis, but also gently massage all the major organs in this region.
- Mobilizations/Stretching: A series of passive stretches to promote muscle mobility.
- Reflexology targeting PMS, a scientifically proven technique for combating a common ailment associated with fibromyalgia.