Fibromyalgia is a common long term condition; it causes widespread pain throughout the body. The causes of Fibromyalgia are still unknown. In this article we are going to look at Fibromyalgia, what you can for it and whether Pilates and/or massage can help with the symptoms.
Fibromyalgia can affect around 1 in 25 people. Symptoms of can include:
It is still not known what causes Fibromyalgia. It is thought it could be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way central nervous system passes pain messages across the body. It can also be related to genes inherited from parents. It is thought to be more common in females than males, as it affects 7 times as many females is it does males. The common age that it develops is between 30 and 50, but it can come on at any time.
As of yet there is no cure for Fibromyalgia, but suffers normally use a range of different treatments which include:
The first point of call is always your GP if you suffer any of the symptoms. They may refer onto another healthcare professional such as a Neurologist or Rheumatologist.
Can Massage be helpful?
With any suffers from Fibromyalgia, what treatment that works for one may not work for others. Massage can help reduce tension & stress in muscles and also aid relaxation. This can be beneficial with suffers of Fibromyalgia as this is a number of the symptoms they suffer from, but remember that it is believed the condition could be down to the way the Central nervous system process pain messages across the body, so the way the body process the messages from the soft tissue work from the massage will determine how the suffer reacts to massage.
The best piece of advice would be find a highly qualified massage therapist and discuss with them before any treatment. Previously I have had clients who have responded very well to massage. With clients who do not respond as well to massage we have given alternative treatments such as MET’s (muscle energy techniques), Fascia release & STR (soft tissue release). Always seek GP advice first.
Can Pilates help?
Like massage, it will all depend on the individual. The aim of my Pilates classes is ‘to strengthen the weaker muscles, lengthen the short muscles and mobilise the joints’. Pilates could be helpful if suffering with pain which is due to imbalance causing overworked muscles (lower back pain for example) as Fibromyalgia can be intensifying the pain, so correcting these imbalances may well help reduce pain. Increased mobility can also help with pain too. Again you need to be careful as some Pilates classes (especially ones which focus more on “feeling the burn”) may be a bit too much for some suffers. Small classes with hands on correction will probably be a lot more beneficial. Again it will vary from person to person. Always speak to the instructor and GP advice before starting a class first.
For more support please visit the following websites: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/conditions/fibromyalgia.aspx & http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibromyalgia/Pages/Introduction.aspx.
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About the author
I am a Manual Therapist covering a range of different disciplines including massage & Biomechanics. I also run small specialist Pilates classes around Corfe Mullen, Broadstone, Wareham, Wimborne & Poole. Instead of just purely rubbing the pain, I always look to see if I can find a potential cause (or causes of the pain) and then work on treating this.
Pilates Instructor & Therapist, helping you understand why we do what we do!