The best relief of my fibromyalgia symptoms I have found is from massage, chiropractic, yoga, and gabapentin. I go for a massage every two weeks. Most people who hear that will say something to me about how luxurious it is. That’s true, but for me this is the treatment and interval that helps me manage my pain and muscle stiffness at a more manageable level. It’s part of my regular health maintenance routine so I can continue to function. I’ve tried to reduce the frequency in order to save money, but find that my pain jumps up. So I’ve made it a priority in my budget and schedule.
I have a wonderful massage therapist who understands fibro and provides gentle massage. Over the years, I’ve had some more vigorous massages that actually increased my pain. I find that my body tends to overreact to deep pressure most of the time. A gentle massage every couple weeks seems to work best.
In the past, I have had cranio-sacral massage that was really helpful. Heat also really helps. Even on warm days I ask to have the massage table heating pad on. I’ve also had hot stone massages, especially in winter, that feel amazing. Regular massage also helps me reduce stress and anxiety.
I also do some massage on myself. Frequently, when I am sore and aching, I will massage my arms, legs, and feet. I also have a bedtime routine of massaging my feet and lower legs with lavender and oil. This was recommended to me based on an ayurvedic practice of oil massage called abhyanga. I use food-grade sunflower oil that I buy at the natural grocery store and add essential oils like lavender. A note about the oil – Skin is the largest organ on your body and it absorbs compounds from the lotions and oils applied to it. I used to use lotions of various kinds. Now I almost always use food-grade organic oils and sunflower is my favorite. One of my providers recommended it saying, “Knowing that your skin absorbs most of what you put on it, why would you put something on your skin that you wouldn’t eat?” I had to agree. It works great and I think I’ve actually saved money.
Anyway, I use this combination of sunflower oil and lavender to massage my feet and legs at night. This practice helps me relax at the end of the day and sleep better. If I do this routine regularly (every night for several nights at least), it also helps reduce the pain and stiffness I feel in my legs and feet first thing in the morning. Morning pain and stiffness is a real problem for me. I’m in my 30s and feel like I’m 90-years-old in the morning! Anyway, the nightly foot/leg rub is great. You can google “abhyanga” to learn more about the ayurvedic practice.
I highly recommend regular, gentle massage for any fellow fibro sufferer. It’s been one of the best treatments I have found for myself. I also recommend the nightly routine of a foot/let rub with oil to help relax, sleep better, and reduce that morning pain.
Image: Tiffany Studios Landscape Window, New York Historical Society
Text Copyright Snowdroplets 2015