Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition that is very difficult to diagnose and impossible to cure. However, those that suffer from this condition know that it is very real. The chronic widespread pain can be debilitating and the associated fatigue and depression cannot be avoided. No one really knows what causes it, only that it is caused by a dysfunction in the body’s central pain management system, until now.
A recent study, led by Dr. Frank Rice, has led to a better understanding of FM. The study found an anomaly that was consistent with FM patients in their hands. Dr. Rice said, “Instead of being in the brain, the pathology consists of excessive sensory nerve fibers around specialized blood vessel structures located in the palms of the hands.” They found an overdevelopment of sensory nerve fibers that innervated the arteriole-venule shunts (AVS). The AVS are responsible for regulating blood flow between the skin and muscle tissues. The excess nerve fibers cause dilation of the AVS which in turn can cause ischemia, or lack of blood flow, to the muscles and deeper tissues. No or decreased blood flow can lead to malnutrition of the tissues, lactic acid build up, and, ultimately, deep widespread pain.
Massage has always been a recommended treatment option for FM patients. Now we understand a little better why that is. We know that massage directly affects blood flow. The pushing and pulling of the skin and muscles aid the circulatory system by pushing out old trapped blood allowing new fresh blood to flow in. Through this process, lactic acid is broken up and flushed away with the increased blood flow. Pain is indirectly relieved because the problems that were causing the pain have been eliminated.
Massage is not just a luxury, it’s a proven therapy. It’s one of the oldest therapies known and is even engraved in our DNA. Licensed Massage Therapists have been trained to use massage to manipulate the soft tissues and relieve various ailments including Fibromyalgia. Why wait? Schedule a massage today!
Live Feeling Better
By Jeremy Dickerson, LMT, BCTMB