It was my husband’s birthday yesterday and I surprised him with a couple’s massage package at a local spa. He’s been having some back pain of late so I figured we could both use some pampering. It was a very nice and relaxing experience for both of us. He even fell asleep once or twice on the table. It was nice for me to have a relaxing massage. I see a cranial massage therapist about every three weeks to help with the muscle pain, cramps and tension and I get from my fibromyalgia. She also helps me with the issues I have from TMJ disorder. My TMJ predates my fibromyalgia and I think was the catalyst for it. I’ve seen many different massage therapists since my chronic pain started. Every massage therapist is a bit difference.
“Massage therapy is a hands-on treatment that is becoming more and more popular, both with fibromyalgia patients and other pain sufferers. In massage therapy, your muscles and soft tissues are manipulated in order to relieve stress, reduce pain, and increase flexibility. Usually done with the hands, there are a variety of different techniques used to give a massage. Common techniques involve stroking, kneading, and palpating the muscles. Sometimes, a special instrument or device is used to help relieve tension in tight muscles. Hot and cold therapies are also used during massages in order to increase blood flow and relax muscles.” (from “Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia,” http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/fibromyalgia_massage.html)
A really good massage therapist can make a big different to your level of pain, muscle aches and tension, in my experience. A friend recommended that I see a cranial massage therapist who specializes in masssage therapy for TMJ, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain disorders. I’ve been seeing her for about 9 months now. She’s amazing. Working with her is not like getting a relaxing massage at a spa. It’s more like getting physical therapy. It hurts. It often hurts A LOT. I’m pretty miserable and useless the evening after I have a session with her and my pain and achiness are worse the next 24-48 hours after my session. Then I start to feel better. The more I work with her, the longer the benefits of her treatment last. She doesn’t gently knead my back to work out knots, like the massage I got at the spa yesterday. She uses pressure points, gravity and her hands and helps my body to move muscles, vertebrae, etc., back to where they’re supposed to be, not where my abused muscles have pulled them to. She does a lot of work on my neck, head and jaw, for my TMJ. Since seeing her, my jaw is less tight during the days and my orthodontist says it’s easier for him to get my jaw to respond to his treatments. (I got out of my second round of braces in March. This time it was specifically to try to help with my TMJ. Now I have a retainer I wear all day, every day, and a splint to keep me from clenching my teeth at night.) She puts pressure on different muscles inside my mouth to force them to loosen up and start moving again. My muscles have been locked in the position they’re in for nearly 15 years now, so they don’t move easily. The first time she did it I felt like I was being tortured. Every time she’s done it since then though it’s been easier and my jaw aches so much less in the days following. She’s also really good at working on the tightness and pain I get in my back, hips, arms and legs. The muscles in my hips will sometimes get so tight that one of my legs will be shorter than the other because the muscles have pulled the bone higher into the joint. That happens a lot less now thanks to working with her and all of the yoga I do.
If you suffer from TMJ disorder, fibromyalgia or any kind of chronic pain disorder, I highly recommend finding a good massage therapist who is knowledgable about what you’re going through and can help reduce your symptoms. It’s not a cure, but it helps. I usually sleep better the day I have a cranial massage session too, so it may improve your sleep in the short-term. Search until you find someone who is good and knowledgeable though, like I have. If you see a run-of-the-mill massage therapist you’ll get some benefit, but not nearly as much benefit as I get from someone who knows her stuff and what my body needs. We fibromyalgia sufferers will take any help we can get to help with our pain and a good massage therapist can be a great ally in your battle against your pain and other fibro symptoms