Hello everyone! My name is Mary Wahlman-Krogh. I am a licensed massage therapist at Well Within, and I have fibromyalgia. Since May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, I wanted to share my own journey to wellness with you, explain how massage therapy helps to manage fibromyalgia symptoms and let you know I am always here for consultation if you are dealing with chronic pain and fatigue symptoms.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia the summer after I graduated from college. I was tired all the time, my muscles and joints ached and I was very stressed from starting a new job in a new city. After a battery of tests, a couple of years, and several doctors, one rheumatologist was finally able to diagnose and explain my frustrating symptoms. For the first time I felt like I understood what was going on in my body.
From that day forward I started actively managing this chronic condition with a blend of Eastern and Western medicine techniques. I exercise, take medication, get a massage and practice yoga on a weekly basis. With all those tools, I am able to live a full, vibrant life and I am officially in remission!
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, non-communicable condition characterized mostly by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. There is still much we don’t understand about what causes this syndrome, and it often goes hand-in-hand with other chronic conditions such as migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anxiety and depression, skin sensitivities, vision problems and others. For a full description of fibromyalgia and its symptoms, please see the National Fibromyalgia Association website: http://fmaware.org/PageServerded3.html?pagename=fibromyalgia
Several theories exist about what causes the pain and fatigue in people with fibromyalgia, such as a lack of stage 4 sleep, abnormal functioning of the mitochondria in our cells or a deficiency in some neurotransmitters. While these can all be factors why someone hurts or feels tired, the current prevailing hypothesis is more inclusive: the body’s perception of pain has been altered, causing the central nervous system to not respond to stimulus as it normally would. For more information about the science behind fibromyalgia, see this article.
I have found massage therapy to be one of the most helpful techniques for managing chronic pain and fatigue. In fact, personal experience with massage easing my fibromyalgia symptoms was the main reason I decided to become a massage therapist; I sincerely wanted to pass on that healing help to others.
Massage affects most of the systems in the body. It can specifically reduce fibromyalgia symptoms by increasing circulation in the cardiovascular system and lymphatic system, bringing fresh blood and nutrients to the body and flushing out toxins. Massage warms, loosens and relaxes muscles, which is a significant benefit to patients with chronic muscle pain. Massage also reduces fatigue, stimulates the immune system, promotes sleep and creates deep relaxation and a sense of wellbeing, all of which are extremely helpful to people with this condition.
Each person with fibromyalgia is unique and has a different combination of symptoms and overlapping conditions. In my work as a massage therapist for people with fibromyalgia, I look at each client on a case-by-case basis; there is no “one massage fits all” approach. Together, we will look at your health history, discuss what alleviates and aggravates your symptoms and put together a treatment plan that works for you. It is my goal to improve your quality of life, help you feel the best that you can, and reassure you that you are not alone.
Mary Wahlman-Krogh, LMT