What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (or sometimes referred to as muscular rheumatism, or fibrositis) can be a long-term, debilitating and chronic condition. This condition is diagnosed by widespread pain and tenderness over most of the body. Other symptoms include insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, stiff joints, headaches, hypersensitivity to heat and light, tingling of the limbs, especially the hands and feet, and for females they may also suffer from more painful menstruation. Memory and concentration can also be adversely affected – this is known as “fibro fog”.
It is difficult to diagnose Fibromyalgia as the symptoms can be confused with other conditions and it is often necessary to conduct various tests. Some people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Chronic Fatigue (ME), Thyroid imbalance, Vitamin D deficiency, bone disease (such as Pagel’s Disease) or Hepatitis before they get the correct diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. It can be a very uncertain and frightening time.
It is said to affect 25% of us, the majority being middle-aged women. It has also been suggested that people with other conditions are more likely to be affected, such as those with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis (spinal arthritis), stressful or traumatic events, RSI, or genetic conditions.
Fibromyalgia doesn’t cause any lasting damage to the body’s tissues but it’s important to keep active if possible to avoid weakening of the muscles (deconditioning) which could lead to secondary problems.
Can Reflexology Help with the Symptoms of FibroMyalgia?
Reflexology stimulates nerves in the body to encourage blood and lymph flow and circulation throughout the entire body and all its systems, and is therefore thought to relieve, and prevent pain. This treatment also aims to detox, release tension and increase energy levels, all of which can have a positive effect for fibromyalgia sufferers.
Over and above Reflexology, we would suggest a holistic approach to treating fybromyalgia, so it is important to review your diet and exercise, and also consider activities such as meditation or mindfulness to reduce anxiety and stress.
Reflexology for Fibromyalgia
If you plan to try reflexology, it is always advisable to go to a trained and experienced Reflexologist. We always recommend people to consult the AOR (Association of Reflexology) or the IIR (International Institute of Reflexology) to find someone who is properly trained and accredited in your area.
It helps to understand how your body works and why treating certain organs and glands helps you achieve relief in the following symptoms:
Stiffness, with Aches and Pains
If you are suffering from joint or muscle pain the reflexology points which a Reflexologist would focus on various aspects of the body associated with pain.
There are 4 pillars of pain:
- the peripheral nervous system (or movement system)
- the autonomic system (sympathetic, parasympathetic, hormonal and visceral systems)
- central nervous system
- psycho-emotional (stress, pain memory, anxiety).
The reflexology techniques will vary depending on your practitioner but they can vary from gentle stroking movements, to firm pressure, which may cause sensitivity or tenderness depending on the level of congestion, blockage or imbalance in an area. It is thought reflexology works on the neurological system through the release of endogenous opiods.
Opioids attach to receptors in the brain. Normally these opioids are the endogenous variety that are created naturally in the body. Once attached, they send signals to the brain of the “opioid effect” which blocks pain, slows breathing, and has a general calming and anti-depressing effect.
One of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia is fatigue and low energy. By treating the reflexes on the feet that correspond to the adrenal glands and the pancreas, this may be reduced or even disappear. Be aware of “the healing crisis”, where you may feel a little worse before you see the benefits, so don’t be alarmed if you feel more tired for a couple of days. If your fatigue is down to low blood-sugar levels, working the pancreas may help to regulate blood-sugar levels. Working the adrenal gland reflex points may also help you by improving the production of adrenaline, which increases energy levels and building the strength of your immune system. Whether it is mental or muscle fatigue, or both, the overall boost to your circulation and the increase of blood flow to all your organs, glands and muscles which reflexology provides is also highly likely to allow organs and muscles to work more efficiently and increase energy levels.
Reflexology also has a detox effect, which again will have a knock-on effect on your energy levels, giving them an extra boost. Drink lots of water to get the maximum benefits from Reflexology.
Lack of Concentration & Memory
If you are feeling the brain fog caused by Fibromyalgia, then working the toes, especially the big toe, will stimulate the brain reflex. Focusing on relaxation techniques, such as working on the diaphragm reflex can also help to calm the mind and help you to concentrate again.
Stress and Tension, or Depression
The symptoms can be debilitating and depressing, and it is understandable this illness can you bring you down. You may also get anxious and worry about the severity of some of the symptoms. Reflexology can help ease the tension and create relaxation. Working the diaphragm and all the glands of your body, especially your thyroid, and the spine for the nervous systems should create relaxation and help with the emotions.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a common issue for Fibromyalgia sufferers, mainly because their body becomes susceptible to everything, so it affects the bowel movement as well. By stimulating and massaging the colon, along with the gallbladder and liver, the IBS should ease. Be sure to eat plenty of roughage in your diet too, spinach and kale at each meal will help!
So there are so many avenues which a Reflexologist can use to treat Fibromyalgia symptoms. Each person is different, so the results will vary depending on the symptoms and severity you suffer, but there is a general understanding that Reflexology can help with Fibromyalgia. If you choose to wear the Revs Reflexology shoes or Revs Massage Insoles to help your condition, bear in mind you may experience “the healing crisis” with the therapeutic action they provide too. Please follow the wearing recommendations to ensure you get the best results from the footwear.