Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2011

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ADDRESS FIBROMYALGIA WITH CONFIDENCE MTs should not make the assumption that every client will fall into the profile of a "typical" fibromyalgia sufferer found in massage therapy textbooks and classroom lectures. The majority of fibromyalgia clients seeking treatment are women in their 30s or older who have suffered from the condition for quite some time, but men and children can be afflicted, too. Many of these clients have gone through a long process of visiting numerous health-care professionals, undergoing various diagnostic tests, and seeking out viable treatment options. This is due in part to a lack of knowledge and experience with fibromyalgia, and widely varying attitudes regarding the condition among those in the health-care community. HEALTH HISTORY Clients with fibromyalgia tend to have more information on their health history form than the average client, primarily because of common accompanying conditions, such as bursitis and carpal tunnel, and the number of medications they are taking. It can be helpful to keep (or include in all health history packages) an additional information form in which clients can add any details they could not fit onto your standard health history form. The amount of medication listed on the health intake of a fibromyalgia client can be overwhelming. Many are on multiple prescriptions for pain and inflammation in widely varying strengths and doses. Keeping an up-to-date reference guide for prescription medications can be helpful in determining the side effects of each drug. If clients give fibromyalgia as the reason for booking their initial appointment, it can be beneficial to request that they email a list of their current medications to ensure you have sufficient time to research each one and its effect on the upcoming treatment. CLIENT INTERVIEW Spending too much time focused on the client's day-to-day pain and other issues related to their fibromyalgia (instead of their current flare-up issues), and attempting to make their symptoms and experiences fit into the accepted definition of a fibromyalgia sufferer should be avoided during the interview. Most clients with fibromyalgia have done a great deal of their own research and may belong to online or community support groups. These are clients who have explored many avenues of treatment and home remedies for their symptoms. While they understand the importance of discussing their most common symptoms and factors involved in their flare-ups, they do not want to spend long periods of time going into every minute detail. Many feel they have already spent too much of their time explaining themselves to health-care professionals who don't thoroughly understand their condition. It is best to keep your initial interview focused on the client's current symptoms. Some specific questions that can assist in attaining the pertinent information include: • Are you in flare-up? If so, how long have you been in flare-up? • Was there any event or activity that triggered your current flare-up? • How has your pain changed your daily activities? • What prescription and/or over-the- counter medications have you taken today to help manage your pain? • What home remedies have you been using to alleviate the pain and inflammation? 44 massage & bodywork september/october 2011

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