Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2011

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Page 49 of 132

ADDRESS FIBROMYALGIA WITH CONFIDENCE Communication during the Communication during the treatment session is vital. It is important that the client is aware she should speak up when pressure is either too deep or the treatment becomes painful. treatment session is vital. It is important that the client is aware she should speak up when pressure is either too deep or the treatment becomes painful. No matter what philosophy a therapist or client has toward the role of pain in an effective treatment, fibromyalgia is not a condition that allows for the "no-pain, no-gain" attitude during treatment. MTs should also be extremely aware of signs of increased inflammation to areas of focus during the treatment. An area that seems to increase in the amount of visible edema or exhibits significant hyperemia can become very painful during or after a treatment. These areas should be treated with a lighter pressure for a longer time; ideally hydrotherapy can be used to combat the inflammation. TAKE-HOME WORK Offering effective remedial exercises to a fibromyalgia client is an important part of their treatment.1 It is best to initially focus on stretches the client can use during flare-up to help reduce hypertension and increase mobility in affected areas. Among other health benefits, regular cardiovascular exercise can also aid in managing the pain and hypertension associated with fibromyalgia. It should be noted, however, that the inflammation and joint issues associated with the condition will alter the types of exercise clients should consider engaging in. MTs can safely suggest activities such as swimming/water aerobics, low- impact aerobic classes, yoga, and the use of machines like elliptical trainers and stationary bikes. High-impact activities like step aerobics or running and jogging on a treadmill should be avoided. Clients who express an interest in weight training to improve muscle tone and strength should be advised to do so only if they are willing to work with an accredited and experienced personal trainer who can guide them in the appropriate exercises, form, and weight limitations. Following a client's progress after treatment is an important tool when treating fibromyalgia sufferers. Day- after calls will allow an MT to get more accurate feedback on the client's level of pain, feelings about the effectiveness of the treatment, and any questions or concerns the client may have, rather than relying on the client's memory of this information on her next visit. OVERCOMING THE INTIMIDATION FACTOR The unique challenges presented by a fibromyalgia sufferer can be intimidating when first presented to inexperienced MTs. With the implementation of minor adjustments to the treatment routine as outlined above, and thoughtful communication before, during, and after the session, MTs can dissipate their anxiety and treat their fibromyalgia clients with more confidence and effectiveness. therapist, reflexologist, and aromatherapist. Her hope is to use her knowledge and experience to open up new avenues of treatment in chronic pain disorders. Contact her through her website: Cara McGuinness is a registered massage NOTE 1. Exercises or stretches should be intended as a take-home resource and should not be performed within massage sessions or progressed by massage therapists, in order to comply with state laws and maintain scope of practice. tune in to your practice at ABMPtv 47

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