In retrospect, I can’t imagine why it took me so long to give massage therapy serious consideration. After all, I tried acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy, chiropractic, and other alternative therapies many times over the years.
I’m not saying I never had a massage. In truth, I’ve had quite a few over the years. Each was a luxury — call it a gift to myself in an effort to feel better overall. Most served their purpose, if only for a short while. But none was in any way curative. In fact, I had a couple that were quite painful, as the therapist was unfamiliar with fibromyalgia and a bit too aggressive. Also, because my health insurance didn’t cover massage therapy, it was way too expensive to consider doing regularly.
In desperation, I recently followed the recommendation of several satisfied customers and tried a local massage therapist. After extensive training and certification in the United States, this woman honed her skill by being treated and instructed by a blind massage therapist in the mountains of Peru. I’m certain that whatever she learned there was unknown by any massage therapist I’ve seen in the past.
Expecting little, I went to my first appointment, hoping for any improvement and feeling that I had nothing to lose. Extreme neck and head pain as well as cervical muscle spasms had dominated my life for the past several months. I couldn’t imaging feeling worse.
Much to my surprise, this therapist found the source of my head and neck pain almost immediately. It was in an area I’d not allowed anyone to touch for decades, claiming it was painful and arthritic (which was true). However, this therapist’s skillful fingers went right to this sore spot, identifying it as a trigger point that needed to be relaxed.
It was not a painless procedure. There were plenty of “oohs” and “ohs” and “ouches.” But when her treatment was over, I had no pain in my neck. That was four weeks ago, and my neck remains pain-free.
I was hooked! Yes, my budget has taken a big hit. But I’d be willing to give up groceries in order to afford a weekly massage with this therapist. Each time I go, she releases another hidden trigger point that has caused me pain for as long as I can remember. She has relieved pain in places I didn’t even realize I had pain, so accustomed was I to the discomfort I’d felt for much of my life.
After each of my four sessions to date, I was instructed to rest and drink lots of water. To be honest, I don’t feel great in the 24 hours after treatment. I’m tired and have slight flu-like symptoms. But I know that the source of my malaise is the recently released toxins that were trapped in my muscles for so long. Feeling slightly sick and sore for one day is a small price to pay for having less pain.
Each week, I make steady progress. As one who cannot tolerate medications, it’s about the best improvement I’ve ever experienced. I’m trying not to get too excited. I understand that there’s a limit to what I can expect from any one form of therapy. At some point I likely will reach a plateau, and I’ll have to decide whether to continue as maintenance or give it up altogether.
For now, it’s a pleasure to have found a therapy that yields noticeable improvement each time I go. I feel like I’ve received the best Christmas present of my life. With any luck, it’ll be a gift that keeps on giving.
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