Fibromyalgia Massage Therapy

Peggy Mills, 
Tips for Choosing a Therapist

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia, you know it is painful. You've heard that massage therapy can be helpful, and you would like to try it. Is massage therapy a good thing when it hurts? How does hurting help? How do you know if you have a good therapist? How do you know if it is going to help you? As a massage therapist for 10 years, and having fibromyalgia for more than 25 years, I highly recommend massage. Here is some information to help you choose a therapist and get what you pay for.

With all the new massage schools and massage businesses popping up all around us, it is difficult to know where to go and what to expect unless you have a recommendation. The types of modalities and styles vary as much as each individual therapist. You may have to try several modalities and several therapists before deciding on which is right for you.

With my experience as a therapist and having fibromyalgia, here is what I would recommend you ask a therapist before making an appointment:

Call and ask lots of questions about the type of massage they do.
Ask if they have experience working on clients with fibromyalgia.
Ask what they charge and for what length of time so there are no surprises.
Ask about the protocol for the massage, such as clothing vs. sheets, etc.

The more information you have beforehand, the better decision you can make. If the therapist seems irritated by all of your questions, it's already time to move on. You are a customer, and you are HIRING a therapist to help you. Once the massage starts, keep in mind that you are still the customer and have hired the therapist to work for you. You must tell him/her what you need.

It is YOUR responsibility to give the therapist feedback. If you don't tell him/her that it is too deep or too light, you have no complaint. You need to keep giving the therapist information about you because every body is different, and every part of the body has a different pain tolerance.

For instance, on me, a therapist can't go deep enough on my neck and shoulders, but then they must use the lightest pressure possible on my ankles so I don't leap off the table. He/she will not know that unless I speak up (or scream). Therapists are not mind-readers. If you don't communicate with them, then they should be asking questions of you such as, "Does that feel deep enough? Would you like lighter pressure? Does that feel like the right spot?"

Although massages are supposed to be relaxing, fibromyalgia is somewhat different. With many of my clients I had to start out very lightly, and over time increase the pressure in order to get deeper into the muscle to release the pain and allow the blood and oxygen to get through the "knots" that seem to be consistent with fibromyalgia. This is how massage helps with fibromyalgia; it hurts and it does take time.

Some patients - especially men - require a deeper pressure right from the beginning. How do I know this? Because I never hesitate to ask questions or ask for feedback.

As a paying client you also have the right to ask the therapist to spend more time in whatever areas you feel need more work. If there are some areas that you prefer not to be worked on, you also have the right and responsibility to let the therapist know. Clear communication is the only way to get what you pay for.

A word of caution: Never go alone the first time to someone's home for a massage unless they have been recommended by someone you know.

A mom, wife, grandma, Licensed Massage Therapist, and now a business owner. My life's passion is to help many people in some way alleviate different types of pain by offering a kind word, expressing concern over problems, giving massage, or by someone purchasing my product and feeling the benefits from it. I'm not an experienced writer, but am enjoying it more everyday.


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