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24/May/2017

Living Through Pain and Frustration – Tips and Techniques for Fibromyalgia Self Care

Slightly more than five years ago after thousands of dollars in medical expenses and numerous tests that all indicated “normal” test results, I finally received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and began my journey of living with this painful and frustrating condition. During my journey, I have discovered a number of tips that can make the daily struggle of living with fibromyalgia a little easier and can alleviate some of the pain and discomfort. Soon after I was diagnosed, I stumbled upon a book by Dr. Ginevra Liptan entitled Figuring Out Fibromyalgia. Many of the ideas listed below came from this book and her subsequent publication The Fibro Manual. If you are struggling with fibro, I urge you to get a copy of The Fibro Manual. The information contained in this recent publication has been invaluable to me and my path towards healing and fibromyalgia self care .

At my very lowest point, I could not lift my arms to my mouth to eat my morning cereal. Now I have recovered my full range of motion and am the most flexible that I have ever been. You can get better. While listening to the radio station WPER Positive Hits 90.5, I heard Theresa Mills state that the word HOPE stands for Hold On Pain Ends. It is my prayer that each one reading this will find at least one thing that can make his/her daily life with this dreaded condition a little easier. As with anything concerning your health, please check with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking any supplements or starting a regime of exercising and stretching.

Since pain, fatigue and stiffness at times can make daily routines difficult, I have found a few tricks and tools to make daily living easier, especially on those bad days.

Protecting Fibro Backs

A long pair of tongs can be helpful for picking up things when bending or reaching is out. Use them to retrieve dropped items from the floor, take clothes out of the dryer, or reach things out of the cupboard.

A speaker phone can save your neck and back! Instead of crooking your neck to the side and holding the phone to your ear (remember that static locked positions are your enemy), put the phone on speaker to avoid prolonged awkward positioning.

If you love to read, you probably have realized that holding up a book or even a newspaper for a prolonged period of time may be too much. Using a tablet, books on tape, or a reading stand can help. (I have also found the tablet to be easier on my body for emailing and light computer usage.)

When taking a car trip, use pillows to prop up your arms and a towel or pillow to bolster your neck. A heat wrap (or heated seats if you’re lucky) can come in handy, too.

Driving can be your worst enemy of fibromyalgia self care; if you must do it often or for a single prolonged period of time (which could be as little as 10 minutes if you are really flared up). I never drive without a travel-sized pillow under each of my arms. The pillows fill the space between my lap and the wheel so I am not holding my arms locked in a stationary position with no support.

Stretch every day. I always begin my daily stretching in the shower so that the heat of the water also aids in loosening my muscles. Then. as soon as I towel off I continue with additional stretching while I am still loose and warm. Do each stretch slowly but avoid too much repetition (maybe two-three reps of each).

Tools for Fibromyalgia Self Care

Pillows, pillows, pillows … in the car, at the table, on the couch, in the bed. Extra pillows can keep you propped and supported. At bedtime make sure your primary pillow gives your neck good support. Fill in with support pillows as needed especially for the hips, arms and shoulders. Find a good mattress topper or mattress. Foam works best for me. Also, lavender aromatherapy can help enhance sleep.

Use a small ball, like a tennis ball or trigger point ball, to help roll out knots. You can lean against it on a wall, or lay on it on the ground, and take it with you when you travel.

A Theracane, basically knobs on a stick, can help you get precise pressure on your tender points. And it is great for reaching your neck, back, and shoulders without exerting yourself too much.

Heat wraps deliver moist heat help relax muscle tension. You can find ones that heat up in the microwave like a rice pack or aromatherapy pillows from Mother Earth.

Foam rollers target broad areas of your body at once. They are great for general tautness and large muscle groups.

Use your large exercise ball as a support when you stretch- especially good for stretching your back.

Magnesium, such as in an epsom salt bath or oil, can help ease muscle soreness and tension.

Lavender aromatherapy serves as both a natural stress reducer and sleep aid.

A Cranio Cradle can also help traction your neck and encourage rest.

The great outdoors is free. Get outside every day. No matter how bad you feel. The movement and sunshine (and nature) can help keep you going and connected to the world.

Many thanks to the staff at Nimbus Massage. Their compassionate, knowledgeable and skillful therapists literally keep me moving while maintaining my pain at tolerable levels. Without their encouragement and assistance, I would never have compiled this list of tips and tools. They are truly awesome!!

Additional Resources

Some quality sources of information that have helped me include:

The Fibro Manual by Dr. Ginevra Liptan.

Healing Through Trigger Point Therapy by Devin J. Starlanyl and John Sharkey

The Fibromyalgia Partnership and their quarterly publication Fibromyalgia Frontiers.

YouTube always has helpful fibromyalgia self care videos for how-to’s on stretching and using tools.

 


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24/May/2017

Low back pain hurts and can result in pain when trying to stand up or shift position. Aching while trying to sleep. Trouble with bending or lifting.

Low back pain is the most common cause of missed time from work— it affects up to 80% of adults in the US at some point and can be completely incapacitating.

Many factors contribute to back pain including muscular injury, postural irregularities, obesity, problems with the spinal column and discs, and nerve problems. In some cases, no one culprit becomes evident– termed non-specific chronic low back pain. Despite its prevalence, low back pain remains a frustrating malady to treat.

Massage for Low Back Pain

Fortunately, for many people, massage can help ease low back pain. Although research has only just begun to support the efficacy of massage, the evidence that exists suggests both relaxation and therapeutic massage can reduce low back pain. In fact, recent medical guidelines list massage as a go-to therapy for low back pain. The team at Nimbus has helped countless people with their low back pain over the years. If muscular tension or injury has led to the pain, many people find relief in a few short sessions. For underlying factors that will not go away (arthritis, scoliosis, etc…) many manage their pain with ongoing treatments. Here is a list of some causes of back pain and some observations from the Nimbus staff about how massage may or may not help.

Massage may be most helpful for resolving pain or other symptoms in a short series of sessions:

– Muscular pain with recent onset.

– Nerve entrapment (by a muscle) with recent onset– including sciatica.

– Recent injury, sprain, or strain.

Massage may be very helpful for the following cases, however it may take a longer series of sessions:

– Chronic muscular pain.

– Nerve entrapment (by a muscle) that has been on-going– including sciatica.

– Past injury, sprain, or strain.

– Pain from postural or repetitive motion stress.

– Non-specific low back pain.

– SI Joint Dysfunction.

– Tendonitis.

– Piriformis Syndrome.

Massage may be helpful for relieving pain or other symptoms, but will not resolve the underlying issue:

– Arthritis including Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Spinal Stenosis.

– Fibromyalgia.

– Scoliosis.

– Degenerative or other disc diseases.

– Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Massage may not be helpful depending on the level of nerve vs. muscular involvement, may help pain or other symptoms:

– Ruptured disc.

– Nerve impingement (by bone)– including sciatica.

– As always, talk to your healthcare provider about your condition, and seek medical help for distressing, severe, or chronic pain.

What to expect during a massage

As with any complex condition, the treatment plan your massage therapist would suggest for your particular case will vary. The therapist will ask many questions concerning your pain, overall health, and history of massage and then discuss a plan with you. In some cases, the therapist may recommend a flowing massage using techniques to elicit relaxation and calm stress. A Massage for Stress & Anxiety can help back pain, and is a good fit for people who do not like structural massage. In other cases the therapist may recommend a more structural approach. If the pain just started recently, this would fall under the Massage for Aches & Pains category. For pain that has lasted more than three months, the Massage for Chronic Pain would be appropriate.  In either of these cases, the therapist may employ firm pressure to tender muscles; vigorous strokes to loosen stuck muscle fibers; sustained moderate pressure to ease taut areas; stretching and movement to move a nerve or muscle; and many more techniques. Depending on what you list as your symptoms, the therapist may check muscles in areas other than your low back including your legs, buttocks, and abdomen.

Home Care

You can also take steps to ease your pain at home. The American College of Physicians recently came out with a list of recommended approaches to easing back pain. Some examples of therapies you can use at home include the following. Apply heat, especially moist heat, like one of our Mother Earth Pillows or a soak. Engage in exercise, tai chi, or yoga. Try mindfulness techniques or progressive relaxation. You can also do self-massage at home with your hands or a gadget such as a trigger point tool or foam roller.

If low back pain hampers your daily living, massage and a good home care program, could help you get your pain under control, naturally.

 


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24/May/2017

Taking on a new exercise or physical activity can lead to sore aching muscles the next day.

Sometimes the muscle soreness even lingers for a few days making every step, bend, or twist a wince-worthy moment. Fortunately, with conditioning, learning your limits, and a little TLC post-activity, muscle soreness can fade into the past.

Lactic Acid and Sore Muscles

For a long time, the fitness community blamed lactic acid build-up for post-exercise muscle soreness. New studies show that lactic acid does indeed play a role in the muscles during physical exertion. However, it appears to dissipate quite rapidly after the activity stops instead of “building up” in the muscle.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Currently, the medical community believes that tiny little tears in the muscle fibers, combined perhaps with inflammation, cause the pain. They call it Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (“DOMS”). In general terms, as long as it feels good when stretched, it isn’t too severe. People often also qualify it as “good pain.”

Steps to prevent DOMS

Working with a personal trainer or exercise specialist when undertaking a new program can help people recognize and understand their limits and how to gradually improve. In general terms, starting slow with a moderate increase from previous activity can work. Then one can gradually increase the intensity. People can also apply this to non-exercise tasks such as gardening, home projects, or cleaning. Jumping in and overdoing it can lead to unwelcome muscle soreness. Take it easy and build up. In either case, warming up, cooling down, and stretching afterwards can minimize soreness.

Sports Massage

For those who push their limits in training, massage can help. Some people use sports massage directly after training to decrease inflammation and stave off DOMS. Recent studies have shown an actual physiological decrease in inflammation in muscles post-exercise with the application of massage. Typically, this type of sports massage entails light to moderate pressure vigorous massage.

Between heavy training cycles, one may use firmer more targeted massage to address problem areas with knots and tension. In either context, adding stretching can help.

The same principles would apply for someone who had sore muscles from non-exercise activity. In either case, the client would want to share how long it has been since their last intense activity, their typical activity, and what level of muscle soreness they feel. All of these pieces of information help a massage therapist plan a session that will ease the client’s pain.

Self-Care

Some things to try at home for easing DOMS include stretching, soaking, and self-massage. Taking time to stretch the sore muscles can feel great and get them back to normal more quickly. Applying heat, especially moist heat, can relax the muscle and ease pain. Many people find an Epsom salt bath or heat therapy pillow particularly helpful. Some people prefer cold therapy- such as icing or applying a salve such as BioFreeze. Self-massage techniques like rubbing, kneading, thumping, and jostling the muscle can help get them back in shape as well. Hands or tools such as a massage ball or foam roller all work. Light activity can also help speed recovery.

People of all levels of activity and fitness can experience Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Taking these steps can help relieve and/or prevent it for free, happy, easy movement.


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24/May/2017

Targeted = Focused on your specific problem areas.

Therapeutic = Having a therapeutic goal.

Massage = Working with your muscles. (What we do!)

Finding a way to succinctly describe what we do in a way that people will understand posed a unique challenge for us. What sets us apart? How do we describe what we do without using boring industry terms? How do we stay away from the misnomers of Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage? Targeted Therapeutic Massage seemed to fit the bill.

We use a through intake process to learn our client’s goals for the session, factors that contribute to their condition, and what has or hasn’t worked for them in the past. We then use this information to tailor our work each time someone comes in. In this way each session geared towards each client’s Therapeutic goals.

Our therapists all have years of experience that include actively learning new skills and staying up-to-date in the field. We know a number of different styles of massage and can blend them during each session in order to achieve the best results possible. If someone feels high levels of stress and anxiety then we use calming techniques to help relieve those feelings. If someone has chronic pain then we use pain-relieving techniques to help them manage their symptoms. If someone has a recent injury we use structural techniques to focus on helping them heal that area. We use our skills to Target each person’s problem areas.

We put all of this together to specialize in target sessions. In a Targeted Massage session, we focus solely on a particular problem area and its corresponding structures for an entire massage. Our clients get relief from stubborn problem areas, manage chronic pain, and improve function after trauma.

 


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