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18/Feb/2018

 

Because so much of the information of what causes fibromyalgia, how it develops, and how it impacts the body remain unknown, there is no cure for it. The handful of drugs that are used to treat it only lessen its symptoms. Many of these drugs are off-label, meaning they were designed for treatments other than fibromyalgia. One such example, Gabapentin, was originally created for seizures, but in fibromyalgia may be used to decrease nerve pain or improve sleep.

Since most of the medications prescribed only treat your symptoms, documentation of your symptoms as a tool for your medical provider can be extremely important. To complicate things further, it is not unusual for fibromyalgia patients to also suffer from an autoimmune disorder such a lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, or any number of other health concerns.  Often the other disorder is the first to be diagnosed. Medical journaling or symptom documentation can alert your doctor that there may be something more (e.g. fibromyalgia).

What type of things should you document?

Pain Mapping & Activity

In my darkest days prior to my diagnosis, my physical therapist suggested that I keep a record of what particular body parts were hurting each day. That log ended up being key to my diagnosis because it enabled my rheumatologist to quickly spot a pattern of widespread pain. To this day I still record what body part is hurting each day along with a listing of my activities for the day. This documentation of what is hurting in conjunction with the day’s daily activities allowed me early on to identify activities that would flare me up. For example, handwriting or typing on the PC will flare up my pecs, shoulders, neck and upper back if I am not careful. I actually set a timer when I am on the PC to remind me to stop as it is easy to lose track of time. It stands to reason then that documenting your daily activities can provide some valuable insight.

Tami Stackelhouse in her book “Take Back your Life and Find Hope and Freedom from Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Pain” suggests investing in a step counter. By recording the number of steps taken daily along with your pain level, you can determine how many steps it takes to cause a flare-up so you can avoid surpassing that number. Knowing that number can also assist you in planning your daily activities. For example, if my targeted flare-up number is 1500 steps per day and I have already taken 1000 steps, I might turn down a trip to the mall because I will likely exceed my daily limit of 1500 steps. Hopefully, I will then spare myself a flare-up in my hips, legs and back.

Pain Quality

Because people who suffer with fibromyalgia can experience three different types of pain, documenting the type of pain and its intensity daily can provide valuable information to your healthcare provider as well. Is your pain achy like when you have a case of the flu? Perhaps you feel like you just ran a 5k race with muscle soreness in every movement. Or are you experiencing a burning pain? For me it feels like someone just inserted hundreds of tiny needles throughout my body. On a scale of 1-10, what is the pain level of each type per day? A good app to track your pain is can be found at www.chronicpainapp.com.

Sleep (or lack, thereof)

Once you have a handle on how your activity levels can impact your pain, you might want to tackle a study of your sleep quality. Do you have nightswhere it seems you didn’t sleep at all (“one-eyed” sleep)? Do you fall asleep but awaken almost every hour for a brief period before falling back asleep? Are you having trouble falling asleep? This information may be valuable in gaining a referral to a sleep specialist or in obtaining a prescription for a sleep-aide as the sleep of those with fibromyalgia is often dysfunctional. The good news is that Dr. Ginevra Liptan, an expert in fibromyalgia treatment and herself a fibromyalgia sufferer has developed a seven question fibromyalgia impact questionnaire that you can use to keep track of your pain, activities and fatigue. You can obtain a printable copy of the form at her website. This form is easy to use and should not require much time or energy as I realize there are days where just getting out of bed is a victory. If seven questions are too much, focus on one or two to start and the others later. Remember the journey towards wellness begins with a single step or in this case one question!

As always, my thanks to the marvelously skilled staff at Nimbus Massage who assisted with the typing of this blog and who literally keep me moving with minimal discomfort!

Tami Stackelhouse is a fibromyalgia patient herself and a fibromyalgia coach, her book “Take Back your Life and Find Hope and Freedom from Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Pain” offers a number if useful tips in pain relief improving energy levels and sleep, and working with your doctor. Purchase of the book will also gain you access to a free coaching session plus pain documentation sheets and more. The book is available for $14.95 at Amazon.com.


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18/Feb/2018

Logging hour after hour in the data stream takes a toll on the human body. Modern office work leads to fatigue, stress, and often, physical pain. Staying locked into position over a work desk can put all sorts of strain on the physique, something we’ve dubbed “office body.” In the massage room, we help people daily who have developed chronic muscle soreness from working in the digital era.

Common Office Body Concerns

The number one “office body” complaint we treat is what we like to refer to as “tech neck.” Hunching over a computer like a T. Rex leads to neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.  Starting as an annoyance, if left unchecked the achiness can turn into full-blown pain.

The second most common “office body” problem is lumbar pain. Sitting for hours on end locks the lower body into position leading to tension and soreness in the thighs, hips, and low back. Over time pain creeps in making sitting and getting up difficult.

Another common “office body” issue is arm pain such as carpal tunnel, sore wrists, and sore elbows. Even the busy hands get cramped and sore. For those who type all day, this can make for a miserable work day.

Sometimes, computer work related aches and pains even lead to missed days from work and sitting out on life.

How Massage Can Help

Taking time out to disconnect on the massage table can help unwind these, and other, effects of “office body.” Over time, both the shortened muscles in the front of the body, and the stretched muscles in the back of the body, become tight and sore. Using therapeutic massage techniques can lessen the pain, relax the tension, and rebalance the muscles.

In addition to directly working on tight muscles, massage also eases stress and combats burn out. It can help people get out of the body’s stress cycle and re-set into rest mode. Stepping out of the loop of chronic stress and learning ways to incorporate relaxation into regular living can greatly support overall wellness.

So whether you have stress or muscular pain and tension, massage can get you on the pathway back to better.


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18/Feb/2018

With Love

Call Nimbus today (804) 714 7932 to reserve one or our holiday gift packages for that special health minded someone. We’ve put together some of our best sellers to create holiday gift sets that promote health and healing. With packages for stress relief, wellness, and pain management, we can help your special someone get back to better! Each set is only $225 and includes a gift card for a one-hour massage.

Be Well Package

One hour massage gift card (tip included)

Mother Earth comfort heart pillow

Mindfulness journal

Spiced tea & mug

Palo Santo smudge kit

Homeopathic energy drops

Himalayan salt lamp

Chocolates by Kelly

$225

Ultimate De-Stress Package

One hour massage gift card (tip included)

Mother Earth aromatherapy shoulder pillow

Chamomile tea & mug

Aromatherapy and diffuser set

Homeopathic de-stress mints

Chocolates by Kelly

$225

Happy Body Package

One hour massage gift card (tip included)

Natural pain pack with aromatherapy

Theracane

Foam Roller

Trigger Point Ball

BioFreeze

$225

We can also help you custom design a set from our selection. Or find that one perfect item. We have old favorites and new products that have got you covered from head to toe. We can help you with:

Stress relief- Aromatherapy, heat packs, teas, salt lamps, and more to help set a soothing atmosphere.

Headache Relief- Sinus, migraine, and tension headache products.

Pain Management- Pillows, massagers, salves, and heat packs to target pain. We have items for neck, back, shoulders, hips, legs, hands, and feet.

Athletic Training Care- Rollers, massagers, and salves for post workout recovery.

And, of course, we have massage gift cards available in singles and sets.

Don’t forget to get yourself a little something special!

 


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18/Feb/2018

Your Scalp Massage Check Up From The Neck Up.

There’s a lot going on in that head of yours — including many muscles and structures that could benefit from a scalp massage and face massage. People often ask us what we’re working on when we massage the head so we will explore the cranium vis a vis therapeutic massage. From sinuses, to stress, to migraines, healing touch can help us keep our heads in the game.


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18/Feb/2018

How to Stay Wired for Love

Guest blog post by, Teresa M. Hunt, Ph.D.Licensed Psychologist

I love a good massage, don’t you? I think we can all agree that a luxurious massage from a caring therapist skilled in healing touch is a real gift to ourselves. During a massage, it is wonderful to feel that we can just let go of all our “survival tasks” and just be. From a neurobiological perspective (the study of the nervous system, physiology, and innate drives) we feel so relaxed because kind safe touch activates in the old “survival-based part of our brains the nonverbal message that all is OK; we are safe. The part of our brain (the amygdala) that stays at the ready to sound the “fire alarm” in case of danger can quiet down. With our defenses lowered, we can take in our environment, and open up to the pleasant experience and sensations. We feel a sense of calm, and perhaps even better, a sense of relaxed joyfulness.

This principle of safety and relaxation is so important to understand in the context of our closest relationships. When we humans (and animals) feel safe we will feel the same sense of relaxed joyfulness. We will then seek to: make love, nurture our young, rest, play and work creatively in flow. However, if a sign of danger arrives (ex. shot fired in the forest), all those connecting and joyful activities are instantly stopped. Instead the imperative becomes: stay alive! And we will move into one of five forms of reactivity: fight, flee, hide, submit or freeze.  It is important to realize that in a situation of danger, we cannot connect and love, while we are trying to stay alive.

From a neurobiological perspective, we are hard wired to connect, and hard wired to strive for safety. Sometimes these drives can work together and sometimes they conflict. On the attachment side, we know that a secure bond with a love partner buttresses us against the slings and arrows of life, and strengthens our immune system. Indeed Susan Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, and author of “Hold Me Tight” states “attachment is the most compelling survival mechanism that nature knows.” And we know it is true that most of us, no matter how different we each may be in any other way, each long to connect AND feel safe with a significant other, to have one special person to comfort and love us. Indeed research has shown that isolation is toxic to our immune system, just as a strong secure bond strengthens it. Also toxic to our health are relationships filled with no safety, but instead filled with threat, rancor, and disconnection.

So how do we ensure to keep our love bonds strong once we find love? Of course that is a very large topic, and the focus of my daily work as a Couple’s Therapist. But some lessons from interpersonal neurobiology are very helpful. Couples Therapists are so excited to now know some principles that can really help. In years before our understanding of the science of attachment and how brains and our sense of safety are affected in relationship interactions, we had less effective methods of intervention. Now we know much more.

So a couple of things to keep in mind. And for more on this topic, please see “Wired For Love” by Stan Tatkin, the founder of PACT (The Psychological Approach to Couples Therapy)  This is a very helpful book for those wanting a more secure relationship. I call these items below “relational dance lessons”.

1. The most important thing I can say to help you is that if you desire a strong safe bond with your partner, where love, connection and fun can abide, you must recognize that unless your partner feels safe with you on a central nervous system level, inside their brain and body, which, by the way is largely outside of their conscious control, they will not be open to you in the way you may long for. Think of your shared relationship as a dog that has been mistreated badly that you are adopting from a kennel. How would you energetically behave towards this animal to get her to relax and become open and playful with you? You must become mindful of the energy you are putting into your relational space.

2. You can also create safety by understanding your partner better and developing an “owner’s manual” on him or her. Tatkin suggests that you become an “expert” on your partner. This means understanding his or her “tender spots” from the past, and being empathetic about them, so you do not take them personally. It also means understanding their characteristic way of reacting when they feel threatened, which is related to their attachment style. For example, does their energy get bigger (ex. complain when underneath they are feeling hurt), or does their energy constrict (ex. withdraw, or get very quiet when they feel criticized). Understanding your partner’s attachment style and how they respond to a felt sense of danger is the single most helpful thing you can do to learn to “dance well” in your relational space. When partners are in fear, they get into reactivity, and their primitive survival brains take over. When they feel safe, they can connect. So learning how to put their primitive brains at ease is a very helpful skill.

3. Create a Couple Bubble to allow each partner to feel safe and secure. This means a formal pact is made of true mutuality, which is pro relationship versus pro-self. The idea that “two is better than one.” And “we come first.” And “it has to be as good for me as it is for you,” and vice versa. “We are on one boat going down the river of life, etc….” You get the idea. This formal agreement is very powerful, similar to the way our young military men learn “you never leave your buddy on the battlefield,” and “we are in the foxhole together.” Such agreements create an ethos of security for the Couple that is extremely powerful and helpful.

4. Find a safe way to dialogue about frustrations and concerns that is always respectful, especially in tone and body language. The non-verbal messages are the ones that lead your partner’s brain and central nervous system to decide whether they are safe or in danger. So eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture, etc…, should be attended to. Keep in mind that feeling wronged does not give you license to act aggressively. You will not get what you long for that way. Dealing with anger is a much bigger topic, but these guidelines overall are important. Remember the dog you adopted. Does this mean watch your words? Yes.

5. Amplify the Positive. Positive practices to create an atmosphere of fondness and appreciation go a long way to improve the security of a Couple’s bond.  It is so important to express appreciation to your partner verbally, even on a daily basis, and to make regular declarations of commitment (ex.”I am here for you babe”, or “you got it, whatever you need”). Understanding your partner’s love language regarding what makes them feel cared for, and gifting them those caring behaviors on a regular basis whether it be verbal affirmations, tender touch, acts of service, spending quality time together or giving gifts, strengthens a feeling of love and safety in your Couple space. All these things can be done mindfully knowing it is good for your relational health. You don’t have to wait until the spirit moves you to do it.  A positive intention to behave lovingly is enough. You will be glad you did.

These are just a few tips, there is much more to say, but it is a good beginning. For those wanting to read more about interpersonal neurobiology, google Daniel Siegel and Allan Schore. Also see Rick Hanson who wrote “Buddha’s Brain.” The idea of Mindfulness, and working with one’s own reactivity to become a safe partner for your love partner, where fun and passion can abide is also relevant here. However, just becoming aware of how important and vital these ideas are to a secure bond will get you off to a great start.

All the best!

Warmly, Dr. Teresa M. Hunt

443-817-8300
drtmhunt@gmail.com
www.huntpsychology.com

 

Teresa M. Hunt, Ph.D. is a CERTIFIED Imago Therapist/WORKSHOP PRESENTER and Licensed Psychologist who has specialized in individual and couples psychotherapy for over 29 years. She was clinically trained in the Columbia, Harvard, and University of Michigan Medical School Systems. In addition to Imago Couples Training, she has also had training in EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy). She is also a CERTIFIED, PACT Level I and Level II Clinician (Psycho-biological Approach to Couples Therapy). She has completed Levels I and II of ASCH Clinical Hypnosis Training. Her work includes Psychodynamic and Interpersonal Approaches to Individual Therapy, Imago/EFT/ PACT Relationship Therapy, ADHD Counseling, Clinical Hypnosis for Selected Problems, and therapeutic work around anxiety, depression, coping with grief and loss, and other concerns. Dr. Hunt is a clear thinker and a dynamic presenter, and thoroughly enjoys connecting in a group format. She brings transformational expertise to enliven the ways partners learn to increase passion and communication.


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