What is Fibromyalgia? Part 1

What is Fibromyalgia?

To the person who suffers it is pain. The kind of pain that keeps you in bed. Pain that never seems to go away. Pain that controls your life. Pain that no one seems to understand.

To the doctor  whom the patient sees it is a challenge. It is an enigma,  an ever-changing target.

To the loved ones of the afflicted it is a worry, a concern, a wish to make things better.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia:  is a neurosensory disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue. The condition is chronic (ongoing), but pain comes and goes and moves about the body. The disorder is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized and is and often complicated by mood and anxiety disorders. (found here)

So, really, what IS Fibromyalgia? We can say that it is chronic pain. We can read that the pain moves to different areas of the body. We can hear our loved one say that they cannot get out of bed some days. We hear them but do we understand? Do we really see?

I work with a few people who live with Fibromyalgia. It is SO completely different in each person that I find it hard to define. I read a book once who called it “The Thief.” (I cannot remember the name of the book, sorry.) This woman called Fibromyalgia “The Thief” because is was stealing her life. Day by day. Moment by moment. Pain. Pain that doesn’t go away. It just becomes tolerable.

I’ve worked with clients whose doctors told them that their pain wasn’t real. They were told to “get over it,” and “we can’t find anything wrong with you, but you’re depressed.” They were given pills and sent home feeling defeated and crazy.

But you don’t need to feel crazy because Fibromyalgia is real. And it hurts. And you very well may be depressed.

I’ve also seen clients whose doctors were amazingly empathetic. The doctors worked with them to try to find solutions for the pain – pain meds, physical therapy, antidepressants, massage therapy, spiritual therapy, and counseling.  Even if the pain didn’t go away the patient had the confidence that comes with being heard and believed.

The next post, maybe two, I will explore in more detail this “Thief” named Fibroyalgia.

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com for more information about the type of Massage Therapy I offer.


What’s That Smell?

Oh! Excuse me! Just kidding, just kidding!

If you walk into my massage office and ask yourself or me, “What’s that smell?” the answer is aromatherapy. I like to include aromatherapy in your massage treatments. I think it adds a little something to your massage experience.

The most common aroma that I use is Lavender. Lavender is my go-to scent. Yes, I know, many places use Lavender. It smells nice. The scent is excellent for relaxation, stress relief, anxiety, and restlessness. I use Lavender the most because very few people seem to be offended by the smell. It doesn’t overwhelm the small space we use for your massage.

Peppermint is another essential oil that I use in massage sessions. It is great to clear up the my-nose-is-stuffed-up-from-laying-face-down issue. And it smells nice. Peppermint has a bit stronger aroma than Lavender so I won’t use it all day long.

Eucalyptus is the other scent I use. People really like it! It is great to put on a tissue next to your nose if your sinuses or allergies are acting up.

How do I use this aromatherapy? Simple. I put some drops onto a tissue and put it close to the face rest opening under the table. You don’t even see it!  Some people mix it with oil or lotion but I don’t do that. I would rather take a class or two before I start applying the essential oils to skin.

One reason why I like to use aromatherapy in each massage is that if you lay on my table frequently then the smell will trigger your brain to relax. Your brain will begin to associate the smell of Lavender with the feeling you get from a massage. As soon as you lay down and inhale the familiar scent your brain starts telling your body to relax. Simple. Brilliant. Awesome.

PS. I don’t charge extra for this. It’s just part of the whole awesome massage experience.  🙂


Emotional Distress

We gather together in times of distress. Distress could be the loss of a home to fire, the loss of a job or the loss of a family member. Tragic loss throws us into a tailspin of survival and disbelief.

But we are awesome human beings with the ability to survive. And get stronger. And get better. One of the ways we do this is by coming together. Humans are great at coming together. When someone passes away we gather around the close family members. We reach out and touch them.

Hugs are amazing during times of emotional distress. During times of loss hugs last longer because we want to hold onto the person who is hurting. We want to make it better so we hug them and rub their back. We hold hands. We hold each other.

When the words are lost, when the words are muted by the thoughts and background noise, the love can still be felt through the touch. Touching is so important during this time. Could you imagine gathering to show support but not being allowed to touch? What would we do then?

Love, support, hurt, caring, sympathy, empathy, annoyance, hope and faith can all fill a room without a word spoken. Touch communicates these things when voices can’t. Hugs provide support when words don’t matter anymore.

When you are afraid of saying the wrong thing, when you can’t think of the “perfect words,” try sharing an embrace. You will share your strength with someone who may not have an ounce of energy left.

We probably can’t “make it better.” But we can help provide the basic human need for touch. People won’t remember what you said, but they will feel your embrace even after you’ve gone home.

Knee Pain and Runners

Runners eventually suffer some type of knee pain. Pounding the pavement on a daily basis is a great form of exercise. All that pounding puts stress on the joints and ligaments. “Runner’s Knee” is a generic term describing knee pain that could be from many different causes.

The muscles surrounding the knee can cause knee pain from overuse. “Overuse? But I’m training! I need to run everyday!”All muscles and joints want and need to move and be used, there’s no question about that. Just pay attention to your body’s cues to rest or cut back. 🙂

When someone calls me with knee pain from running I massage the WHOLE leg. All of it. The back of the leg (hamstrings) shorten with every step taken. Imagine you are running. Your foot lands and these muscles lengthen a bit and then tighten just enough so you don’t fall. They then immediately shorten again, pulling the foot off the ground and propelling you forward. Step, shorten, step, shorten, step, shorten, etc.

These hamstring muscles are often tight and short on a runner’s leg. The ligaments and tendons are often overstretched and pulling around the back of the knee.  And now you have knee pain. Stretch. Assess how MUCH you are running. Are you running too much for your skill level? Should you change shoes? Change your speed or route?

The front of the leg is also an important factor in running and your knees.
Those muscles lengthen and shorten with every step you take, too.
The front of the thigh extends the knee and stabilizes our steps.
If these muscles are weak you could have knee pain if you run.
Stretch and strengthen these muscles.

Other causes of knee pain in runners are flat feet/fallen arches, a direct injury like a fall and other problems with the feet.

If you are training for a race or just starting on your running adventure it is a good idea
to take care of yourself. The exercise is just ONE way. You must stretch and assess
how your body feels each day. Where are your aches and pains? Are you in actual pain or are you just sore from the workout?

Massage is a great asset to your training regimen. Massage can help the body
heal the little muscle tears from exercise. Massage can help lengthen the tight, short muscles. Muscle tension is common and massage can help relieve the aches and pains
around the joints.

Lactic Acid Isn’t What You Think

When I went to massage school I was told on a daily basis, “Massage flushes lactic acid out of the muscles.” And I believed it without researching. And I repeated it for 7 years. Let’s face the facts. THIS IS WRONG.

There, I said. I was taught something that was incorrect, I repeated it to my clients for years and now I am trying to spread the word– Lactic Acid is Your Friend!

I came across this article in Runner’s World. Take  a look! Spread the word! Lactic acid is NOT the cause of muscle soreness days after your workout. In fact, it leaves the muscle within hours of the workout.

Confessions always make me feel better 😉

Q and A Health History Form Edition

Why do I need to fill out a health history form?

Many of you have received a professional massage. Many of you have been receiving professional massage for years. And many of you have looked at me sideways when I’ve asked you to fill out a health history form. If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it one hundred times:

“Why do I need to fill this out?” “I’m just here for a massage, do I really need to answer all of these questions?”

Your safety is my number one concern. Your health and well-being are very important to me. I need a little honesty. There are certain health conditions in which massage could be harmful to you. There are certain medications that don’t mix well with massage therapy. My first priority is to “do no harm.” Here are a few of the questions and why I ask them.

Phone Number- If we have an appointment scheduled and something urgent comes up that I need to reschedule I would need to call you.  (I almost NEVER do this.) If you leave a piece of jewelry in the treatment room I would need to call you. I don’t call you to sell you anything. I don’t call you to chat. I don’t text you to advertise. I ask for your phone number “just in case.”

Birthdate- No pressure here. I like to send birthday cards.

“Are you under medical supervision?” This could mean a million different things. Is it necessary for you to see your doctor more than once a year? Do you have a medical condition that requires testing and medication? Answer that here.

“Do you see a chiropractor?” Massage therapy and chiropractic can work well together. Knowing what issues you see a chiropractor for will help me plan your massage treatments.

Medications-  Blood thinners could be dangerous. Narcotic pain medications are a no-no just before a massage. Statins have side-effects that can be painful. The list goes on. Please be honest. If you take medicine for depression but don’t want anyone to know, they won’t hear it from me. Everything on this form is confidential. Everything. (PS massage is good for people suffering from depression.)

I ask your occupation so that I can try to “see” what you do with your mind and body each day. Knowing how you use your body day in and day out could help plan your massage treatments. It could also explain mystery aches and pains. Knowledge is power, or so I’ve heard. 😉

This bears repeating: EVERYTHING ON THIS FORM IS CONFIDENTIAL. I don’t share information. I don’t sell information. I just try to give the best massage I can for each person, each situation, each and every day.

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com click Schedule Appointment 🙂

Backpack = Back Pain?

My husband is a full time college student. (Proud of you!) I have often wondered why we needed to buy a new backpack every year. That is, until I attempted to haul his backpack in from the car one day! Oh, man that thing is HEAVY! Seriously! This picture shows 6 inches of books and notebooks. I think it weighs around 10 lbs. Some days there is also a laptop shoved in there somewhere. Whew! There is no way I could haul carry that around every day!

What about you? Are you a student? A parent of a student? Have you seen how a person has to walk in order to carry their books and school supplies around? Every time I see a young person slumped over by the weight of their books I want to scream! Actually, I want to run over to them, remove the pack, attach some wheels to the bottom and rub their neck and shoulders. I would probably get in trouble for that, so I am bringing it up here.

People as young as 12 are burdened by heavy backpacks. Watch your child tomorrow. Do you notice his shoulders pulled forward a bit? Is her neck bent down toward her chest? Do you hear his feet slide more than step? Do you hear a grunt or a sigh when she drops her pack to the floor? These are signs of a pack that is too heavy to carry!

If a body is strained in this way every day many symptoms may emerge. The shoulders rolled forward could cause a more shallow breath intake. Shoulder pain is almost guaranteed. The neck pulling forward and trying to support extra weight can likely cause headaches.  All of this could cause headaches, muscle tension, back pain, fatigue, and irritability. Do you really want another something to cause irritability?

Check with your child’s school. Can your child carry a backpack with wheels? She could pull the bag behind her like a suitcase. Offer to give him/her a neck and shoulder rub. Encourage him/her to switch sides often, or try to lighten the load a bit.

I could give you a demonstration of a neck and shoulder massage the next time you get a massage. Or you can both visit and we can work together to alleviate the pain and discomfort. The Comfort Zone Massage is located just outside Paris, AR inside Shirley’s Beauty Shop. (Where the old skating rink was.)