The Web site for the National Fibromyalgia Association, www.fmaware.org, states, “Fibromyalgia (FM) is an increasingly recognized chronic pain illness which is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue and sleep disturbances. The most common sites of pain include the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle and hands, but any body part can be involved. Fibromyalgia patients experience a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane over time. FM is characterized by the presence of multiple tender points and a constellation of symptoms.”
How is the diagnosis made? The Web site continues: “Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Doctors must rely on patient histories, self-reported symptoms, a physical examination and an accurate manual tender point examination. This exam is based on the standardized ACR criteria. Proper implementation of the exam determines the presence of multiple tender points at characteristic locations.”
Lynne K. Matallana, president of the NFA has said, “The NFA suggests that individuals who suffer with the symptoms of fibromyalgia implement a self-management program which incorporates both Western and complementary approaches to health care. Some people with FM are very sensitive to medicines and prefer to use more natural health care options. Dealing with the constant pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia can be quite stressful, and finding ways to help relieve stress can also help to reduce the overall symptoms of this chronic illness. Since fibromyalgia involves an increase in neurological sensitivity, both physically and emotionally, practices that are calming can bring a sense of relief. To accomplish these goals, we suggest aromatherapy alone or in combination with massage and other relaxation techniques. The use of fragrant herbs or oils can help promote sleep, calm the mind, decrease muscle pain, increase circulation, relieve headaches and promote a general sense of well-being.”
We have seen first hand how well massage therapy and aromatherapy has helped our clients with fibromyalgia.