Some people visiting Sensual Bodyworks who have had chronic and painful conditions including Fibromyalgia. Most have reported a temporary easing of symptoms to varying degrees and lasting from a day or so up to a week.
Sensual massage is certainly not a cure and I have no formal medical knowledge relating to the condition, however I can provide some information largely provided by others and report on the feedback people have given.
There are of course many ways to achieve similar aspects to sensual massage, either with a partner or alone and/or with a spa style massage. However I do believe the combination of massage, arousal and orgasm and the release of associated hormones can provide respite for some.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia, also known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a chronic condition that causes muscular and/or skeletal pain all over the body combined with extreme fatigue and tiredness. The pain can make sleeping very difficult at times increasing tiredness further, and the lack of sleep is also believed to be a contributing factor to making the condition worse thus creating a vicious circle.
What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Widespread Pain: The most reported symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain that can affect all areas of the body, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This pain is often described as a constant ache and can be accompanied by feelings of stiffness.
Tender Points: Individuals with fibromyalgia often experience specific points on their bodies that are tender to touch. These points are located in particular areas, such as the back of the neck, shoulders, chest, hips, and knees.
Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia commonly report feeling fatigue and low energy levels, even after getting sufficient sleep. This fatigue can be debilitating and impact daily activities.
Sleep Disturbances: Sleep problems are common in fibromyalgia. Individuals may have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep, leading to feelings of exhaustion during the day.
Cognitive Issues: Known as "fibro fog," cognitive symptoms include difficulties with concentration, memory, and thinking clearly. This can affect work, social interactions, and daily tasks.
Other Symptoms: Many individuals with fibromyalgia also experience additional symptoms such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), anxiety, depression, and heightened sensitivity to noise, light, and odors.
How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be challenging because there are no definitive laboratory tests or imaging studies that can confirm the condition. Instead, diagnosis typically involves ruling out other potential causes of symptoms and relying on a physical exam and medical history assessment.
What Treatments are available for Fibromyalgia?
Management of fibromyalgia typically involves a multimodal approach, including:
Medications: Certain medications, such as pain relievers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants, can be prescribed to help manage pain, improve sleep, and address other symptoms.
Lifestyle Modifications: Regular exercise, stress management techniques, and maintaining a healthy sleep routine can help improve symptoms and overall well-being.
Therapies: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), physical therapy, and other forms of counseling can provide strategies for managing pain, fatigue, and emotional aspects of the condition.
Support: Connecting with support groups and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals who specialise in fibromyalgia can be beneficial for managing the condition.
It's important for individuals experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia to consult with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and personalised treatment recommendations.
How can massage help with Fibromialga symptoms?
Massage therapy can provide relief for some individuals with fibromyalgia by helping to manage symptoms such as pain, muscle tension, and stress. However, it's important to approach massage as a complementary treatment and to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new therapy, especially if you have a chronic medical condition like fibromyalgia.
Here are some potential benefits of massage therapy for fibromyalgia:
Pain Reduction: Massage can help relax muscles, increase blood circulation, and release tension, which can lead to a reduction in pain and discomfort associated with fibromyalgia.
Improved Sleep: Massage therapy has been shown to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, which can be particularly helpful for individuals with fibromyalgia who often experience sleep disturbances.
Stress and Anxiety Relief: Many people with fibromyalgia also experience high levels of stress and anxiety. Massage can have a calming effect on the nervous system, leading to reduced stress and anxiety levels.
Increased Range of Motion: Gentle stretching and manipulation during massage sessions can help improve flexibility and range of motion, which can be beneficial for individuals who experience muscle stiffness due to fibromyalgia.
Enhanced Mood: Some individuals report an improvement in mood and overall well-being after receiving massage therapy, which can be especially helpful for managing the emotional aspects of living with a chronic condition.
However, it's important to keep in mind that massage therapy might not be suitable for everyone with fibromyalgia. Factors such as individual sensitivity to touch, pain thresholds, and preferences can vary widely. Additionally, certain massage techniques that are too aggressive or intense might exacerbate pain in some individuals with fibromyalgia.
When considering massage therapy for fibromyalgia, it's recommended to:
Consult Your Healthcare Provider: Before starting any new treatment, including massage therapy, it's essential to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider. They can offer guidance on whether massage is appropriate for your specific condition and recommend any precautions.
Choose a Qualified Massage Therapist: If you decide to pursue massage therapy, look for a licensed and experienced massage therapist who has knowledge and experience working with individuals with fibromyalgia or similar conditions. They should be willing to adapt their techniques to your comfort level and needs.
Communicate Your Needs: Communication is key. Inform your massage therapist about your fibromyalgia diagnosis, any specific areas of pain or discomfort, and your preferences regarding pressure and techniques.
Start Slowly: If you're new to massage therapy or have heightened sensitivity, consider starting with shorter sessions and gradually increasing the duration and intensity as you become more comfortable.
Incorporating massage therapy as part of a holistic approach to managing fibromyalgia symptoms can be beneficial, but it should be done in conjunction with other treatments and under the guidance of your healthcare provider.
How does sexual arousal and orgasm including sensual massage affect Fibromyalgia?
Sexual activity can have both physical and emotional effects on individuals with fibromyalgia, just as it does for people without the condition. However, it's important to approach this topic with sensitivity and recognise that experiences can vary widely from person to person. Here are some points to consider:
Pain Relief: For some individuals, engaging in sexual activity can release endorphins and provide temporary pain relief due to the body's natural pain-blocking mechanisms.
Muscle Relaxation: Sexual arousal and activity can lead to muscle relaxation, which might help alleviate muscle tension that is common in fibromyalgia.
Emotional and Psychological Aspects:
Stress Reduction: Sexual activity can promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with fibromyalgia, as stress can exacerbate symptoms.
Improved Mood: Engaging in pleasurable activities, including sexual activity, can trigger the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that contribute to positive mood.
Communication and Comfort:
Open Communication: It's important for individuals with fibromyalgia to communicate openly with their partner about their condition, including any pain or discomfort they may experience during or after sexual activity.
Comfort and Consent: Individuals should prioritise their own comfort and well-being, ensuring that any sexual activity is consensual and enjoyable for both partners.
Physical Limitations and Sensitivity:
Individual Variability: Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary greatly among individuals. Some may find that sexual activity exacerbates pain or fatigue, while others may experience relief.
Sensitivity to Touch: Some individuals with fibromyalgia might have heightened sensitivity to touch, which could influence their comfort level with sexual activity.
Adapting to Needs:
Experimentation: Partners can explore different sexual activities and positions to find what works best for their comfort and enjoyment.
Timing: Engaging in sexual activity during periods of lower pain and fatigue might be more comfortable for individuals with fibromyalgia.
Consultation with Healthcare Provider:
Individualised Advice: It's a good idea for individuals with fibromyalgia to discuss any concerns or questions about sexual activity with their healthcare provider. They can offer specific guidance based on the individual's health status and needs.
Ultimately, the impact of sexual activity on fibromyalgia symptoms can vary from person to person. It's important to prioritise open communication, consent, and your comfort and well-being.
"I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2016, a condition I knew very little about. After diagnosis, there is a lot of information to take in, but the overwhelming message was that there was no cure, and it would be a mixture of pain management techniques and lifestyle changes as the course of treatment. It took a long time for me to come to terms with this and when I found that medication alone wasn’t working, I began to research a range of different therapies in order to manage my condition.
Sensual massage was not something I had initially thought of and I had my first appointment with Jools in 2023 for different reasons than my pain management. I wanted to connect with my body and feel like myself again, after years of battling mental and physical health problems. However, after leaving my first appointment, I saw that the pain I usually felt, particularly in my neck and shoulders, had decreased significantly. At following sessions, I trusted Jools to massage my neck and shoulders more deeply, which is something I had not trusted many massage therapists with. Usually the pain is too great for me to be touched and I can only bear being massaged there for a few moments. However with Jools, I felt able to tolerate this and found the flexibility and range of motion in my neck increasing after every session. After an appointment, I also found my sleep got better. Disturbed sleep is a regular occurrence for me as part of the condition, however I’ve found a significant improvement since receiving massage.
Sensual massage has given me so much. Outside of my condition, it has increased my confidence, helped me to feel more connected to my body and has had a massively positive impact on my mental health. In conjunction with other treatments I use, I will continue my appointments with Jools as a positive and life affirming way to manage my condition. It truly has given me my power back."
Fighting for Freedom from Fibromyalgia (FMA UK) - Fibromyalgia Association UK is a one-stop source of information for those affected by fibromyalgia. On their website, national helplines, online support, fundraising, and research are just some of the many available resources on offer.
UK Fibromyalgia - This helpful website provides support resources and an information for sufferers of fibromyalgia in the UK with everything from how to Lobby your MP, to the right nutritional choices and claiming benefits.
FibroAction - FibroAction is a dynamic national charity created to raise Fibromyalgia awareness in the UK while providing up-to-date, evidence based and reputable information.
PacificRheumatology.com - This website has been developed for patients and families interested in rheumatology research – hoping to reverse the effects autoimmune diseases and those equally disabling.
London Pain Clinic - Home to several of the UK’s most respected Pain Medicine Consultants, the London Pain Clinic is the one-stop practice for patients suffering from chronic pain. With numerous years’ experience in successfully treating over 90 chronic pain conditions, their experts can employ any one of a number of specialist interventions – from analgesic medications to nerve root injections and physiotherapy. Whether your pain is musculoskeletal, neuropathic or any other, they can help.
Medicolegal Partners - For medicolegal expert witness reports, at the cutting edge of pain medicine.