Fibromyalgia and the Healing Touch

“Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight”, Diane Ackerman massage-002

People who suffer from chronic pain have generally found that physical touch is a valuable source of relief which can alleviate (or at least reduce) pain and enhance well being. Those of us who have fibromyalgia and are able to afford any of the various techniques of body work such as remedial massage, and jin shin jyutsu have found short term release of pain. Some even think that therapeutic touch is helpful, and although I fail to see how not directly touching the body can be helpful, many do find just that! I suspect it is from a placebo effect. I am not an advocate of that technique as I do not believe that ‘energy’ is moved around as those practicing TT do advocate. Instead I believe that direct touch can help with releasing tight muscles and bring about relaxation of the nervous system. I have usually benefited from the effects of these therapies.

Not only is there often a sense of relief, albeit somewhat temporary, but the sufferer usually feels that the body/mind relationship is more easily recognizable and accessed. The experience is not one which only relaxes the muscles and hence the nervous system, but simultaneously stimulates a sense of awareness of the connection of the body/mind and a sense of well being. These natural healing strategies involve the power of the mind to bring about some degree of control over the psychic and/or physical pain of fibromyalgia.

There are those who consider various kinds of ‘body work therapies’ as alternative approaches to Western medicine. In fact, I consider them to be an added benefit to traditional forms of treatment such as medication and, as complementary  (in the usual sense of the word) for the pain of fibromyalgia. Various forms of massages for example, have been used in a variety of cultures for thousands of years. They should not be considered as ‘New Age’, hocus pocus or ridiculed as self indulgent because they have evolved from Eastern philosophies rather than Western science. They are strategies that people use to enhance the quality of their lives, recognizing that those with fibromyalgia are the experts of their own lives and need whatever can assist with the difficulties of dealing with daily pain. Releasing tight areas of the body through touch is pleasurable! Sometimes cuddling with a loved one can be just as effective:-)

The practices involving healing touch cannot be viewed as though they take the place of traditional Western medicine. However, those of us with fibromyalgia have seen numerous health care professionals over many years and have found little relief for our pain symptoms. We would welcome medical approaches which would assist us to live life more fully if they were available. Therefore, if we can find a healing practice that helps induce some degree of relaxation of the nervous system from our daily challenges, it is incumbent upon us to share these stories with others.

While there are other approaches to help with injuries of the body that may develop from FMS and the invariable stiffening of muscles, such as physiotherapy/physical therapy, often they are paid for by health care plans, unlike the ones mentioned above. Yet, generally it is the less traditional kinds of body work that appear to bring about a greater sense of relief. Ironically, these types of treatments are usually obtained at great personal cost to the individual.

To that end, in my book I discuss the complementary strategies that women have used which are not considered to be mainstream and which are expensive, particularly as regular treatment options. While I have tried many of them over decades and have not found any, such as homeopahty or naturpathy to be effective, I have found that touch which involves directly placing hands with some degree of strength on tightened muscles to be very relaxing and helpful.

About Barbara Keddy

I am a Professor Emeritus, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. My B.Sc.is in Nursing while my MA. and Ph.D. are in Sociology. I am married, a mother and grandmother living on the east coast of Canada. I have personally lived with fibromyalgia for about 40 years. I published a book with iUniverse in 2007. This book detailed living with this condition and allowed the voices of twenty women who have fibromyalgia to tell their stories.
This entry was posted in complementary strategies, Fibromyalgia, healing touch, jin shin jyutsu, massage, reflexology, remedial massage, therapeutic touch. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Fibromyalgia and the Healing Touch

  1. Dianna Cann says:

    My partner has suffered with Fibro for many years and I see first hand the effects on daily routine and how daily activities are limited by the pain and suffering. I welcome Dr Keddy’s work that sheds light on aspects of Fibro and offers information about additional stratagies than can be used to mitigate and alleviate the symptoms.

  2. Admin says:

    I found your blog via Google while searching for science of reflexology and your post regarding Fibromyalgia and the Healing Touch looks very interesting to me. Just wanted to drop a note to let you know what a great site you have. It is a great resource and a great place to drop by.

  3. Thank you so much for this comment! Drop by anytime:-)
    Barbara

  4. Catherine says:

    I’ve just found your blog while checking out the latest “fibro” research etc. I’ve suffered from fibro for 33 years triggered I am sure by a traumatic incident and “maintained” by years of putting other people’s needs before my own as so many of us women are trained and expected to do. I’m also what is nowadays described as an HSP, (probably more ultra than highly) and believe I was born that way plus a social worker/counsellor by profession (the empathy plus sensitivity you talk about) so it’s all kind of beginning to make sense. On a positive note I’m finally learning how to be more “positively selfish”, I have to I’m now 53 and it’s all taking its toll on me. I’d like to read your new book Women and Fibromyalgia but it doesn’t seem to be available here in Australia yet but I’m sure it will be soon. Keep up the good work Barbara we need people like you to advocate for us fibro sufferers and challenge the view that it’s “all in our heads” or is purely a medical condition.

  5. Dear Catherine:
    First of all thank you for you lovely comments. More and more I am convinced that HSPs are the ones who develop fibro. I can relate to your social work/counsellor background and it is interesting to me that with these tendencies of ours that we pick such stressful professions! Not surprising but it adds another dimension to the puzzle.
    Are you an avid reader of fiction? I just read recently that people who read a lot of fiction tend to have a heightened sense of empathy, which is another piece of informaiton to add to the growing awarenss of HSPs.
    People in Australia who write me say that they have bought the book form Amazon as bookstores do not carry it so I hope you will either order it from a bookstore or Amazon and let me know if either is the best option.
    Finally, I wonder if there is a difference between a ‘highly’ sensitive and an ‘ultra’ sensitive person. You bring up an interesting point I had not thought of very often?! Hmmmm!?
    Best wishes to my Australian friends! (See Sue C’s website I have cited on my links section as she did a wonderful blog on fibro)
    Barbara

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