“Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight”, Diane Ackerman
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.