Swedish massage shown to effectively relieve pain for people with fibromyalgia

There’s something to be said about indulging yourself with a massage to recharge after a long day of working hard. However, a recent study released by researchers from Brazil suggests that the “feel good” effects a person gets after a massage is actually rooted in science. In their study, released in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, the authors indicate that a massage — in particular, a Swedish massage — can improve quality of life, reduce stress, and alleviate pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition wherein a person experiences musculoskeletal pain all over his body, usually accompanied by fatigue, sleep, mood, and memory issues. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unclear; however, some cases occur after a person experiences physical trauma, surgery, infection, or severe psychological stress. Experts believe that it aggravates pain by affecting how the brain processes pain, and most sufferers are also likely to have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and even depression with fibromyalgia. Currently, 10 million adults in the U.S. have fibromyalgia, with most of them being women between 50 to 80 years.

There have been studies on how massage therapies can help patients with fibromyalgia. In a review in PLoS One, a team from Liaocheng People’s Hospital in China found evidence supporting the immediate benefits of massage therapy on patients with the condition. The therapy, in particular, improved pain, anxiety, and depression in patients with fibromyalgia, according to a systematic review of scientific literature on the subject. In this study, the team looked at the efficacy of a Swedish massage therapy — a European technique that uses gentle strokes to reduce muscle pain and stress — in improving three significant biomarkers in patients with fibromyalgia, namely: cortisol concentrations, which is an indicator of stress; perceived stress index; the intensity of pain felt; and their overall quality of life. The study ran for three months, during which 24 women with fibromyalgia underwent Swedish massages twice a week. After the therapy, the women were asked to participate in a survey meant to evaluate their overall quality of life during treatment.

In the survey, patients reported significant improvements in their quality of life after treatment, which the researchers linked to the reduction of pain. This led to improved scores in reductions in their perceived levels of stress, including their biological marker for stress.

“One possible reason for the improvement of [the] quality of life of these patients is related with the reduction of pain, which was verified among the participants,” the authors wrote in their study. “Pain is a key symptom in the diagnosis of patients with FMS [fibromyagia] and has a direct impact on quality of life of these individuals.”

Other benefits of a Swedish massage

It’s not just patients with severe pain that can benefit from a Swedish massage. Multiple studies have also found that Swedish massage therapy can improve other conditions, including knee arthritis, carpal tunnel, and even hypertension. People whose immune systems need a boost, as well as those who suffer from headaches, could benefit from a massage. In addition, it can help drain the lymphatic system by clearing out clogged areas. It’s also great for people who suffer from issues with digestion: A study in 2014 indicated that an abdominal massage helps muscles contract and gets things moving along in the gut.

Learn more about different types of massages and their benefits at NaturalHealth.news.

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