Can Manual Lymphatic Drainage Help With Fibromalgia?
The short answer is, YES!
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions, affecting millions of individuals. Fibromyalgia usually includes a number of symptoms including chronic widespread pain, tenderness and sensitivity to touch in muscles, joints and soft tissue, fatigue and sleep disturbances. Although fibromyalgia is not life-threatening, it can be extremely distressing for sufferers. In the treatment of Fibromyalgia the main goal is for relief of pain. Fortunately, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) can offer positive results in the relief symptoms. MLD is a unique therapy that can address pain in a different way. Compared to traditional massage, the pressure applied with manual lymph drainage is significantly lighter, with traction and gentle stretching of the skin and fascia. The goal of these techniques is to manipulate the lymphatic vessels located in our tissue and fascia. This is significant in treatment because fascia is now considered to be an important factor in relation to managing pain syndromes such as Fibromyalgia. So what is fascia? Fascia is a comprehensive network of connective tissue that is found all over the body and contains lots of pain-sensing nerves. There are three layers: Superficial Fascia, which is mostly associated with the skin; Deep Fascia, which is mostly associated with the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels; and Visceral Fascia, which is mostly associated with the internal organs. In Fibromyalgia (and other pain conditions), the brain is mistakenly triggering a ‘fight or flight’ response which then contracts muscle tissue and fascia. So when we get tight in our shoulders or when we get slightly acidic or dehydrated, our lymphatic system can no longer pick up cellular waste and other debris in your body effectively which forces the waste to build in your tissues. As this waste builds in your tissues, it becomes more acidic and more inflamed. It is sustained tightness of fascia that can cause pain, generates inflammation and creates knots in muscles known as trigger points. Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of manual lymph drainage (MLD) for the treatment of Fibromyalgia. This rhythmic and gentle skin stretch technique has been demonstrated to show positive results for reduction in pain and stiffness, and improved sleep. I recommend that my clients try at least two to three MLD sessions to determine if this physical therapy will be of benefit. Additionally learning self care strategies and scheduling ongoing maintenance is recommended for keeping flare ups at bay.