Reflexology and Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia, also called Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. As well as widespread pain, people with Fibromyalgia may also have increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, sleep disorders, problems with mental processes (“brain-fog”) e.g. problems with memory and concentration, dizziness and balance problems, headaches and migraines, digestive upsets. The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages that are carried around the body. (1)

ID-100184055How might reflexology help Fibromyalgia sufferers? When we are stressed our bodies are on constant high alert, engaging our sympathetic nervous system ready to “fight or flight”. However this means that the parasympathetic nervous system is shut down, so things like digestion, relaxation and sleep patterns will not have optimum conditions to function properly. Pain is an obvious stress, both physically and mentally.

Reflexology is deeply relaxing which can help the body and mind break the constant stress cycle and seek re-balance. In general, we have around 7000 nerve endings in the feet, making them particularly sensitive and helpful for accessing the whole body. Reflexology might help manage and reduce the symptoms of Fibromyalgia through a tailored treatment plan specific to the patient’s particular issues. Depending on the level of intensity of pain, shortened reflexology treatments might be advisable to begin with. Below are the key symptoms of Fibromyalgia and the subsequent reflex points I can pay particular attention to during treatments:

  • Joint pain: concentrate on the relevant reflex points on the feet for joints concerned e.g. shoulder, knee, hips, jaw. Adrenal gland reflexes can be gently worked to stimulate the production of the body’s own anti-inflammatories and pain management.
  • Fatigue: pay attention to the adrenal glands and pancreas reflexes. This aims to increase energy and re-balance and regulate blood-sugar levels.
  • Sleep disorders: work the diaphragm reflex (to promote relaxation and calmer breathing), pineal and pituitary gland reflexes (to promote a re-balance of circadian rhythms and of the endocrine system in general).
  • Digestive upsets: general relaxation techniques to awaken the parasympathetic nervous system. Colon and small intestine reflex points in particular.
  • Headaches and migraines: concentrate on brain, spine, particularly cervical spine, head and neck area reflexes.
  • Dizziness and balance: concentrate on inner-ear reflex point.

Update Jan 2016 – Since first writing this blog I have trained in Reflexology Lymph Drainage and carried out a case study on a Fibromyalgia client. Further info to follow.

(1) http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibromyalgia/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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