Reflexology can help to reduce the effects of fibromyalgia, especially if you receive regular treatment and/or you use reflexology to ease your own symptoms.
What is Fibromyalgia?
In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology put together the diagnostic criteria for the disorder now known as Fibromyalgia. Prior to that, those suffering from this debilitating condition were often told that they were imagining their symptoms; that their suffering was a part of life and that they should just stop complaining and ‘get on with it’. Those symptoms included widespread pain; fatigue; problems sleeping; irritable bowel; chronic headaches; TMJ pain; dizziness and difficulty concentrating.
Standard Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Conventional treatment tends to concentrate on pain relief and improving sleep. A regular exercise programme is also frequently recommended. However, there is currently no known cure for fibromyalgia, only a choice of possibilities for controlling the symptoms.
Frequency and Duration of Reflexology Treatment
With fibromyalgia, the frequency and duration of reflexology treatments will depend on the severity of the symptoms experienced. Someone with fibromyalgia is unlikely to be able to handle a stronger treatment, In these cases it is best to try frequent, short treatments. Start with half-hour sessions, twice a week, for up to five weeks before slowly building up to a one hour treatment session. You are likely to find a number of crystalline deposits – especially in the reflex areas that relate to the colon, small intestine and the various endocrine glands. Although the temptation is to work deeper in these areas, a client with fibromyalgia is likely to find this too painful to cope with.
Reflex Points to Relieve Fibromyalgic Symptoms
To Improve Mental Clarity
- Head & Brain reflexes – the medial and lateral sides and the top of the big toes. As well as helping to aid memory and reduce fatigue, this can encourage restful sleep.
- Balance – found against the base of the fourth toe, this is an important point to work if your symptoms include nausea and dizziness.
To Reduce Fatigue and Improve Sleep
- Pituitary – This reflex is found in the centre of the plantar surface of the big toe. The pituitary gland governs the activities of all other endocrine glands.
- Pineal & Hypothalamus – both these reflex areas are found on the plantar surface of the big toe close to the edge of the nail.
- Adrenals – this reflex is painful in most people (which also makes it easy to find) – it is a small area about the size of your thumb found on the plantar surface of the arch of the foot about halfway down the foot and between the first and second toes.
- Thyroid – found on the plantar surface of the foot on the fleshy ‘ball’ of the foot between your first and second toes.
To Improve Your Mood
Working the reflexes listed above will also help to improve your mood, however it can be invaluable for clients to learn how to find their solar plexus point so that they can start to help themselves during the time between reflexology treatments.
- Solar Plexus – An essential point to encourage relaxation. This point is found on the plantar surface of the foot just under the ball of the foot and between the second and third toes.
For Pain Relief
Joints are often particularly painful, working the reflex areas associated with the following can be a great relief:
- Shoulders – the fleshy ball of the foot immediately under the smallest toe on the plantar surface of the foot. Most people have crystalline deposits here.
- Knees, Elbows, Hips – work down the lateral edge of the foot from the smallest toe to the ankle, stopping to rotate above and below each bony prominence.
- Jaw/facial area – found just below the nail of the big toe on both feet. Focus on this area if you experience TMJ pain.
- Spinal reflexes – found on the medial side of both feet, the spinal reflex area is most closely linked to the nervous system and will be particularly effective in providing pain relief.
For Irritable Bowel Symptoms
- Colon – The colon reflexes are found across both feet. The ascending colon starts on the plantar surface of the right foot just above the fleshy part of the heel (and below the smallest toe). Work up the colon (from heel to toe) until you reach the fleshy ball of the foot, turn your hand sharply to work across the foot (for the transverse colon) from the smallest toe to the big toe. The transverse colon on the left foot is in the same area – so you would work from the areas below the ball of the foot underneath the big toe towards the area underneath the smallest toe. Turn your hand to work down towards the heel for the descending colon, then follow the shape of the fleshy part of the heel to work the sigmoid colon and rectum reflexes.
- Small intestine – found inside the area just marked out by the colon reflexes.
It is possible to treat yourself (or a family member) with reflexology for fibromyalgia; hand reflexology can be particularly helpful for ongoing pain relief. However, a professional reflexologist can give you a more thorough treatment that is specifically geared to treating your symptoms as they change. Find a reflexologist in your area.
Other Options to Consider
Nutritional support is of particular value to those struggling with fibromyalgia. The existing research on the disorder suggests that there are strong links between fibromyalgia, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels), irritable bowel and insulin resistance. Find a nutritionist in your area.
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