Is massage therapy in your self management toolbox?
Having lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 18 years now, I have tried and tested many therapies to compliment the medical interventions I use to manage my disease and my symptoms. One which has stuck with me and been successful in helping me throughout my journey with arthritis has been musculoskeletal massage therapy.
Almost 10 years ago I was introduced to an incredible woman who is both skilled in her practice and compassionate and caring in her delivery. She started giving me monthly massages on my back, neck, legs, arms, feet and hands to assist me in managing my rheumatoid arthritis. She has since added in craniosacral balancing and other body work, depending on what my body needs at each session. She has become a lifeline for me and an incredibly important part of my treatment regime to manage my overall health.
Having said this, one thing that I have learnt over the years I have been managing my own chronic health conditions and supporting and advocating for others with chronic arthritis, is that no one person is the same. This means that what works for one person with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis or any other musculoskeletal condition, is not necessary going to be the same as what works for the next person.
If you live with a chronic long term condition, you are the expert of your own body and you will know whether or not treatments work for you. But if you haven't already tried massage therapy, from a qualified musculoskeletal massage therapist, then I encourage you to speak to your specialist or general practitioner about trying it. It might not be right for your body, but it might just be one more tool in your self management toolkit to help you successfully manage your health and live the best life you can.
For me, I get a lot of muscle pain, so massage therapy is wonderful to keep this under control. I see my massage therapist monthly (have done for almost 10 years) and I honestly couldn't live without her now. I even flew to the other side of the country and travelled up a mountain just to have a treatment with her when she temporarily moved away - that is how special she (and her healing hands) are to me. Not only does massage therapy keep my muscle pain under control, but it also helps manage stress and tension trapped in my body from my complex health issues and from life in general. Mentally, it is an hour a month where I switch off, allow someone to look after me and relax!
Always speak to your medical team before trying new therapies, be sure to listen to your body, but don't be afraid to try something different to help you manage your pain, stiffness, fatigue and overall health.