Foot massage (= EMS mat increased pain)

I have bought myself an EMS mat (electrical massage stimulation) to help with my bad circulation. The good news is I get pink toes instead of white. The swelling round my ankles has reduced. I thought I was on to a winner here but sadly no. The bad news: the day after I use it my fibro pain was very intense especially in my hip and back. Also fatigue was so bad that I could not do anything. The choice I have now don’t use it and it is difficult to walk with such numb feet or use it and out of action the next day! Anyone any suggestions?


Hi there rosebud! My/our experience is that any treatment is a matter of dosage.
So I’d suggest waiting till you’ve recovered from the first try and then starting again at a really minimal dose. I don’t know if that’d be 2 minutes or 10 seconds for you, but I’d start as low as you think is safe. If you can regulate the intensity I’d also lower that if you hadn’t already. You now know what to expect and maybe you’ll find an amount that’s perfect. Like when I used and others say “I don’t tolerate exercise”: It’s the dose and every second helps.

BTW: Pre-fibro I did gym-type EMS once for 20’ and it triggered a few of my focal seizures, so knew/know that anything electrical is a bit of a problem for me…

Thank you JayCS for your help with using EMS mat. I must have overdone it the way I was using it. I put it on number 5 and used it for 5 minutes at a time once a day. I have had the mat for a month and I thought I if I keep at it then my body would get used to the unwanted side effects I have the next day. If I use a much lower setting and even though I do not feel the massage would it still help in the way it should? I don’t seem to have much success with anything I use because of my sensitivity to everything.

Well Iet’s say the numbers 1-4 will have a reason… :slight_smile:
Your body apparently does feel something that isn’t directly tangible for you and it may be that that can help.
Whether or not is just a matter of trying it out.
Instead of trying to get used to total fatigue, I’d start 5 minutes on number 1 for 1 day, number 2 for 2 days, number 3 for 5 days, and slowly start trying out increasing the length of time, maybe going back down to number 2 to try 10 minutes. Each time noting if you get fatigue and definitely keep under that amount first - later you might be able to go back up to that amount without a problem.
Reminds me of when my sleep psychiatrist told me to take levodopa for a while at a too low dose for the RLS it was sposed to influence, just for my body to get used to it. It actually worked a little bit better than when I increased to the normal dose.
If you watch your body closely, you might also get a tangible feeling, but much deeper and more subtle than you expect.
With the gym-type EMS it was also the case that I overdid it, as a healthy and fit person, quite aside from the seizures the electricity caused, because a big part of the effect is deep down.

I’m also hypersensitive to everything. Now I know I’ve got MCAS, triggered by the jabs, that explains this hypersensitivity as a kind of allergic overreaction of my immune system (the mast cells). I have many variants of this - often I can reduce meds and supps to micro-amounts and it still doesn’t stop being ‘too much’. But also I can find amounts where something helps. Especially with physio stuff I decrease to a few seconds of some movement etc. and then gradually increase. I’d say there is almost nothing physio-wise I don’t tolerate (electrical current is one exception), altho 2 years ago I thought I don’t tolerate any stretches and hardly any exercises… I just didn’t know, cos people, even knowing fibro, just said: You need to do it like this. What they should have told me is: Find the sweet spots, however short / small you do/take it… Praps that’ll work for you too?

Thank you JayCS I will certainly try what you said. It does make sense about starting it a very low dose. I think the EMS mat goes up to 7 or 8 in strength or it might go up to No. 10. I will let you know how I get on.

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Rosebud73 I agree with JayCS! Start with less intense and only for 1-2 minutes or maybe start with just one minute. You will get use to it a little at a time.

JayCS I did not use the EMS mat for a month. I tried it again last weekend this time put it on No. 1 and only did it for one minute. 10 minutes after using it I felt very faint and also I experienced a lot of pain round heart area. My doctor said it is OK to use it but my body says otherwise!!! I am certainly not going to try it again.

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Thanks for the feedback. Good to know I’m not the only one that’s that sensitive! Pain around the heart area - really sounds as if the electrical microcurrents your heart needs to work were affected. I think I remember something similar when I did the gym-type EMS too. I’ll be spreading that, so thanks again!

I’m sorry your mat didn’t work for you. It’s such a hit and miss process to see what works for us. Have you tried having someone massage your feet, like refloxology? I was actually introduced to this long before my fibro. Because I worked in the medical field, I jokingly told my hubby I was seeing the voodoo doctor. He was really a sweet little old man. I learned very quickly that he knew what he was doing. I had torn some ligaments in my back and had gone 6 weeks with rest, physical therapy and meds. I still couldn’t lift my legs to tie my shoe. Just a few ‘treatments’ with this guy had me back to 100%. I could lift my legs after the very first treatment. A treatment involved me laying in a recliner, this gentleman put baby powder on my feet so his fingers would slide, and he started at my toes and did a deep massage from toes to heels. If he hit an area that hurt, he would do it softer, then return to that area again. Even if you don’t see a reflexologist, you can have someone rub your feet. The beauty of that is that it can’t cause any problems. Reflexology is a hard massage. It hurts on your foot only while the person is rubbing that area. If your foot hurts, it corresponds to an area of your body that has problems. If I hadn’t experienced this myself, I wouldn’t believe in this type of treatment. One of my last treatments, the reflexologist said, “You have a headache!” I really did have one. I asked how he could tell, and he told me that he could feel the grit around my toes. You can guess- my headache was gone in just a few minutes. Anyway, it’s just a suggestion, as strange as it sounds. These days, I’m betting there are YouTube videos on it.
Also, anytime you have some pain around your heart, have it checked. It’s always better to be cautious. Sending big hugs tonight!

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Reflexology is also something I’d try if I hadn’t yet. I did acupressure for 1.5y which most sessions (2x2h/wk) included a stint of ear acupressure first. Painful, but it got rid of pains. At least she and me got all of my local pains down to zero after that time.
A caveat for foot reflexology: My wife had it done by someone learning it and it considerably exacerbated her symptoms (esp. tinnitus) afterwards…

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Thank you 2Blessed for responding to me. I will look into it. I never did tell my doctor but prehaps I should!

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Oh goodness! I hate your wife had a negative reaction. I have tinnitus also, so I understand not wanting that to increase. I always have noise around me. I just wish the two tones in my ears would be in harmony.
I did have shiatsu massages years ago. They hurt like the devil, but they sure helped relieve my pain. Unfortunately, the guy doing my massages started saying things that made me uncomfortable, so I stopped going. I guess that was the Good Lord letting me know to stop. A year or so later, he was arrested for being inappropriate with customers. Yikes!

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I just remembered this thread as I’m not foggy today :smile_cat:
Seeing the first line again it struck me that you praps had very different expectations: EMS doesn’t mean massage stimulation, it means muscle stimulation. I’d overlooked that first time round. And I’d think that shows that it may be used for a type of massage as the product names show, but it isn’t like a normal massage, it really goes into the muscle, and at I’d think much higher levels than a TENS or a microcurrent or tVNS unit, which would be more the kind of stimulus our muscles can take. Praps none of us could tolerate EMS. TENS units do now often come in combination with an EMS unit, as was mentioned about 10 years back on this forum, so praps someone has tried the EMS part? Haven’t heard any other experiences though.
The A-reviews of one product I just looked at were very unfavourable, but that was more that the products weren’t working, hard to get working etc…

Thank you. I originally got the ESM because it said it was good for circulation. The only good thing that came from using it, it helped with my gut problems! I have thought about getting another make to see if that will help but they are more expensive and I don’t want to buy something that is a lot of money but I am not able to tolerate it.

I am glad JayCS you are not foggy today.

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