ASMR and Fibromyalgia


Image: Shutterstock/ Sergieiev

Have you ever gotten that tingling feeling on your skin after hearing someone whisper in your ear? You know that kind of shiver that travels down your spine? Well, it turns out that there’s actually a name for that: ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response. And there’s actually a whole online world dedicated to learning how to cultivate that response.

But what exactly is ASMR? Why do people like it? And can it be effective for your fibromyalgia pain?

What Is ASMR?

Autonomous sensory meridian response is a natural reaction that your body triggers in response to certain sensations. The most common triggers are sounds, particularly rustling or whispering sounds. The ASMR causes a tingling sensation that extends in waves down your skin. No one is sure exactly why your body does it, but there are a number of theories.

The most compelling one is that your body is releasing endorphins in reaction to these noises. That would explain why people feel good and relaxed when they experience ASMR. Endorphins are natural chemicals released in your body in response to certain things that make you feel happy. We can only speculate on why certain sounds trigger that release of endorphins, but it could be an evolutionary adaptation.

It could be that this pleasing response to soft sounds is designed to stimulate bonding between people who are close. After all, mothers often whisper to their children and people who are in love do the same. It’s possible that the purpose of ASMR is to encourage these kinds of relationship-building interactions. But so far, this remains a theory.

We do know that there are lots of people who find the sensation enjoyable.

Why Do People Like It?

The subject of ASMR actually interests a sizeable community on the internet. These people are interested in figuring out how ASMR works and how they can control the sensation. Many people think that with practice, you can learn to induce the response yourself. To help with this, there are lots of videos on the internet full of sounds that are designed to trigger an ASMR.

The idea behind these videos is that ASMR is a good way to relax and can even help deal with pain. People in the community use it as a tool to improve their lives and take control of their mental health. And many believe that it can be a tool for dealing with chronic illness as well.

Can ASMR Help With Fibromyalgia?

There’s not a lot of academic study on the subject of ASMR and fibromyalgia. But there are a few reasons to think that it might be a good tool for dealing with the condition. First, there’s the anecdotal evidence. Many people who use ASMR think that doing so helps them handle pain like that caused by fibromyalgia.

There are a few reasons that this might be true. First, if ASMR actually does release endorphins, then it probably would help deal with chronic pain. Endorphins help dull the sensation of pain so anything that releases them would be helpful.

Secondly, trying to trigger an ASMR requires you to focus on your mind and try to remain calm. This kind of refocusing off of your pain has been shown to be useful in dealing with chronic pain. It’s similar to some of the behavioral conditioning therapy that many doctors recommend for dealing with fibromyalgia. It’s similar to meditation or many of the other mindfulness techniques that a lot of people with chronic pain find useful.

Anything that helps you slow down and focus on feeling good for a few minutes is a welcome respite from the pain of fibromyalgia. So in that sense, ASMR could be helpful for fibromyalgia. It’s likely the sort of thing that will work differently for everyone. But even if it isn’t effective, it never hurts to try.

If you are interested, there are plenty of resources online to learn more about how to use ASMR. A quick internet search will yield hundreds of websites that can teach you more about how it works and how to trigger it. And youtube has thousands of videos designed to help you learn more about and experience ASMR. Both are great tools for beginning your journey into the world of autonomous sensory meridian response.

So, what do you think? Does ASMR seem like something that interests you? Do you think it could help with fibromyalgia? Do you have any personal experiences to share? Let us know in the comments.