Fibromyalgia and Massage

What is Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal pain disorder and may be helped by massage treatments.

It is estimated to affect between 3% and 6% of the global population according to the National Fibromyalgia Association in April 2010. It generally affects more women than men in the 20 – 60 year old age bracket.

What are the common symptoms of Fibromyalgia

It has a variety of symptoms that can range from:

  • Pain, with the inclusion of 18 tender points
  • Numbness, and tingling in hands, arms, feet, and legs
  • Morning stiffness
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety / fatigue – Chronic Fatigue can often go hand in hand with Fibromyalgia.
  • Concentration and memory problems — known as “fibro fog”
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

How could Massage help Fibromyalgia symptoms

Research has shown that the role of regular massage in the treatment of Fibromyalgia can play a positive role, in improving pain, anxiety, depression and quality of life in patients (Li et al, 2014) This may be due to the fact that massage provides some form of psychological relaxation and reduction in anxiety due to the slow, rhythmical and repetitive manner of the treatment. (Çinar & Eşer 2010)

Having treated patients with FMS, I also use heat therapy within the treatment, this has shown to have an effect on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in relation to stress. Heat relaxes the ANS so helping to reduce stress. (Lee et al, 2011)

Every FMS patient is different and I have found that the massage treatments will vary from patient to patient.  So I treat according to the individual and what their body requires at the time of treatment.

Yan-hui Li, Feng-yun Wang*, Chun-qing Feng, Xia-feng Yang, Yi-hua Sun:  Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials   2014

Çinar S, & Eşer I: Effect of Sleep Quality of Back Massage in Older Adults in Rest Home. Deuhyo Ed 2012, 5 (1), 2-7

Lee Y-H, Park BNR & Kim SH: The Effects of Heat and Massage Application on the Autonomic Nervous System. Yonsei Med J. 2011 52(6):982-989

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