Fibromyalgia is characterized by generalized pain and tenderness, joint rigidity, and fatigue. In addition, it can also affect sleep and mood, and have an overall negative effect on quality of life. Consequently, people diagnosed with fibromyalgia may have a multidimensional treatment plan- from prescription medication, exercise routine, to CAM therapies such as acupuncture and massage therapy. Studies have found that massage treatment can help reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A 2011 study found massage to help reduce pain sensitivity at tender points, help lower anxiety levels, and increase quality of sleep. A 2014 Meta study found that massage therapy reduced pain, anxiety, and depression, and that massaging soft and connective tissues improved flexibility and local blood and lymph circulation.
When seeking massage to help with fibromyalgia, keep in mind that communication is key to receiving a therapeutically beneficial massage. Pain levels vary for fibromyalgia sufferers, so getting the pressure correct during a massage is important. This is an ongoing conversation that must be had between therapist and client. Above all, always be vocal about what feels good and what doesn’t. Some clients will also be sensitive to feat and cold. Always voice this to your therapist as well, as many therapists use hydrotherapy and a heated table pad in their practice.
Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.
Li Y.H., Wang F.Y., Feng C.Q., Yang X.F., Sun Y.H. (2014) Massage therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89304. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089304. eCollection 2014.