Massage & Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia affects about 3-6% of the world’s population, an estimated 200-400 million people worldwide, with higher numbers among women than men. People diagnosed with fibromyalgia experience a wide range of symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue, stiffness, aches and muscle tenderness, along with sleep disorders and intestinal/bowel troubles.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be confirmed when eleven out of eighteen specific points on the body are tender to pressure.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a combination of sleep disturbances, hormonal and neuroendocrine imbalances, and emotional status. Some of the common complaints associated with fibromyalgia include:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Tender points

The identifying signs and symptoms include:

  • Widespread pain that shifts locations.
  • Feeling muscle stiffness especially in the morning.
  • Poor stamina.
  • Hypersensitivity and low pain tolerance.

Are you seeking symptom relief?

Massage may be just what you need to help to reduce pain levels, anxiety, and possible feelings of depression. Some types of massage may be more beneficial than others. However, a gentle approach should be used within the client’s tolerance due to sensitivity levels to pain.

What types of massage are beneficial?

Massage can empower clients to feel like they are participating in their own healing process. Some types of massage that may be beneficial in treating fibromyalgia include:

  • Gentle Swedish massage for relaxation and to reduce perception of pain if only temporarily.
  • Shiatsu using light pressure may have a calming effect and promote better sleep.
  • Trigger point therapy – use lighter pressure and shorter intervals
  • Here are some precautions to be aware of when working with clients who suffer from fibromyalgia:
  • Never use ice or cold or contrast therapy on clients with fibromyalgia (cold may exacerbate symptoms)
  • Take care not to over treat; people suffering with fibromyalgia are extremely hypersensitive.

What can you do?

If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, it is important to understand that although the symptoms may be debilitating, this is not a life-threatening disease nor is it a progressive disease. There are some things that you can do to reduce the severity of the symptoms you are experiencing:

  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Stretch
  • Try to reduce emotional stress in your life as much as possible
  • And of course, find a massage therapist who can tailor massage sessions to fit your individual needs.


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