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The Benefits Of Massage Therapy For Fibromyalgia Patients

Woman in a SpaFibromyalgia symptoms can be wide-ranging, but they often involve muscle aches and stiff joints: making it difficult for patients to participate in daily physical activities.  Whilst many who suffer from the condition receive medication to help alleviate symptoms, alternative therapies are becoming increasingly popular as an effective form of complimentary medicine. Although such therapies should not be seen as a replacement to more conventional medical treatments, many patients have advocated massage therapy as a successful method in both reducing general stiffness and promoting flexibility. Other benefits of massage therapy have been reported to include:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Tension headache relief
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved joint motion
  • Relief from lower back pain
  • Increase in production of the body’s natural pain killers

According to the fibro network’s facebook page, massage therapy can also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as daytime fatigue: A 1996 report indicated that half-hour sessions twice weekly not only cut the pain by 38%, but also exerted a favorable impact on fatigue, mood and sleeping problems.”

So why might massage therapy be beneficial for fibromyalgia patients?

According to an article posted by the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Massages require the physical manipulation of muscles and tissues.  When done correctly, they can help encourage proper circulation of blood throughout the system.  Coupled with correct breathing on the patient’s end, regular massage therapy can promote tissue oxygenation.”

Other studies have shown that massage therapy can have beneficial effects on joint and muscle pains, decreasing: “pain and tenderness” as well as resulting in “increased levels of serotonin, decreased levels of stress hormones, [as well as improving] the patient’s overall sense of well-being.” 

Are all types of massage therapy suitable for fibromyalgia patients? Should I be aware of any precautions to take and how can I find out more about massage therapy?
There are several different types of massage therapy available to fibromyalgia patients and it is worth seeking expert advice to find out which form might be of benefit to your particular symptoms.  As a common symptom of fibromyalgia can be sensitivity to touch, gentle massage is the most appropriate form of treatment, rather than a more stimulating massage. We have listed a few of the more popular massage treatment choices below (information has been taken from As always, before trying out any new form of treatment for your fibromyalgia symptoms, consult your GP and physiotherapist first.

  • Shiatsu
    Using light but firm pressure, the word shiatsu translates to mean “finger pressure” and works with traditional acupuncture points. This method of massage has been reported to have particular success with fibromyalgia symptoms that include lower back pain and stress relief.
  • Reflexology
    Reflexology is based upon a traditional Chinese method that works with reflex areas in the hands, feet and/or ears. It is said to stimulate energy flow as well as reduce blockage and encourage the body’s own healing process.
  • Swedish Massage
    Swedish massage combines five basic strokes: effleurge; petrissage; friction; tapotement and vibration. It is a very traditional technique that promotes better circulation and relaxation. Reported benefits include reduction in migraines, neck pain and relief from chronic pain, as well the stimulation of blood flow.

Have you tried out massage as a complimentary therapy for fibromyalgia?  We’d love you to share your experiences and recommendations.

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

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