How Does Massage Help The Chronic Pain Of Fibromyalgia?




Fibromyalgia, now recognized as a central nervous system disorder that leads to widespread body pain, affects more than 5 million Americans over the age of 18. While 80-90% of those who suffer are women, men and children can be diagnosed with the disease as well. There are countless treatments, including massage therapy that attempt to make those who suffer with it more comfortable.


The Invasive Pain Of Fibromyalgia

While the disease has many common symptoms, it impacts everyone a bit differently, but the unifying problem among those who have it is an increased sensitivity to pain. Most people go through periods where they cannot stand to be touched due to the pain, which can be stabbing and shooting, accompanied by numbness, tingling, burning, aching, throbbing, and twitching deep in the muscles.

Other factors such as cold or humid weather, physical and mental fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety, and stress can exacerbate the pain which might be centered in a number of tender points on the body.


Therapeutic Massage As A Treatment

Therapeutic massage can be helpful in relieving the pain of fibromyalgia, especially when it is done on a regular basis. Because the syndrome can leave a person particularly sensitive to touch on a given day, it is important to select a therapist who is sensitive to the special needs of fibromyalgia patients. The patient must openly communicate with the therapist about how they are feeling that day so that the therapist can gear the massage techniques for those that are soothing rather than those that promote stretching and relaxation.


Massage Techniques That Can Help Fibromyalgia

There are three main massage techniques often used on fibromyalgia patients:

Swedish massage, where the massage practitioner uses oil to stimulate circulation and then uses long strokes, kneading, and friction techniques to impact the more superficial layers of the muscles.

Deep tissue massage employs a series of slow strokes and direct pressure that the therapist uses to relieve chronic patterns of muscular tension. Often by using the elbows or thumbs, the therapist applies pressure to the deepest grading of the muscle in hopes of producing relief.

Neuromuscular massage combines hands-on deep tissue treatment with other Eastern treatments such as ocular pressure and shiatsu with the goal of reducing chronic muscle or myofascial (soft-tissue) pain.


Is Massage Therapy Effective For Fibromyalgia?

How effective is massage for fibromyalgia? Research that has been done shows that massage can reduce pain (the major goal), but also elevate mood, reduce the need for pain medications, improve the ability to sleep, and increase the quality of life for some people who suffer from the disease. Studies conducted by the University of Miami School of Medicine, Touch Research Institute, also found that “massage therapy is a clinically significant complementary treatment for fibromyalgia.”

In some cases, the massage was a pleasant experience that took their mind off their chronic pain, a much-needed respite from a disorder that has numerous symptoms that change from day to day. According to the Touch Institute, patients who regularly scheduled massages find that the therapeutic benefits are increased by frequency.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia, your chiropractor at Raintree Medical & Chiropractic Center may recommend adding massage treatment. For more information about chiropractic treatment and massage therapy for fibromyalgia, call us today at 816-623-3020 or request an appointment.


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    Dr. Fluegge is committed to helping families in the community experience improved health and vitality. He educates patients on prevention of injury in the workplace and at home, and how to maintain peak performance in all facets of life. Dr. Fluegge received his Doctor of Chiropractic from Cleveland Chiropractic and a B.S. degree in Biology from Creighton University. The techniques he utilizes include: Diversified, SOT, Graston Technique, Kinesio Taping, Spinal Decompression and also performs physio therapy and ...