Fibromyalgia: Does Massage Help?

by Dr. Steven Yen

When looking at treating fibromyalgia, there is a range of natural alternatives to choose from. Most fibromyalgia patients use a variety of complementary and alternative approaches including vitamins/herbs, chiropractic, and massage. These are used in a complementary manner to pharmaceutical care, and for many patients, instead of drug treatments. These more natural approaches carry fewer risks of side effects and should be encouraged.

Massage treatment can be helpful to many patients. Some common techniques are Swedish, deep tissue, and sports massage. When the symptoms are very bad, the thought of someone pushing deeply into your muscles may not sound appealing. If your muscles are extremely painful to touch, a massage may not be a good option, but most therapists can use light stroking motions, which may bring some relief. These hypersensitive cases are rare. Most patients can tolerate massage treatment but often take several sessions to work up to where deep pressures can be applied. It’s important for your massage treatment to be specific to your muscle needs and problem areas.

Many amateur and professional athletes use massage as a part of their training programs. While not competitive athletes, most patients with fibromyalgia should have a comprehensive exercise regimen consisting of aerobic and strength training. These activities can and do cause muscle soreness. Deep tissue massage may at least give temporary pain relief, and keep you from constantly reaching for pain pills.

The theories behind massage are varied. It may cause stretching of muscles and tendons allowing more flexibility. Deep tissue work may also cause the different muscle groups to glide more freely upon one another. Small adhesions may be worked free during more deep treatments, and increased circulation occurs as the tissues are stimulated.

In addition to the more common massage techniques, some therapists may employ “pin and stretch” and “trigger point” therapies, which treat the problematic areas more intensely. But if you have certain spinal injuries there are massage and stretching techniques that absolutely need to be avoided. This is because if there is a sprain, the therapist shouldn’t push a joint or stretch it into the direction of injury. Massage treatment following a comprehensive chiropractic examination can make sure the treatment is applied specifically to your case. Our office can assist in finding a therapist that both fits your needs, and also knows well your injuries and limitations.


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About Steven Yen

As a former member of the teaching faculty of the prestigious Trigenics Institute, Steven Yen has been treating Fibromyalgia naturally, without the use of drugs or surgery for patients in his private practice since 2002. He is also founder of the world's most popular Facebook page for managing Fibro naturally.

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Cindy Swinamer April 19, 2013

Dr Yen, I’ve recently been following you on facebook and in just a short time after reading your daily posts, I know how well you understand what helps manage my pain. This one about massage is even more proof. I’ve been having the chiro-massage combo for years at the recommendation of both therapists. I’ve tried to explain to my compensation board why this works for me, but their doctors say these treatments aren’t recommended for my type of pain (occipital neuralgia and fibromyalgia) and refuse to help finance more frequent sessions (as in more than once per month). They have no problem paying for my pain med that is equal in cost to one chiro-massage treatment. I’ll show them this post and refer them to your website in hope they will be open minded to believing a pain relief expert. Thank you!