Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Massage Therapy

Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Massage Therapy

Fibromyalgia Syndrome affects between 2 and 5 percent of the U.S. population, which is roughly 6 to 15 million people. Most FMS clients are women aged 25 to 50.1 Yet the definition of FMS has a number of variations.2

FMS Symptoms

The range of symptoms for Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) include widespread pain, fatigue, severely disturbed sleep and, all too often, digestive system distress. However, the causes almost always lie elsewhere, and not in the tissues where the pain is being felt.

My objective in helping FMS clients will include any or all of the following:

*   Easing anxiety and encouraging better sleep patterns

*    Deactivating trigger points

*    Improving general circulatory and lymphatic flow

*    Recognizing and helping improve breathing pattern disorders

*    Improving muscular tone, function and balance.

*    Working with compassion and empathy

When working with Fibromyalgia clients I primarily use gentle Swedish style strokes with massage oil or cream and therapeutic grade plant (Aromatherapy) oils. All symptoms are discussed and addressed to get the most out of each session. I may also combine Foot Reflexology to also address pain issues of the body as well as deepen the relaxation experience. For your first session, you may choose to start with 30 minutes, just to see how your body feels later, as you sleep, and how you feel the next day. If the results are positive you can continue with 30 minutes or if you choose, slowly increase the time. Again, you will observe your body’s reactions and at this point decide what amount of time works for you.

Some info you should know

With FMS clients, when massage and movement therapy were compared with relaxation and movement, there were far more benefits in the group receiving both massage and movement therapy. The greatest benefits were noted in areas of mood and depression, as well as in reduced pain levels.3

Disturbed sleep, a symptom of FMS, causes far more problems than fatigue. One of the functions of sleep during its deepest stages is production of the growth hormone (GH). It is also produced during aerobic exercise. GH performs many vital repair and regeneration tasks. Gentle massage therapy is important, but deep tissue work that would contribute to traumatizing tissues should be avoided, because less GH means less or slower healing of tissues.

1. Wolfe F, et al. “Serotonin Levels, Pain Threshold, and Fibromyalgia Symptoms in the General Population.” Journal of Rheumatology. 1997; 24(Mar): 555-559.

2. AmericanCollege of Rheumatology. “Criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia, arthritis and rheumatism.” 1990; 33:160-172.

3. Field T, Delage J, Hernandez-Reif M. “Movement and massage therapy reduce fibromyalgia pain.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2002; 7(1):49-52.


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