massage for fibromyalgia

Learning Alternative Therapies for Fibromyalgia: Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is used to treat many medical conditions, especially those that are worsened by stress or by having tight muscles.

Muscles often tighten due to stress or chronic medical conditions like fibromyalgia, which causes widespread pain throughout the body.

Being in pain can also make muscles tense, which can worsen this symptom of the chronic disease.

Many massage therapists regularly treat patients with this medical issue and are familiar with how to use massage to help them relax and reduce their pain.

There are several different types of massage therapy, but not all of them will benefit someone who has fibromyalgia.

There are trigger points in the body that can increase fibromyalgia pain and a massage therapist has to know which form of massage to use to avoid triggering more pain in their fibromyalgia clients.

How Massage Therapy Helps Fibromyalgia

Massage therapy is one of most widely used alternative therapies for various medical conditions. It is even used in hospitals to help treat patients to recover from injuries and after surgery.

Massage works for a multitude of conditions, including fibromyalgia, because it helps to reduce stress, relieve pain, it can help lower feelings of anxiety and promote all over well-being.

Massage also works to release natural painkillers like endorphins. Serotonin and norepinephrine that counteract pain signals that are released by the brain.

A survey of fibromyalgia patients showed that massage therapy is one of the best alternative treatment options for this disease because it helps to reduce both pain and fatigue.

Other benefits for this treatment include increased blood circulation to the muscles, increased flexibility and range of motion, decreased stress and depression, reduced pain and stiffness, plus it helped improve sleep.

A study conducted in 1996 showed that fibromyalgia patients who had 10, 30-minute massage sessions showed a 38% reduction in their pain. In addition, their sleep improved with fewer sleep disruptions and they slept longer at night.

Types of Massage to Treat Fibromyalgia

Some forms of massage can be rough for people with no medical conditions to handle, not to mention for those with fibromyalgia.

An review published in Rheumatology International indicated that massage could be effective for fibromyalgia, but it should be painless with the intensity of the massage increased gradually.

The article also recommended that patients receive a massage at least once or twice a week to reduce their symptoms.

Along with the different types of traditional massage, there are also therapies that use gentle massage or palpations to help reduce pain, fatigue and to improve a patient’s health.

Here are some massage forms and therapies that can help fibromyalgia patients:

Swedish Massage

This type of massage involves kneading the flesh, gliding and sliding hands along the body, gentle beating and friction to loosen muscles. These movements help to circulate blood to areas of the body that need it.

Not having enough fresh blood can starve muscles of vital nutrients and oxygen. It also helps to flush toxins out of the body. Using Swedish massage also helps to relieve stress and help people relax, which can improve a patient’s overall health.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage uses vigorous techniques to help loosen tight, inflexible muscles and tissues. This type of massage works on the deepest layers of muscle and tendons in order to help release chronic muscle pain and tension.

The therapist applies along and/or across muscles in the body.  This technique uses slower and deeper strokes than Swedish massage and it may cause some pain immediately after treatment, but the pain usually disappears in a day or two.

massage for fibromyalgia

Hot-Stone Massage

A therapist takes heated stones, which are flat and smooth, and applies them to key points on the body. They are used as massage tools to help relax the body.

Sports Massage

Although it is used by athletes before or after their events, fibromyalgia patients can use it to help relieve stress and tension that builds up in the soft tissues of the body during physical activity.

This form of massage reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, it also increases circulation, relieves pain and helps to improve flexibility.

Myofascial Release

This technique is done by applying gentle, sustaining pressure into connective tissues.  This massage works on the body’s fasica, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers all muscles and organs in the body.

This tissue can get short and tight in fibromyalgia patients, which causes pain. The technique used for this type of massage helps to elongate the fascia to reduce pain and improve range of motion.

To effectively reduce pain, fatigue and muscle spasms, therapists need to be careful about the amount of pressure they apply during massage treatments. The main form of massage to avoid would be deep-tissue massage because it requires the use of deeper pressure to loosen muscles.

Locating a Massage Therapist

Many certified massage therapists are trained in using massage to treat a variety of medical conditions like fibromyalgia. To locate one that can help relieve your symptoms, you can look up massage therapists online in your area to find one that is qualified to help you.

Your doctor may also know of therapists that help fibromyalgia patients or you can call a fibromyalgia support group for recommendations.

Before you make an appointment with a massage therapist, interview them to find out their qualifications and find out if they are qualified to help treat your condition.

Find out which massage techniques they use and if they have ever treated someone with fibromyalgia.

You want someone familiar with the condition to help to reduce pain and improve your other symptoms.

While massage therapy can help relieve your pain and increase you energy, it should be used in conjunction with your medication, not replace it.

Inform your doctor if you are using massage therapy to help alleviate some of the symptoms of your disease so they can adjust your medications, if needed. When your pain improves, you may be able to take fewer pain medications.



  1. Thanks for this! I’m looking into all the natural approaches and if these don’t work I’ll follow my doctor’s treatment. I didn’t have to take meds for anything until now, not even for the common cold, so I really hope this provides at least some relief.

  2. Swedish massage and deep tissue massage really help. Actually these massage are part of my routine now. My doctor recommended to me, and as I’m passionate reader of this website, i wanted to confirm that. Other massages may also help as well!

  3. I found this piece very informative, am glad I read it. I certainly agree with the author regarding Massage therapy as an alternative treatment for Fibromyalgia. Given the symptoms such as pain, depression and fatigue, I think a massage therapy can be a helpful in reducing the pain, stress and anxiety especially if a therapist can recommend on the best type of massage for a specific client for optimal results. I hope that you will keep us updated on any development regarding Fibromyalgia. I also appreciate the amount of time and research you are putting into these articles. Thank you so much.

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