Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects more than 3 million Americans every year. This chronic condition causes widespread muscle pain and increased sensitivity to stimuli that often lead to pain and difficulty sleeping, among other symptoms.

Working with clients who have Fibromyalgia is no different than working with clients with other chronic or pre-existing health conditions.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain and tenderness. Other common symptoms associated with FM include fatigue, tension headaches, cognitive difficulties and irritable bowel syndrome.

1 “There were studies that showed the association between stressors and Fibromyalgia,” explains Stephen Perle, Professor of Clinical Sciences at Bridgeport University.

“For example, MRI has shown that people with Fibromyalgia, when exposed to non-painful stimuli, have activation of the brain in areas that are normally activated only by painful stimuli.”

Accordingly, central nervous system involvement may explain why people with Fibromyalgia are often hypersensitive to all sorts of stimuli, not just mechanical pressure or touch. Dr. Michael Schneider, Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of multiple studies on Fibromyalgia, provides more insight: “The classic fibromyalgia patient just isn’t tender to the touch and can’t submit to mechanical pressure,” he explains. “They’re sensitive to light, sound, [may have] multiple food allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, and they don’t tolerate heat and cold real well.”

Of all the alternative therapies available, more and more research is showing that massage therapy provides real benefits to people dealing with a number of health conditions, including fibromyalgia.
A study in 2011 showed that massage therapy caused reductions in sensitivity to pain at tender points in patients with Fibromyalgia as well as lowering anxiety levels and increasing quality of sleep.3
Another study from 2014, which systematically reviewed nine other studies about massage therapy and Fibromyalgia, found that massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on improving pain, anxiety and depression in patients with Fibromyalgia.4

References

1. Michael J. Schneider, DC, PhD, David M. Brady, ND, DC, and Stephen M. Perle, DC, MS (2006) Differential diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome: Proposal of a model and algorithm for patients presenting with the primary symptom of chronic widespread pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006 Jul–Aug;29(6):493-501.

2. Walen HR, Oliver K, Groessl E, Cronan TA, Rodriguez VM. Traumatic events, health outcomes, and health care use in patients with fibromyalgia. J Musculoskelet Pain 2001;9: 19–38

3. Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.

4. Li Y.H., Wang F.Y., Feng C.Q., Yang X.F., Sun Y.H. (2014) Massage therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89304. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089304. eCollection 2014.

5. Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.

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