Fibromyalgia and massage



Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a group of symptoms that includes chronic (long-term) pain in the soft tissues. Other disorders that frequently accompany FMS are fatigue, sleep disruption, migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and , unsurprisingly, depression. After other diseases have been ruled out FMS is normally diagnosed by the presence of 11 or more  tender points found throughout the whole of the body. The exact causes of this condition have still yet to be established.

A recent book I was reading showed just how confusing this has been for the medical profession. I have summarised the findings below..

1816 1st documentation of chronic pain syndrome.
1904 British physician gives the name fibrositis (inflammatory process in soft tissue).
1940 Fibrositis appears in North American medical texts.
1979 Canadian physicians show connection between chronic pain and sleep disorders.
1981 USA –research shows no inflammatory process evident. The term Fibromyalgia comes about (soft tissue pain).
1987 USA – FMS officially recognised.
1990 USA – Criteria for diagnosing FMS set.
1993 The World Health Organisation recognises FMS.


With the exact causes not known, symptoms widespread and no real definitive test to establish a diagnosis, FMS sufferers can spend a long frustrating and worrying time waiting to find out why they feel like they do.

The chief focus for FMS sufferers is on understanding and managing the condition enabling that person  to live as normal a life as is possible. This will include such things as nutrition, sleep, mild exercise and stretches.

How can massage help?

By working closely with the client and ensuring that treatment is carried out within pain free tolerances there is good research to show massage can reduce pain levels, albeit temporarily. But with this temporary relief comes the opportunity for undisturbed sleep and a rest bite from pain.

Massage alone is not the answer but it can, with the right therapist, be a major factor in aiding you to better manage FMS.



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